Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Holy Grail found

Prunus spinosa

  In a quiet sheltered sunny spot on the Tottenham allotment my search for the first sloe blossom and any sign of spring have finally been rewarded with Easter bonnet beautiful sprigs of creamy flowers. Possibly the first in the UK as the freezing weather continues.

In celebration a cocktail, first created in 1908, to ease us throught the bank holiday:

Ruby Cocktail

Ingredients (per single cocktail)

2.5cl Sloe Gin
2.5cl Sweet Vermouth
1 dash cherry liqueur
1 dash orange bitters
twist of lemon peel

Stir all together, strain and twist lemon peel over the top to release oil

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Go East young woman

For the homesick Walthamstow wanderer finding themselves washed up on the far shores of E1 and Spitalfields, a taste of home is now available at A Gold. Selling all sorts of traditional British foods from Kendal mintcake to Fitzpatrick's Temperance cordials from Lancashire, Mother's Ruin has found a home from home on it's eccentric but tastefully stocked shelves.
Philip and Paulo run this gorgeous little shop making delicious home made soup, scotch eggs and generously stuffed sandwiches for hungry city folk, alongside coffee that I can only describe as rocket fuel and from which I am still feeling a little breezy (and that is from last week) .

Mother's Ruin is also going on tour with the Wanstead Tap, another escapee from the rat race who is going to be appearing at East London farmer's markets selling locally made beers like the Jack of Clubs from the lovely Wild Card Brewery based in Higham Hill.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Lost in Breugel and the long wait for Spring

 Mother's Ruin went to the far reaches of her Northern territories searching for signs of sloe and damson blossom, or the first traces of spring. Walking through the birch woods was like being in one of my favourite paintings Hunters in the Snow by Breugel the Elder.

  The sloes held their blossom tightly budded and close, with no hint of unfurling too early only to be sharply bitten. But the hard ground was good fortune for me, as Brian was able to drive his tractor over the fields with the last four tonnes of bark mulch for the soft fruit beds. It saved me and my brother hours of work transporting it in small loads to the orchard. I went down to Park End farm to thank him and found him and Eunice sitting in the kitchen drinking tea and listening to Johnny Cash singing San Quentin whilst taking a break from lambing. They'd had an unplanned arrival of new lambs having put their elderly ram in with some ewes all planned to be taken to market last autumn. The old tup, not realising his working days were over continued to do what he always did best, with the result of some fine fat lambs this spring.

On the western slopes of the orchard the snow didn't settle, so we were finally able to finish mulching the gooseberry beds. So now we wait for some warmth and a bit of sunshine...

Friday, 15 March 2013

Rheum rhubarbarum

It's all about rhubarb today, the first stalks are finally here, as pink as seaside rock, - juicy and sharp and fragrant. I've spent the morning slicing it with the lethal Japanese knife which was a wedding present a few years ago. So sharp it cuts through many stems cleanly and at once, and makes quick work of a few pounds of fruit.

Rhubarb has been in cultivation since at least 2700BC. It has been a much used herb in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and was considered so potent that it was advised to be taken in small amounts only. This has not prevented my excesive eating of rhubarb crumble. One of it's main properties is as a digestive tonic, so combined with fresh root ginger in my rhubarb and ginger vodka it surely is a perfect post feast digestif.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Last March I was dazzled by the sweet acid bright colours of the forced rhubarb currently in season and used some for the rhubarb and ginger vodka. Gorgeous colour, but tasted of nothing. I've got 20 litres of delicate rosé coloured liqueur with only a shadow of the tart juicy flavour that I'm after.
I've decided to re-infuse it with some unforced rhubarb which I've had in the freezer and some fresh ginger. By the time it is done it will then have taken two years, but I think it could be fantastic and will mean I won't waste all that good vodka!

I've entered the 2013 Good Taste food awards with my Damson Gin and the Rhubarb and Ginger Vodka. Judging is in May and June and I'm excited to get some critical feedback.
I'm also linking in with Waltham Forest Fairtrade group to find out about whether Mother's Ruin could be fairtrade. The last few bottles of the gooseberry and elderflower vodka are selling quickly. The heady floral hit is a reminder of spring and sunshine whilst outside the rain is drumming on the roof.

I've also become a member of E17Designers who work as a collective to promote the work of Walthamstow's great community of independent designers and makers through their website and a series of fairs - the next one coming up on May 11th. New link attached to the blog.