A Pillow Book

I wanted a blog to reflect my life and, as with most people, I do and am many things, decided to create a Pillow Book. It will have thoughts, ideas, observations and little snippets of my day to day life. So, thank you Empress Consort Teishi....... I bow to you and your great work and hope, in some small way, mine might be great too.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

And finally summer has arrived....

Yes, finally summer is here....

My youngest daughter sang before she could really talk, she hummed along and gurgled in her cot, I used to put her in the garden and she would sing to the bees...she has sung daily her whole life. When she left middle school she sang to a backing tape, Your Song,  brave and alone, the hall was silent and her voice filled the space, she made her year head cry and was then asked to sing at the  final assembly, more weeping. At the big school there has been little chance to sing, sadly,  she was in the choir for a while, but it is mainly populated by older students. We talked at length about how to get her singing in public, it was decided that learning an instrument would be the best thing, a guitar most likely. I mentioned it to a dear friend, a friend who married a folk singer a few years ago, conversations were had and friend's lovely husband volunteered to teach my daughter. So last week, on a fine summer's evening, we visited their little cottage by the side of an old railway track. The warmth of the day was still in the air and heady scents enveloped us. My friend and I decided to go in search of elderflower whilst leaving daughter and husband to their lesson, too much of an audience is no good thing at the start of learning to play an instrument. Off we walked along the old track an abundance of blooms all around, sadly many out of reach, but finally we were able to fill our bags. Summer evening walks are one of my most favourite things, conversations of life, love, family and stories recalled from shared events..... We walked back up the lane and could hear a guitar being strummed, a voice carrying on the still night air....Tea was made, cake cut and we all sang. Then just my daughter, oh what a wonderful sound, an old song from the year I was born, Catch The Wind, having never heard it before she sang it in her own way, goodness how my heart grew....what a truly beautiful sound...

So, promises were made of much practise and a tuner to be purchased.  Off we went into the summer night, a bag full of elderflower, guitar and music in hand...

The next morning on waking my whole house was filled with the heady scent of elderflower..summer in a bowl, that evening after purchasing some citric acid from the village pharmacy " making elderflower cordial?" I was asked..a conversation of best method, of how much needed and whether to try making champagne ensued. Then back home to grate lemons and oranges and steep flower heads for a day...with little effort two good bottles of elderflower cordial made. I know each time I pour some into a glass and top with fizzy water or maybe some prosecco I shall be transported back to a summer evening when scents and songs were caught on the wind.....

Elderflower Cordial

I have read many recipes and this seems as good as any and like most, I did add citric acid but didn't have unwaxed fruit  I just scrubbed lemons and orange in hot water then dried them off.

  • About 25 elderflower heads
  • Finely grated zest of 3 unwaxed lemons and 1 orange, plus their juice (about 150ml in total)
  • 1kg sugar
  • 1 heaped tsp citric acid (optional)

Inspect the elderflower heads carefully and remove any insects. Place the flower heads in a large bowl together with the orange and lemon zest.
Bring 1.5 litres water to the boil and pour over the elderflowers and citrus zest. Cover and leave overnight to infuse.

Strain the liquid through a scalded jelly bag or piece of muslin and pour into a saucepan. Add the sugar, the lemon and orange juice and the citric acid (if using). 

Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a simmer and cook for a
couple of minutes.

Use a funnel to pour the hot syrup into sterilised bottles. Seal the bottles
with swing-top lids, sterilised screw-tops or corks.

“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don't they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.” ― Ray BradburyDandelion Wine

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