Out like a lion, these last few days of April. Nothing but bluff and bluster; the wind skimming across thigh-high grass, shaking loose the last of the magnolia flowers, knocking milk crates over into an untidy pile. A swirl of raindrops here, a streak of warm sun there, dark simmering blue sky in the mountaintop distance.
Things are as lush and green and full as far as my eye can see.
We open the window at night to let the cool breeze and chorus of a million frogs multiplying and rattle of the trains across the tracks in.
Life has been a whirl lately. Transplanting. Sunburns. Baby goats (kids). Plenty of visitors. Fishing by the river. Cows leaping, let out to pasture. Our first market! Rhubarb.
Can I tell you about the flowers? There were snowdrops on cemetery hillsides, daffodils, acres of tulips and a succession of cherry blossoms. The apple trees are blooming, the lilacs deepening into purple and alongside every road stands an elderberry bush or two, flush with fragrant white flowers.
They are easy to gather, and with them you can make an elixir that captures the scent of these sweet, cool, hopeful days.
From Tender: Volume II
20 (about 225g) elderflower heads
1 kg sugar
1.25 L water
2 lemons, cut into quarters
2 limes, cut into quarters
Inspect the flowers for insects and dust. Shake or quickly rinse, but don't wash them. Remove the toughest stalks with scissors; they are likely to be bitter.
Warm the sugar and water together in a large saucepan til the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat. Dunk the flowers and the quartered fruit into the syrup and set aside to cool. When the liquid is cold, cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Strain through a fine sieve and decant into sterilized bottles.This is an excellent use for your elderflower cordial:
If you don't have your own elderflower cordial, try using Belvoir Elderflower Pressé. It's already bubbly so you won't need any sparkling water.
1 measure gin (I am partial to Victoria Spirits' version)
sparkling or soda water
Mix elderflower liqueur and gin together, top with cordial and finish with a splash or two of sparkling or soda water.