Monday, May 01, 2017

New stomping ground

Well, little Pippin had an adventure this weekend. Since he seemed to be the one most adjusting to our new life, I let him out for a run-around on Saturday afternoon, and he got lost. Stayed out all night while I was beside myself and sleepless with worry. I had gone out looking for him until midnight, and again as soon as it was light. Spent the day alternately staking out the kitchen in hopes he would show up, and wandering the countryside whistling his special whistle and calling his name. He finally came home at about 8:45 last night, and a joyous reunion - lessons learned all round - was had by all.

In the meantime, one of the positive results of the Pippin crisis was that I have now got to know, at least to be introduced to, most of my neighbours. And with all the walking around I did, I've learned where the principle blackberry, nettle, rose, robinia and elder patches are, and discovered that my own garden is currently blooming mightily with wild chamomile and mint, with a whole patch of very healthy looking nettles down by the irrigation canal.

I shall be out with my collecting bag very soon, I can assure you. The robinia is at its height and the elder is just coming to it, and I don't think another season should go by without at least one batch of liqueur. We'll see what we can do about elderflower champagne, and perhaps some non-alcoholic cordials for our abstaining friends - that turned out surprisingly well last year.

I went for a long bike ride the other day and discovered the elder starting to bloom along the banks of the Tiber, which is not far away and a very beautiful place to spend an afternoon.

Elder is a little harder to find here than in Norcia, (where it is a veritable forest of elder) but I've just found this recipe for Robinia liqueur.

The Robinia pseudoacacia, that we call Black Locust, is in full flower right now, and there is acres of it right outside the windows. It's leaves and roots are toxic, but the flowers are edible and are now heavily fragranced. Apparently the tradition in France in the pubs is to dip them in a light tempura-like batter and deep fry them. But I have learned to love flower-scented liqueurs and cordials.

So I think I'm going to give it a go.

Robinia liqueur

200 g acacia flowers
500 g granulated sugar
1 litre pure alcohol
2 tbsp acacia honey
1 litre water

Clean the flowers with a dry cloth, or soft brush. Put alternate layers of the flowers and sugar in a large glass bowl. Cover and leave to infuse for 48 hours. Then add the alcohol and honey. Leave the infusion until you can see that the sugar has totally dissolved. (Approximately one month.) Add the water and stir gently. Strain the liquid well and bottle.


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