By Sarah, Jun 26 2015 02:36PM
“Call the prisoner to the dock.
“Sarah Coomer, you stand accused that on the eight of May and upon several subsequent occasions you did wilfully and with malice aforethought pass the Sandford Millennium Green woodland bit next to the road with the wholly inadequate fencing alongside it, and that fully in possession of your faculties you FAILED to stop the car in order to pick the armfuls of the wild garlic which you knew full well was growing abundantly there, and that accordingly you did NOT stuff any of it into the only thing you had to hand, i.e. dog poo bags whilst avoiding eye contact and keeping an appropriate distance in order to minimise general middle class embarrassment with the other bloke doing the same thing also accompanied by an indifferent and huffy child brooding upon spending an afternoon pulling weeds up in a wood that could otherwise have been gainfully employed pulling pretend weeds up in a pretend wood made of cubes. And having done NONE of the above, that you did FAIL to return home and shove it all in the Magimix with some of the AMAZING hand pressed olive oil from Steve and Martine’s olive grove, a handful of toasted walnuts (it really makes all the difference, m’lud) and a chunk of desiccated ‘Taste the Difference’ Gran Padano (sell by date end Nov 2014) because that’s all there was in the fridge and pop it in the jars recycled from last years hawthorn jelly, the last of which you enjoyed at the weekend with the rabbit Dodgy James swapped for a dozen duck eggs when he popped round to pick up one of his didgeridoos. Apart from the seven jars that you tipped down the bog after they went mouldy.
“And that you did on every single day of June so far walk past at least six million massive elderflower heads whilst walking a short fat dog and a gangly bonkers one in various locations throughout the County of Devon without once making an attempt to sever any of them and stash them in the Morrisons 50p bag for life which you did knowingly conceal in your car and never take out again even to use at actual Morrisons because you always forget to bring it in and ended up using those stupid tiny cardboard boxes instead. And that you did consequently get BACK into the car and straight home without a single elderflower and that you FAILED TO STOP at the new Co-op ‘to see what it’s like’ and to pick up the three tonnes of sugar required to convert every twenty heads into half a pint of cordial.
“Forty three counts of Not Making Nettle Soup when you had every opportunity and literally six acres of young nettles at your disposal not to mention a freezer full of home made chicken stock going begging to be taken into consideration.
“M’lud in light of the gravity of these heinous and depraved crimes, I can only recommend the harshest sentence: that the accused be taken from this court to a place of execution and drowned in a hand made oak cider barrel full of her own courgette chutney, twenty nine jars of which have been on a shelf in the garage since last August. And may Hugh have mercy on your soul.
“Officer, take her down……”
No, no pleaaasse... I promise I'll pick some... I promise... have mercyyyy ..Wh... Wha...? Where am I? Blimey. What a dream. Must have been all that nice unpasteurised goat's cheese I bartered for a sausage down Cheriton Bishop food market yesterday. Phew.
Alright. It’s a fair cop. I actually did get round to picking some wild garlic and I also managed to make at least three meals involving nettles. But I know I could have picked more, much more, of both. The shame. What kind of a handwringing hobby farmer are you, I hear you cry. And (prepare to lynch me, o subscriber to ‘Country Living’) I am eschewing the elderflower entirely, despite having a whole tree full of the things on my own driveway. Furthermore, I am also determined to ditch the nagging sense of guilt at not having turned it into any kind of almost pointless foodstuff with only days to go before it all goes crispy and falls off the tree. Yeah. So stick that in your trug and ferment it, Richard Mabey.
Elderflowers. Their pretty, starburst heads. The tiny dainty flowers which look bloody great on a cake. Their heady unmistakeable aroma. At this time of year social networks are clogged up with gleefully Instagrammed litres of cordial, champagne, wine. Cakes, biscuits and jellies. All set off with a delicate spray of blossoms. But I say STUFF THEM and their slightly cat wee whiff. At least for this year.
I gave sugar up a while back. Fascinatingly, when you give things up it turns out that a) you become an insufferable bore about it and shove the fact down the throats of anyone unfortunate enough to encounter you and b) you become massively sensitive to the presence of your chosen nemesis wherever it arises. And elderflower cordial, or ANYTHING, it seems you can do with elderflowers, involves at least the same amount of sugar required to make a life-size toffee statue of frowning money liker Alan Sugar stood on a crate of Tizer eating a massive stick of candy floss.
Don’t get me wrong. I like the smug glow that comes from fixing an elderflower gin with my own had wrought cordial as much as the next overprivileged numpty with too much time on their hands. (No offence, me.) (None taken, me.) •fist bump• (Ow.) (Sorry.) And my children like it as much as they like any other gloopy syrupy substance marketed to impressionable owners of disposable teeth. But they don’t NEED it. They will happily drink water. “Mummy, this water is DELICIOUS. It’s just perfect for washing down the quinoa and kale risotto. Thank you SO MUCH,” they trill, before offering each other the last chestnut flour falafel and bezzing off to recite Longfellow to each other whilst playing with their hand-forged sticks and hoops. Elderflower cordial may well contain any number of delicious health giving vitamins and minerals but mainly it contains twenty seven hundred weight of sugar per teaspoon. The sugar is necessary as a preservative, and I daresay neat elderflowers are none too yummy, but being your average overprivileged time-rich numpty, I am lucky enough to be able to afford / grow all the fruit and vegetables we need and my kids are therefore pretty unlikely to succumb to scurvy even without the benefit of scoffing said tree dandruff in any form. Unlike my brother who actually did succumb to scurvy. Yes, real actual weevil biscuit, piratey, Captain Bligh type scurvy. Because the only vegetable he would eat was lettuce. With butter on it. Once a year. IF ONLY MY MUM HAD GIVEN HIM ELDERFLOWER CORDIAL. Eh? EH???
Dog poo bags √ you forgot to mention they had to be the organic/self destructing sort, but only the dark green ones, the light green ones disintegrate as you open them and so thus as you slide your cornstarch covered hand round warm faeces... well you might as well pick the stuff up with your bare hands... I can't write that as eloquently as you though! The sugar thing is alarming, and while I haven't given it up, I have certainly stopped making kombucha and water kefir and they have gone the way of the recycling now. Neat sugar converted into acids, perfect for ones tooth enamel let alone everything else... I plead guilty to forcing Brian and poodles to grab a bag of blossom this year and then making some desultory bottles of goo which we haven't waterbathed and given appropriate love to and will probably get thrown out soon. No nettles have been picked this year. One year my Dad and sister picked some wild garlic and then thoughtfully put it in a stone pot with airtight lid and left it, and I found it when I was looking for some rice about eight weeks later, the smell was indescribable, my Dad just tittered a bit and said it does smell a bit... Sugar is the blind spot of all the healthy 'clean food' lot, if it is honey they like to say it isn't sugar and so on... anyway see how your exquisite rant prompts me to rant back, adore you and love you and is there any postal salami available ? xx Joanna
You selfish bugger....what I wouldn't give for Elderflowers to make stuff from....apples, blackberries and various other fruit delights still to go Sarah. I fully expect to see you blogging use of them when the time comes...mutter, mutter, grumble, grumble (or should that be crumble, crumble) Sorry (not) xxx
You can also follow Chants Cottage
on Social Media if you like.