Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Elderflower everything

Ds1 makes fairy cakes for his tuck shop

Today I was organised enough to take bags and scissors to local park as we walked the dog, so that I could pick elderflower with the kids. I was also organised enough to find and print off a recipe for elderflower cordial off the internet. I was even organised enough to check that we had citric acid in the cupboard and that the corner shop sold the lemons that we would need.

Unfortunately the tub on the shelf with 'citric acid' on the front that I naturally assumed WAS citric acid, turned out to be full of pepper seeds saved from several years ago. So, missing a vital ingredient, we now have several carrier bags full of stinky droopy elderflowers on the kitchen worktop, plus a trail of elderflower petals around the house. I'm just thankful that I remembered to take my hayfever tablets this morning - everything is covered in a fine dusting of yellow pollen!

Think I may have overdone it with the elderflower. There was so much in the park it felt almost criminal not to pick it. But the recipe only requires 20 sprigs for each batch, and if I make elderflower wine it's even smaller quantities. Not sure what I'm going to do with these carrier bags full! After I found I hadn't got the right ingredients for cordial I ended up putting together some ingredients for elderflower and rhubarb jam. These have to sit around in a bowl with some sugar for 24 hours, before boiling up and then sit around again and then boiling again (it seems) until it turns into jam. Hope it's going to be worth it after all that preparation. I'm used to just slapping some ingredients in a pan with a bit of apple and lots of sugar, boiling it till the stuff is erupting all over the cooker top like volcanic larva and then potting it up. I tend to lose interest if it becomes a more longterm project...

Rhubarb and Elderflower Jam (in progress)

The weather has been baking today and I know I shouldn't complain, but being a south facing garden it's unbearable to sit in it for long when the weather is so hot. When it's this hot only the lounge in our house is cool, everywhere else is very warm. Under the apple tree at the bottom of the garden is the only shade we have in the garden, but it's quite a trek to and fro especially when children always seem to need me or need me to do something as soon as I get to the bottom of the garden!!

It really feels like it might at last be summer.

Only one of my bean plants has come up so the wigwam line of 12 or more beanpoles at the bottom of the garden looks faintly ridiculous with nothing growing up it. I suspect slugs or one of the bean weavil species may be the culprits and if I'd been more organised I'd have planted some more beans in pots in the greenhouse. These beans are quite special so I like to grow some every year. They are called 'Cherokee Trail of Tears', and allegedly are the beans that the cherokees grew and took with them when they were driven off their lands. The pod is a purple/black colour which sadly turns green on cooking (not half as interesting looking) and the small beans when dried are also a deep purple. The plant also throws out some green bean pods (with white beans in) which I used to think were due to cross-pollination with another bean species. Apparently though this is perfectly normal. I still prefer the purple ones, but they're all very tasty! Sadly, it looks like it might just be runner beans this year.

I'm feeling the need to bring a bit more structure into our days over the next month or so. We've got some holiday (camping) planned which will give us a well-needed break, but in between I feel as if we need to get back on track a little with the home ed. We've dropped - mostly for financial reasons - pretty much all the groups, activities and workshops that the kids would normally go to. The cost of diesel and increasing price of food, plus extras like the car going wrong, me needing the chiropracter etc. have dug deep into our resources and there just isn't enough to go round. Fortunately ds1's piano lesson has been cancelled a few times so the extra money from that has come in handy!

It's been nice just to chill and have days to ourselves without rushing around, but not being out and about at groups and activities has left quite a gap in our days. Usually Spring and Summer heralds a whole lot of exciting outdoor stuff and we feel invigorated and energised after a long winter, but so far this year it just hasn't happened (for various reasons it's not been a great year for the family and I guess we're all feeling the fallout). I've tried to summon up the energy to compensate with trips to the park, bike rides, fishing, 'allomping' etc, but some days the bickering gets to all of us.

Roll on holiday time!!!!

1 comment:

Philippa said...

I think sometimes it is good to take a break from groups. Apart from the financial side, we can find ourselves running around and not really giving ourselves the time that we need to relax. I have so many unfinished projects about that I might take a couple of weeks "off" and get those finished. I really like looking at my diary and we have nothing on. We never get to do nothing but there we go!
I hope the jam turns out well!!