Kittens! and More…

Ziva the cat had two kittens, a tortoise shell tabby and a calico. They’re absolutely adorable, and she’s a wonderful mother!

This weekend is Mother’s Day, and I’ll be posting a recipe soon for a criminally easy chocolate lava cake that will drive family and friends absolutely batty (picked up at our annual Lake Association picnic,) as well as another dessert recipe I haven’t decided on yet. All I know is that it will include lots of yummy berries!

So It Begins! No. 1/100, Honeysuckle Sorbet.

Yesterday, I gathered four cups of honeysuckle blossoms, which, when packed down in a measuring cup, is a lot more than you would think. Luckily, near our house is a school with a fence just covered in vines. Now, left to its own devices, as this was, honeysuckle can sprawl to untold lengths and provide hundreds of little, fluttery blossoms. This particular specimen spilled down both sides of an eighty foot long, eight foot tall fence and reached the ground. It’s remarkable, actually, how a large honeysuckle vine can become its own miniature ecosystem. This one was full of chickadees, sparrows, hummingbird hawk moths and garden spiders.

Where I live, the most common variety of honeysuckle is called Japanese, or white honeysuckle. It has bright white blossoms that turn buttery yellow as they age. Its nectar is edible and, frankly, delicious, as anyone who’s ever plucked the end off of one to suck the clear fluid out knows. The berries are poisonous on most varieties, and I have no idea on which variety they are not, so I would advise against attempting it.

In older days, the plant was known as woodbine for its tendency to wrap around trees and cause constriction and bulging in the trunks as they grew. It makes a beautiful scent as well, if done correctly. Both Caswell-Massey and Crabtree & Evelyn carry honeysuckle scents, but neither of them smell much like the real thing to me, coming off very artificial instead. Mary Kay had the best honeysuckle perfume I’ve ever smelled, but it was sadly discontinued.

I tried following the NPR website’s version of honeysuckle sorbet, but it was written too vaguely, and by the time I realized what it was directing me to do, I had already thrown out a necessary ingredient! Today, I am instead making the version from Biscuits and Such.

Here I’d like to note that in the future, there will be pictures with the posts! It just so happens that today, my camera was on holiday at a friend’s house. :)

Last night, I took my 4 cups of blossoms and soaked them in 5 1/2 cups of cool water. This morning, I strained the water through a mesh colander and discarded the blossoms. A simple syrup, some freezing, and some blending later, I had sorbet! I don’t have an ice cream maker, so I instead froze the sorbet in a bowl and fluffed it with a fork every hour or so, then when it was fully frozen I dropped it in the blender until it was smooth and silky. I also did not add cinnamon to the sorbet itself, just cracked some on top using a grinder. I have to say, the cinnamon makes all the difference, really elevating the flavor and cutting the otherwise syrupy sweetness.

As of this writing, I find it delicious, Bridgette is on her second helping, and James says it tastes like springtime! We’ll have to see what Mom thinks when she gets home. If you have a lot of honeysuckle, or have fond memories of stealing nectar from the backs of the blossoms, I can’t reccommend this strongly enough. If you’re a fan of floral flavors as well, particularly orange blossom, I also reccommend it. But hurry! Honeysuckle only blooms with abandon for a few weeks each year…

Look! Filler!

It’s a lazy Saturday afternoon, taken in recovery of a Friday of intense cleaning, and I thought I’d take a moment to update this and just sort of talk a little about the world in which I live.

Right now it’s somewhat cloudy and definitely humid outside, which in spring around these parts means we’re probably going to have an evening storm. This enormous computer on which I’m typing is a fancy new touchscreen, so every few sentences I get derailed by Ziva, my grey tabby, who likes to bat at the cursor. Actually, just as I was typing this sentence, she opened a photoblog she found interesting. :)

Ziva is pregnant, and I feel like a horrible cat mommy because of it. We rescued her last October, when she just sort of leapt into our lives, and she was very small and malnourished when we found her, out by a large lake in our city, smelling of dead fish and with a small hole in her left ear big enough to put an earring through, if we ever felt inclined. We vastly underestimated her age, since she only looked about twelve weeks old in size, and when we realized how old she was, well…it was too late.

I’ve compiled about fifty recipes I’m going to use so far. Most of them are summery recipes, because I do want to take advantage of in-season fruits, especially peaches, as we may not be Georgia but we grow some rather fine ones around here. Several of them feature roses, which are one of a LONG list of my favorite flowers and one of my favorite flavors. A few of them will seem a little wintry or autumnal, and in those cases I’ll definitely try to make them on cooler days, for effect as well as the fact that it can and most often does get beastly hot here in the summer and the oven can be a nightmare to run.

I may also post about some recipes I’ve made before but am trying again. Perhaps a Way-Back Wednesday thing, I’m not sure. I also may have the opportunity to go and pick first-hand some of the ingredients I’ll use…we currently have a tomato plant, some herbs and a blackberry bush that’s just covered in blossoms, as well as a dwarf pomegranate and a nearby thicket of honeysuckle. If all goes well, I’ll be getting a blueberry bush and maybe some raspberries soon as well as a Kentucky Colonel mint plant to replace the one I used to have that died. I also might get to harvest anything from corn and black-eyed peas to apricots and cherries depending on how I time my visits to my Dad’s, and I’m also a bit of a forager in public parks where I’ve observed, for several years now, huge crops of fruit just falling to the ground once ripe.

I’ll also be making some different drinks, mostly non-alcoholic but a couple of cocktails, that aren’t included in the recipe count because they’re just not that hard and can usually be made using surplus ingredients.

Finally, I’ll also be documenting my adventures in rendering lard and tallow, as well as making pectin stock, which is a beautiful, beautiful thing to a self-sufficiency lover, and trying out some jam recipes with Pomona’s Universal Pectin, which, if reports are to be believed, is strong and versitile enough that I can substitute the sugar in some of my recipes with honey. And THAT would be nice.

And, girly moment, don’t you just love this theme? I’m more than a little bit of an aesthete, and I loved the arrangement and font as well as the beautiful, pink dogwood blossoms. I’m glad I can enjoy them here, because actual dogwood pollen makes me sneeze!

Anyway, stay tuned for the first of many recipe posts to come!

Here It Is!

The Summer of 100 Recipes will officially kick off on Thursday, May 3, after I’ve taken all my final exams for the semester. :) Tentatively speaking, I ‘m going to try a recipe from NPR for Honeysuckle Sorbet.