Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The joy of foraging

I have been on an elderflower hunt three times in the last week.  The first time as a test run - in which I made a quick batch - a couple of glassfuls which convinced me to go on a proper search.

It is a beautiful year for elderflowers - and the perfect time - just as they are emerging into full beauty, and full of flavour, not to mention a delicious scent which permeates the whole house.

Even in an urban environment there are plenty to be had, and I seek those further away from roads to remove the risk of pollution contamination - parks, alleyways, golf courses, paths etc.

I found several recipes.  In the end I went for the instant gratification (well 24 hours) of the River Cottage recipe for half my find, and the longer term version supplied by a German friend whose elderflower cordial I have enjoyed immensely in the past, but which takes a week!  and goes very nicely with Sekt, I may add :)

The German batch is steeping as we speak in a cool dark place and I have high hopes that it will be delicious.  The River Cottage one is quite citrussy and sweet, and went down a treat - so much so that I ended up giving away much of the batch! And some more went into a Gooseberry Fool for Father's Day, as it's my husband's favourite.  Fortunately I had some left from last year.

Hence the need for another raid.  I persuaded the family to make it a team outing - mainly as my biggest boy has a longer reach than anyone else in the family!! And we struck gold - several trees in fairly close proximity - I never like to take too many from one tree as it's not fair on other foragers, or on the tree - plus the elderberries bring their own foraging joys.

The final batch is less citrussy and I only used 75% of the sugar, plus some citric acid so hopefully it will keep longer.  I have two plastic bottles worth in the freezer for later in the summer as well.

All I need now are my gooseberries, the perfect summer match for elderflower cordial.  Another week?....

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Utterly addicted to Pinterest!

I've had this for some time, but lately I've got a bit obsessed - actually really obsessed!!

I have found beautiful things, recipes, ideas, tutorials etc etc ..... and so on!  My Pinterest boards are here.

My top ten for this week ...

1) Gorgeous seagull fabric from Jenny Lee Katz Textiles:

2) A moonstone to feed my addiction to turquoise from SamSilverHawk.com which is just too beautiful...

3)  An inspiring Christmas 'chandelier' that could be used anytime from the twigdecor blog:

4) Verbal bootcamp quotation  from notsalmon.com

5) Ginger Basil Grapefruit Spritzer for when I'm driving - from joylicious

6) Some upcycling inspiration from fishandbicycles.com:

7) A really cool quilt - (I'm so tempted but I cannot get into quilting, I have too many other unfinished projects lying around!)  from the bemused.typepad.com blog

8) The top of my 'recipes to try list' right now - from  mytimes.com - rhubarb upside down cake...

9) Inspiration for the herb garden I want to plant - from nurseriesonline.com.au

10)  and finally something that made me smile....

from streetartutopia.com

Like I said... addicted!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I think it can safely be said that I've had a blog holiday lately.

I've been busy, and I've been crafting but somehow just haven't had the drive to actually post something.  In fact, the only things I've been interested in writing about weren't crafty, but then I realised that it's my blog and I can write what I want to!!

I've been thinking a lot about the environment, gardens, packaging and the IF Campaign to try to ensure that world food resources are shared better and noone goes hungry.  This little meander through life, punctuated by the recent Earth Day that always makes me think, not to mention appreciate this little ball we live on, and Springwatch all contribute to my musings about how I could do a bit more for this planet's wellbeing.  So, this and other stories of the week:

1) I much prefer flowers wrapped in paper rather than plastic, recyclable paper based packaging for fruit and veg, rather than clear plastic pots (although they do double effectively as paint trays!) and I wish England would go the way of Wales and stop using carrier bags.  I don't usually have much positive to say about Primark (apart from their reading glasses) but I do like their permanent commitment to paper bags.

2)  I am so happy watching my gooseberries ripening on the bush.  Usually we would pick them around now, but this year everything is so late.  The first flowers are appearing on the raspberries too - summer soft fruit - happy days ahead.

3) Baby birds are the best - I so love the wonderful camera work on Springwatch, seeing things that the human eye rarely spots on its own.  We had a nest in our garden once, but it was a wood pigeon and very messy!!  Nature is an amazing, wondrous thing that you can never stop appreciating.

4) I've finally committed to making elderflower cordial - I mean to do it every year but this year I have bought the lemons and sugar and sourced my elderflowers - just need to do a raid now!  Plus it goes great with gooseberries - roll on that first fool of the summer - and some sunshine to go with it!!  Preserving is definitely high up my list this year - and if I can forage the ingredients, then all the better.

5) Recycling - our local council is really good for recycling and I'm happy about that, but at the moment I'm focused on decluttering ahead of a boot sale in aid of Hope4Malawi - a charity helping to provide a kitchen and feeding programme at a school in the south of the country for over 1000 children.  It costs a humbling £7 per year to feed one child - I can spend that in Starbucks (or the local equivalent) on a good day!  My eldest son is heading out there to help with the kitchen and has raised all his trip money - so proud of him, and excited for what he'll see and do.  These are the foundations...

6) On the subject of which, I learned a new version of the phrase last week - it now reads 'Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle, Rot!'

7) I bought a magazine called The Simple Life a couple of weeks ago.  It looks really nice and has some great stuff in, but I can't help hearing the siren marketing call behind it all - that it's just more dressed up shopping with a different label on it.

8) My skin is quite allergic and I've not been able to swim in pools or have bubble baths for about 3 years which is frustrating.  But for my birthday I received a present from Neal's Yard - Organic Lavender bath stuff, in the cleverest packaging ever - one sheet of card cleverly folded - I have to work out a file on my Silhouette for something similar as it would be dead useful for gift wrapping.  Long story short - it didn't make me itch and smells gorgeous - I know it's on my Christmas list already :)

9) More on recycling - I wish they would print Scrapbook paper on recycled - it doesn't seem that hard to do, I mean, you can get gorgeous recycled stationery products.

10)  I am determined to do some upcycling.  I have a couple of things that I am going to start out on, and then I have plans for a couple more things that I need for the house, but could do on a thrift basis with second hand furniture and a bit of effort.  Plus my garden chairs need respraying - I can see painty days ahead!