As you know, one of my favourite happy, peaceful ways of putting a nice wall between myself and uncertainty is by engaging with creativity. So I have been regularly picking up my journal and I have been allowing my hand to release my tensions through intuitive drawing.. and I am writing in my daily gratitude journal and filling in a few more pages from my creativity workbook...........But I have other ways as well of sealing myself off from the world for a time - yum yum, glug glug!
By eclectic cooking, trying my hand, mouth and taste buds at making all sorts of exciting foody things .......including trying my hand at things my distant family used to conjure up from nature's larder - berries, mushrooms, fruits that I would gaze at on the kitchen table with amazement before they were subjected to the magic hands of my grandmother or aunt or cousin - and even more so after the first mouth full of whatever came out of their cooking pot!
So, what did I decide to make this time that would be exciting and evocative in so many ways - a batch of ... elderberry syrup. I discovered this years ago while visiting my Russian relatives. It always used to amuse me when opening my aunt's and cousin's fridges to see them full of jars of forest fruits prepared in all sorts of ways ... fresh ones with sugar on top, juices, syrups, amazing. And I remember that on my two day journey through Russia, Ukraine, Moldavia and Romania... by train ... back to Bucharest I had a sort of "can't wait to get home feeling" because some of those jars were in my luggage! Sweet memories (literally and metaphorically).... I wish I had more memories of those times ... I wish ....
But, back to the elderberries .... my relatives, like many other Russians had, and still have I am sure,.. a deep connection with wild life, the forests and the gifts one has from the forests at different times of the year. They could tell which plant heals what, which berry is safe to eat and which one it wasn't, which mushroom is good to eat, pickle, cook and which one isn't! That knowledge was transferred from generation to generation.
So here I am, years later, preparing one of those syrups ... remembering with a warm feeling my Russian roots.
What do you need to make it? Here it is:
3 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup dried elderberries
2 tbsp grated ginger
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 cup raw honey (or a bit less .... it's up to you)
First, pour the water into a saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, cloves. Bring to boil, cover, reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes. Remove from the heat, let it cool, mash the berries carefully using a spoon. Pour through a strainer in a jar or bowl, discard the elderberries and let the liquid cool a bit. You are almost there ... add the honey, stir nicely and pour the liquid into a jar or glass bottle. When it is cold, store it in the fridge. Take 1 tbsp every day, add it to the top of your porridge, or pancakes, or a biscuit. It is really lovely I can tell you that. It is said that it also helps strengthen the immune system so why not prepare some? ..... Glug glug! oooooh.