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Mary's Scones - Peter Miller

by If music be the food...

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Track name - 'Gleam' by Peter Miller

All proceeds from this project go to those working on the frontline of Covid 19 - the wonderful team at Medicin Sans Frontiers .

My mother was a classically trained singer of opera and light opera. Strangely, I never made recordings of her singing when she was alive, but in recent times, some cassettes of her rehearsing came came to light. My music piece ‘Gleam’ is based around snippets of her voice stolen from these tapes. The recipes I’ve chosen are her scone recipe, and her own mother’s quince jelly recipe. I make the quince jelly pretty much every year when quinces come into season, and of course, that always calls for scones.

Mary’s Scones


3 Cups self raising flour
1 cup milk
Pinch of salt
80g (3oz) butter at room temperature


Set oven to 200ºC (392ºF) and bring to temperature. Lightly flour a large baking tray.

Sift the flour into a bowl, add the salt. With your fingers, rub butter into flour and salt until the mixture is even and no lumps of butter remain. Make a well in the middle and pour in the milk. Mix with a cold knife until consistent. Turn out onto a cold surface and fold until smooth. Don’t overmix, and don’t let the dough become too warm (mum used to say that people with cold hands make the best scones) With your hands, flatten the dough to about an inch thick and then cut out rounds with a cutter or small drinking glass. Place them a few inches apart on the floured tray. Bake for 10 -15 minutes until the scones puff up and are golden on top. Serve immediately.

Elsie’s Quince Jelly


2kg (4.5lb) quinces (usually around 6 medium sized quinces)
2-3 lemons
3 litres (0.8 gallons) cold water
White sugar (around 2kg, but that is determined by the amount of juice collected - see method)


Large metal pot with lid
Jam making pot, or similar heavy-bottomed metal pot
Jam funnel
Colander or large strainer
A piece of muslin for straining
Jam thermometer
Jars and lids (about 12 - 14, depending on the size)


Allow two days.

Day 1:

Using a soft cloth, wipe all the ‘fuzz’ from the quinces until they are smooth. Cut off any bruised or damaged portions. Cut the quinces into cubes, seeds and skins included.

Put the water into the large pot. Peel the rind from one of the lemons and add it to the water, along with the juice and seeds from all the lemons. Add the quinces and bring the water to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer with the lid on for about 1.5 hours. Take the lid off and simmer for a further 20 minutes. The water will by now have turned a pale pink.

Line the colander with the muslin and sit it on the jam pot. Strain the quince liquid into the jam pot - do not agitate too much, and especially do not squash or crush the fruit or you will turn the final jelly cloudy. Leave this to sit overnight in order to let as much liquid as possible drip into the jam pot. Again, do not squeeze the fruit.

Day 2:

Prep: Wash the jars and lids thoroughly, and sterilize them with boiling water. Arrange the jars in a metal baking dish, and put them in a moderate oven to bring them to temperature (in order that you don’t crack them when you pour in the boiling jelly). Put a couple of small plates in your freezer and have a small spoon standing by - these are to test the jam set.

Carefully discard the quince fruit without disturbing it. You should have around 2 litres (0.5 gal) of pink water in your pot. You will need to measure it. For every 500ml (16oz) of liquid, set aside 500g (16oz) of sugar.

Now, slowly heat your liquid, gradually adding the sugar and dissolving it as you go. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon so there are no crystals of sugar and the liquid looks clear and bright.

Things will happen quickly from now on, so don’t get distracted.

Bring the liquid quickly to the boil, on the highest heat you can manage. Skim any white scum off as the temperature rises. When the liquid starts to rapidly boil start measuring the temperature. When it hits about 102ºC (216ºF) start testing for jam ‘set’ point by spooning a small amount thinly onto one of your plates from the freezer. If it makes a wrinkle when pushed gently, it’s ready to set. This will generally happen about 104-105ºC (219ºF). By now, your liquid will have turned a dark, rich red colour.

At this point, remove your jars from the oven and carefully ladle the liquid into the hot jars with the aid of a jam funnel (you don’t need one, but trust me, it will make things a whole lot easier). While the filled jars are still hot, using oven gloves carefully screw on the lids to firm but not tight. This will allow the jars to form a vacuum seal. Do not touch the jars again until they are completely cool.

The final jelly should be crimson red, clear and bright and have a light jelly wobble. A spoon should make a clean ‘cut’ when serving.
Tip: Substituting 500g ‘jam’ sugar for normal sugar will ensure a proper set (but it’s not the way my grandmother would have done it!)


released May 2, 2020
'Gleam' - track by Peter Miller


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If music be the food... London, UK

This project was birthed around the kitchen table with guitars, food and friendship. Bush Fires raged on one side, floods on another and an international pandemic loomed closer. And we sang…and made music...and cooked food… and… unearthed ideas for a project combining
recipes...music and cyber collaboration.
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