Thursday, August 26, 2010

Feeling a bit more here

The house is getting in order. I'm putting away things as they should be, getting the kids' rooms ready for them, watering the garden and just re-investing it all with my energy and presence.

I've refreshed my sourdough bread starter (I stashed it into the freezer for the summer, upon the recommendation of Shirley Corriher in Cookwise) -- or rather I'm in the midst of refreshing it and have added flour and water to it to double its volume now for two days in a row. However, it isn't bubbling fiercely as yet, so I'll wait another day or two to make bread.

I've picked and simmered and canned elderberry syrup, sirop des baies de sureau, for this winter's various throat ailments (though it's rare that the boys are sick, Jonas has been known to cough occasionally). They were there, abundant on the trees, and I'm here. Thus, why not?

It was easy. I got out the ladder, my scissors and a basket and harvested away. Then I brushed the berries into a tub of water with my fingers to remove the stems and wash them, also sift out the dried or green berries, the branches, etc. I put them in my big copper jam pot with two litres of water and two plus 2/3 (all I had) kilos of sugar. I simmered for a bit. Then turned it off and let it sit over night. Then I mixed the whole batch in the blender -- breaking up the berries-- and put it back onto simmer. Then I poured through a strainer, pressing with a silicon spatula to get the least bit out. And voila. Now, no doubt, I should sterilize them. I don't think my quantity of sugar is enough to truly preserve. There was more juice in the berries than I anticipated, and I've quite a bit made. It was only 2 litres of water, but I've 2 bottles (750ml) and 3 jars (500ml).

In fact, the final product is a bit bland and vegetal in flavor. Though it is gorgeously deep purple and enticing to the eye, it won't replace black currant syrup for drinks or kyr any time soon.

Meantime, kidless for the week, I'm living a night life as I've rarely done since my youth. The days are too hot to be up and about (after 11AM that is) and the evenings are wonderfully refreshing and pleasant. There are tango balls all over the region, and so off I go. Being a night owl is not helping me get over jet lag. Quite the contrary. But as I'm able to work somewhat during the day (translations, email list, missive to the world for my tourism business, writing, letters, articles, etc.,) I don't feel completely slothful -- though definitely somewhat.

It is always such a strange thing to have time on one's hands. Once you become a mother, run a household, have a job, a thousand things to do daily, etc., it is simply surreal to be mellow and to discover you have time to read a novel -- if quite lovely. It looks like I'll be finishing Wolf Hall (all about the Tudors and Thomas Cromwell) by this weekend.

Tomorrow a few more errands, perhaps a bike ride? and more writing. Thus, perhaps, I'll feel virtuous and useful, if only briefly.

1 comment:

Nathalie said...

Sirop de sureau ? I'd never heard of it. Too bad it doesn't taste as nice as it looks !

Welcome home Madeleine (or is home the right word ? should I say welcome back ????).

Hope to see you soon. I'm in l'Isle for the weekend but shall be back on Monday.