Looking Up, Looking Down

Brilliant concepts are often described in risible ways: ‘push the envelope’, ‘wake up and smell the coffee’, ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’, ‘let’s make a plan going forward’ and ‘blue-sky-thinking’. I aim to do all of those things most of the time, but never, ever will you get me to use any of those phrases. Take ‘blue-sky-thinking’ for example: the notion of devising creative ideas that are unfettered by the mundane or the pedestrian. The concept is perfect, but the cliche-ridden packaging kills it stone dead. But then it struck me that perhaps ‘blue-sky-thinking’ would be better if I reverted to taking it literally rather than metaphorically. Lying on a forest floor and staring up through the canopy of trees at the blue, wintry sky beyond is as good a way of thinking new things as any and it certainly took some of the sting out of the cliche.

To be absolutely truthful, the idea that came to me while I looked up through the canopy of leaves wasn’t exactly revolutionary. All I kept thinking as I stared up at the sky was that looking up is the same as looking down – it’s the simple action of taking a different viewpoint that counts. To prove my theory, I’ve been staring down into a pot of home-made orange curd to see what inspiration might come. My orange-pot-thinking produced two and a half decent ideas – I will tell you about them in my next post. In the meantime, here’s my recipe for orange curd to help you with a little orange-pot-thinking of your own.

ORANGE CURD

Makes four or five 200ml jars

  • 4 large oranges – finely grated zest and juice
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 300g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 3 extra yolks, beaten

Add the butter, sugar, lemon juice, orange zest and orange juice to a pan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Pour the mixture into a heatproof bowl and place above a plan of simmering water. Strain the eggs into the mixture and stir constantly until everything is combined. It will then take at least an hour to thicken. Stir it frequently and do not allow it to get too hot – it will separate if you do. If you’re cautious with the heat, the thickening will take longer, but you will avoid calamity. Once the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, pour it into the sterilised jars and cover with a circle of greased paper. It will keep for around 6 to 8 weeks in the fridge.

P.S. I have used the phrase ‘orange-pot-thinking’ three times in this post. It is now officially a cliche and I promise never to use it again – unless, of course, literally.