How to make it:
It's all over bar the splashing at qarrtsiluni, the editorial decision making is drawing to a close. The water-themed edition will continue to be published until well into July, and it's running at an unprecedented two posts a day, because, though we had to make many a heart-breaking decision and pass over much, we still accepted an enormous number, because they were all so delicious! If you haven't visited, or haven't been lately, please go and look. I feel inordinately proud of it, while being fully aware my overall part in it has been small. It's been a marvellous experience, if not always easy, and I still don't know what all its effects will be on me, but I think they'll be significant. It's been nothing but a privilege to work with the my brilliant and indefatigable, inspired and inspirational, co-editor and managing editors, and perhaps most of all with the writers, poets, artists and photographers who submitted work, I've gained glimpses into worlds I'd never dreamed of ...
Other projects and adventures and things to find out about await, ghazals and Mahima's travelling journal among them. More on these later, no doubt. And of course I really should be painting the back wall-plate and pointing the gable-end of the house this summer...
***Gorgeous, Moon Walking Bee Drunken, with whom, as she is a Texan in the shires of South-East England, and hence a slightly culturally displaced person, I like to flatter myself I have something in common, often comes with me, virtually, on my walks with Mol. In fact, I would like to have more in common with her elegant, witty, informed, literary prose, she really ought to be writing a column somewhere, to say nothing of her knowledge of snickerdoodle and other baking matters. She enquired about elderflower cordial, and the making thereof, so, that process having just been completed, here is the recipe, with illustrations, before the blossoms go over. I love an opportunity to release my inner food photographer!
1 kg sugar, I use white as it makes a pretty clear cordial and doesn't impinge on the delicate flavour, but I've seen browner sugars suggested, or some honey might be interesting.
850 ml (1 1/2 pints) boiling water
45g (1 1/2 oz, about four tablespoons ) citric acid, you really do need this, I tried doing without and using extra lemons the first time I made it, and it turned out horribly sweet and started to ferment almost immediately. Get it from the pharmacist.
15 to 20 elderflower heads. Don't pick them too green or in bud, they're difficult to separate from the stalks and will taste of cat's pee. The further blown they are the better, though obviously if they've got too many black bits that's not so nice.
2 sliced lemons.
Strip all the little flowers off the stems. This takes ages, c'est un travail de patience, but I am, relatively, time rich and cash poor. Some suggest doing it with a fork, others with scissors, but in my experience, you can't beat just pulling them off with your finger tips. The aim is to get as little stalk in with them as possible. Remember, white bits of elder = ambrosial perfume and flavour worthy to be drunken by angels, green bits of elder = cat pee.
I have to add this process is probably not recommended for any with a pollen allergy, I have a disgustingly robust constitution as regards anything like that but my nose still tickles and a blocked-up headache lurks at the edges of my awareness for a day or two after I've done it. Your fingers become a delightful dusty yellow.
Finally, you end up with a bowl of fairy confetti.
Put the sugar into a big bowl, and pour on the boiling water. It looks a colossal amount of sugar, which makes you realise how much sugar is contained in commercial drinks and sodas. Stir until it dissolves. Stir in the citric acid, elderflowers, and sliced lemons.
Cover the bowl, and leave to stand for about five days, stirring daily. The stirring is quite important as the lemons have a tendency to catch a bit of mould, so keep an eye out for that, fish'em out if they do. It will make the whole house smell heavenly, and is almost worth doing just for that.
Strain once through a sieve, and again through the sieve lined with muslin, or I use kitchen roll, with plenty of changes. Coffee filter's probably a bit too slow and would block.
This makes about a litre and a half, and although it's not so elegant, it's best to store it in the 'fridge in plastic bottles, a large mineral or tonic water water one is ideal. Elderflowers must contain huge amounts of natural yeasts, as all it really wants to do is ferment. The citric acid inhibits this to a point, as does the cool of the fridge, but it is a wild and mercurial brew, so drink it up quick. Shouldn't be too much of a problem. Dilute it to taste of course, perhaps one part to four or five. It's also very good on strawberries and lemon sorbet.