More alco-frolicking & Rhubarb Schnapps

This week has been a bit busy, what with maternal duties, hospital appointments and migraines taking up my time.  I had intended to post the recipe for my Cherry Plum Chutney which I will do soon, I hope.  In the meantime, I did manage to do some alco-frolicking and bottled three lots of spirits I have been steeping.

The Currant Shrub recipe which I shared here, was ready for having sugar added and then bottling.  I made two batches, one with dark rum and one with white to see whether either was preferable.  The bottles need to lie down in a dark room until Christmas (sounds like me!), but obviously I had to try some of the drips.  Both are VERY promising.

The Raspberrycello was also ready for bottling which was doubly exciting because unlike its late developing neighbour, it is ready for drinking now AND the vodka sozzled raspberries were begging to be eaten.  I made a rather grown up jelly with the drunken fruit and the Captain and I enjoyed it one evening in front of the telly.  Yum.

Finally, my Rhubarb Schnapps was also ready for bottling.  I set this to steep back in about March when the first rhubarb had just begun to be available.  It turned out to be the only and last harvest from my Mum’s garden which is very sad.  Long has she provided me with rhubarb but it seems her plants have finally given up the ghost.  However, I would like to think this tipple is a fitting tribute.  The recipe is a Nigella Lawson and is divine.  You may still be able to track down some rhubarb or just file it away until i is next in season.

Rhubarb Schnapps

Makes 1 litre

approximately 1kg rhubarb, to make 600g trimmed weight

300g caster sugar

1 litre vodka (cheaper the better)

Chop the rhubarb and place into a 2 litre jar.  Add the sugar, put the lid on and shake well.  Pour in the vodka to fill, adding more if necessary.  Close lid and store somewhere cool and dark for at least 6 weeks and up to 6 months.  Shake the jar every day or every other day for the first month or so.  Sometime between 6 weeks and 6 months, then, strain through scalded muslin and pour into sterilised bottles.

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Indulgence …

Tonight I am feeling fed up. Is that allowed? I think it is. For tonight at any rate. I will not stay fed up for long. But just now I am having a wee bit of a wallow. Indulge me.

I have not slept for a while. Which is not helping my mood. I am not good at sleeping but even by my not-very-high-standards the last two nights have been dismal. Dawn breaks here at 4:30am, I have discovered.

This is not why I am fed up. It has to be said it does not make me feel bouncy and full of fun, but it is not the reason why. No.

I am fed up with feeling poorly. I had my accident on the 30th day of November, 2010 at approximately 11 o’clock in the morning. I know this because I had been listening to Woman’s Hour on Radio 4 and it had just finished.

I do not look like this anymore. I have come a long, long way. However, since then, I think I have had about five weeks of feeling well. That’s not much, is it? On the up side, at least I know that I can feel well which presumably means I will be well all the time again one day. But I do rather wish that day would hurry up.

Today I went to the hospital. Again. I saw my lovely Maxillo Facial consultant. Again.

‘Hello,’ he said, then with irony, ‘it’s been an age!’

‘I know,’ I replied, ‘you must have missed me.’

‘Oh, I did, I did! That’s why I had to get you back.’

‘It’s because you love me, you can’t function in clinic without me.’

‘Very true. I think I see you more than I see my wife!’

Having dispensed with our banter, he decided that I am ill. Six years to become a dentist, a further five years training to be a doctor and then years working through a surgical program to diagnose that I. Am. Ill. Hope for the NHS yet, then. There are two working theories: a) I have chronic infected sinusitis which is a known but not frequent complication following my type of injury or b) I have an infection at the site of my other metal plates or in the bones themselves. Neither option is good but a) is infinitely preferrable to b). So more antibiotics have been commenced. Nose drops have been added to the mix. Steam inhalations have been ordered. An ENT referral has been made. An ultra sound scan is being organised. I will return to the Max Fax clinic in two weeks. Because he cannot function without me. Obviously.

Having indulged me in my moaning, I would like to share another, nicer, indulgence with you. Before I went to the hospital, I pottered up the garden in search of chillies, would you believe. I got side tracked. The redcurrant bushes that I had given up on were weighed down with fruit! I was beside myself with happiness. It does not take much. I picked over 600g and set about making Currant Shrub which should be ready in time for Christmas. My gift to you for making it through this dismal post is the recipe. Enjoy.

Currant Shrub

Makes about 1 litre

300ml strained redcurrant juice (1kg redcurrants simmered for 45mins in 400ml water should yield at least this)

600ml rum or brandy

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

1tsp grated nutmeg

300g granulated sugar

Mix the redcurrant juice, rum or brandy, orange zest and nutmeg together in a large wide-necked jar. Don’t worry if the mixture becomes a gel, it will liquify once the sugar is added later. Seal the jar and leave for 7-10 days in a cool, dark place.

Transfer the currant and alcohol mixture to a pan, add the sugar and heat gently to about 60c. When the sugar has dissolved, strain the liqueur through a jelly bag or muslin. Decant the strained liquid into a sterilised bottle and seal with a cap.

Store for several months in a cool dark place so the shrub can fully mature. Use within 2 years.