Thursday, June 08, 2006

Foul and delicious

The playing-with-melted-candles thing is obviously a widespread practice, you identified the alien artefacts so quickly! This would have been my next clue, had you needed one:

- these are just as my daughter LG left them lying on the washstand in our hall..... She's rarely happier than when in her room, listening to Cradle of Filth, and playing with candles... She coats her fingers and carefully stores the relics of shaped wax. The disconcerting flesh colour is the result of blending all sorts of left over bits of melting wax. Her rug is covered with gobbets of wax and I keep finding little piles of these foul and scary items around the place. I think she's starting a collection...

As is clearly the case for lots of you, I do understand the attraction (although I find the "collection" a bit worrying) - nothing more fun than playing with the candles at the end of a good meal with friends over the red wine and cheese. Thats hyperbole, obviously, there are some more fun things... I hesitate to mention quavers, but not much of a hesitation, no doubt someone else will say it if I don't.

From the foul and scary to the delightful and delicious:
The picture below is from Wild Food, a wonderful book by Roger Phillips - a guide to finding, identifying and using wild plants, mushrooms etc.

There are some great recipes/ideas and lovely pictures, though some of the photos have hunks of meat nestling amidst the woodland roots, fruits, flowers and funghi, which strikes me as somehow bizarre. I must have a (narrow) vegetarian streak in me somewhere.

This picture is elderflower champagne and water ice:
Elderflowers are just coming into bloom in London - probably will be later for all you country folks (and not for a couple of months in the North East Cream) Though its in Durham that I first made elderflower champagne, which is WONDERFUL - also easy, and fun to do with children.

Try it, if you haven't! Its a gorgeous fragrant flowery flavour, extremely refeshing and summery. (Elderflowers are also good fried in a light batter, and/or added to rhubarb dishes).

There is a natural yeast on the flowers which makes this drink powerfully fizzy. Its not alcoholic - presumably because the yeast is the wrong kind and/or doesn't ferment for long enough to produce alcohol. It is however vigorous enough that I've known it to explode even glass cider bottles - so caution is needed!

Here is the recipe from the Wild Food book:
NB Collect suitable bottles ahead of time - I use plastic fizzy drinks bottles.

Elderflower champagne
4-6 elderflower heads in full bloom (more if they are small heads)
4 1/2 pints (1 gallon) boiling water
1 lemon
1 1/2 lb sugar
2 tablespoons white vinegar.

Dissolve the sugar in the water. Add the squeezed and chopped lemon and juice - add, with the elderflowers, to the water. Leave to steep for 4 days. Strain off and bottle.
Ready to drink within a week usually, test for fizziness from 2 or 3 days - sometimes it "goes" very quickly, sometimes takes a bit longer. If it doesn't seem to work, leave it in sunlight. Occasionally a batch fails, but it usually works.

And I'd recommend making at least twice this much! it goes fast....

And below is my sister-in-law's recipe for elderflower cordial - this has the advantage of being easier to store than the champagne as it is concentrated (so needs to be diluted with plain or with sparkling water before drinking). It also stores well in fridge or freezer.

Elderflower Cordial
25 flowerheads
2 kilos sugar
2 litres of water
2 lemons cut into 8/10 pieces
50g citric acid

Boil the water and sugar for 10 mins. Leave to cool a bit then add all the other ingredients. After 2 days remove the lemon pieces. On the 3rd day take out the flowers and bottle. Keep in fridge or freezer.

In the Autumn I'll bring you a marvellous elderberry syrup recipe.

All very delicious and not at all foul.

Though once it has fizzed, you may need to keep letting the pressure off now and then to avoid exploding bottles. And if M drinks too much of this champagne, we all suffer from explosions of noxious flatulence. Be warned.

Dangerous but delicious.


euro-trac said...

How funny are Cradle of Filth? For a minute there, I thought they were going to rock! How wrong I was!

ramblingwoman said...

Oh you beat me to it Lettie with the Elderflower champagne thingy. But thanks for recipe! Saves me looking for it in our garage!

I do remember the explosive results the drink gets from M's nether regions! Ewwww

More wax fingertips? No thanks. Barf

Kitty said...

We don't need anymore wind here, thanks. But sounds good. I'm a sloe gin girl myself though.

lettuce said...

oooh yes, sloe gin. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Cradle of Filth - yes, don't you just love them!

Kitty said...

Definitely not.

ramblingwoman said...

I've just listened to Cradle of Filth (not realising it was a link before! doh!). Um, what can I say. Lots of men swinging their hair. A bit like Texas actually, but with comedy voices!

lettuce said...

hahahaha Luce, yes!

cream said...

Your Champagne sounds so easy to make! Except for us folk up here, we have to wait another two months to indulge!

I think I'll just head for Tesco and grab myself some Cava...

Tell LG that we scrape lots of candlewax off the tables if she needs any...!o)

Joanna said...

I love that book its excellent. Have posted the paintings I talked about on my blog!

Kitty said...

Not devoured by the slugs then?

Kitty said...

Not devoured by the slugs then?

lettuce said...

phew, thank goodness i'm still here.

Donna said...

Hooray you're back! Now I can talk to you again :-)

Firstly I wanted to say that when bootsaling my little bag is only for the things I take with me, to leave my hands free for rummaging. My purchases get hung on and stuffed under the buggy. Very useful things, buggies, I made Alfie stay in his until he was 4!

Secondly- Elderflower champagne, yummy. My mum used to make it every year and we drank it before it became alcoholic (we called it Summer Bubbly) as my parents were of the non drinking variety back then. It sometimes went alcoholic if left a little too long and then my sister and I would get very giggly! The taste is soooooo delicious.

No going away now ;-)

ramblingwoman said...

Phew you're back!

Donna said...

Oh and thirdly - Quilts, I find nothing gets rid of stains better than Ace bleach. You put some on neat to soak and then a capful in the washing machine. Smells nice too. You must post piccies, I'd love to see them :-)

wendz said...

I don't understand this...I keep commenting and it keeps getting eaten...and of course now, 2 days later, I haven't a clue what I said...except to ask if you had a recipe for ginger beer..I used to make it when I was a kid and it rocked and fizzed...

Molly Bloom said...

I'm sorry I haven't been around. Busy marking and blogger has just been a nightmare this week hasn't it? I hope you are ok and not finding too many of those wax things everywhere. They look so much like chopped off fingers to me. Ew.

That elderflower drink looks gorgeous too.

Kitty said...

Ooooh it's a full moon. You'll be out and about tonight then!!!? See ya there.

Calamity Tat said...

Those things are disgusting, she'd better not sneak any of my candles whilst here and I won't be having any of that farting lark neither... I'm a ladydeeee you know!