Thursday, 27 June 2013

Heralding the official arrival of the British summer

It's been a busy few weeks with elder blossom coming into it's full glory. Luminous in the dark corner of St Mary's Churchyard, along Vinegar Alley and in all the forgotten corners the  urban forager finds scented treasure.

A dry early morning is the best time to gather it, when the scent is strongest. These flowers are destined for the gooseberry and elderflower vodka which I will make in the next few weeks when the gooseberries ripen.

Meanwhile they are filling the house with their fragrance, a bright heap awaiting being steeped in vodka.

 A recipe for making elderflower cordial;

Best consumed within two weeks, although it'll keep for a month if bottled and can be frozen in plastic bottles (leave some space, as the liquid expands)

20 elderflower heads
2½ pints boiling water
3½lbs sugar
1 sliced lemon 2tsp
citric acid (available from the chemist)


Put all the dry ingredients into a clean pan and pour boiling water over them. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Skim off the surface scum. Cover with a cloth or lid. Stir twice daily for five days. Strain through a muslin and bottle.
A little cordial in some prosecco makes a gorgeous summery cocktail.

Meanwhile frantic bottling and labeling is going on each evening in preparation for the divine Auntie Maureen's gourmet food fare at The Bell on Sat 29th. A wondrous cornucopia of local edible delights, featuring cake makers, chutney and jam producers as part of the Appetite E17 festival.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

My new friends the sheep

The first blazing hot weekend of the year was partially spent in the orchard with my new friends the sheep. Handsome!

They've been moved up from Parkend Farm to graze the long grass in the orchard. Forgetful of their role as grazers they decided to nibble the tender sweet tips of the newly branching apple and damson trees. So we spent a few hours fortifying the tree enclosures with extra wire. We also nailed and staked chicken wire around the soft fruit beds as rabbits have been eating the rhubarb leaves. So, not poisonous after all it seems. 

The other part of the weekend was spent climbing my beloved fells, to take in the glorious view from Bannerigg Crag and to have a cup of tea freshly brewed.

Back in Walthamstow the Appetite E17 festival is ongoing, with Wild Card brewery's beer festival opening at the Warrant Officer this evening. on the 29th of June The Gin Palace will be going on a brief tour to the Bell on Forest Rd for Auntie Maureen's gourmet food fair. When Auntie M is not playing DJ sets with her trusty 1930's gramophone she's been busy bringing all sorts of local food and drink producers together for one delicious afternoon only.

This Saturday is World Gin Day and I would encourage everyone to support gin magnates the world over by taking a wee measure. For the adventurous Londoner there is also a gin tour through the streets of old Clerkenwell.


For Gin lovers and drinkers the...


Sweet vermouth, Campari, Gin, Orange peel

3clSweet vermouth
1twstOrange peel (as garnish)

Stir, strain, rocks, lowball. Garnish with orange twist or flamed orange peel.