I write my one hundredth post in homage to a tree.
Your eyebrows just hit you hair-line eh? It gives me great pleasure to introduce you my chum “Prunella”. She’s a cultivated and reformed wild child hybrid likely to have Roman ancestry, dont’cha know?
During the winter she stoically surveys all and is one of the first to blossom in the warm spring sun.
Her blossom is divine to the eye and, of course, the bees adore her. Then her lush leaves are a rich wonderful green.
Soon her fruits become mighty in colour, shape and form.
She’s a majestic lady of considerable years her branches snap under the heaving weight of her wonderfully coloured ripening fruits part of her magical realism.
Part of her fractured mystery is the short broken bough which is used by her stella clientel of woodpeckers. It is their training ground for drilling and fledging, 5 newbies this year alone,. 3 years ago the bough snapped as it was laden with 220lbs of fruit alone. Some years she regroups but mostly she is mostly a bounteous provider.
Charades last year whilst I was trying to cook and just … maybe a small amount of tincture (in this instance Pink Damson Gin) had been imbibed during their social twaddle as I prepared supper. It became my turn for an underwritten caricature.
“It’s a book?” “Four words.”
With one hec of a struggle, one assumed the pose of a delicious damsel with tumbling tresses. “Got it?”
“Hair Conditioner for idiots, Hairy Potters hair replacement, Hair today, gone tomorrow, The X files?”
“Sigh, Really? ” Whilst badly imitating a dragon or damsel fly. Frowns and nods as my mind is more on the dauphinoise?
“Seagull coming back from the chip shop?” (I was indeed only using one arm to illustrate)
“Pity sake!” Poor dear, Marcel Marceau posthumously audibly screaming with frustration. Intimating a combination of ‘sounds like’, (saw my pearl earing ‘fledge’ and disappear into a thick piled rug 20′ away).
I peer into an imaginary mirror and depicts a visual mutation to an ageing damson, (frankly, just too easy for words)
Then, as if in a silent movie, shock and anguish of age (the real deal happens most mornings)
Immediately a chorus as one voice “The Muppet Show!” bleat the less than honourable losers.
“No! I’m A Damsel in Distress”. ”
You certainly are dearie, you should have just pointed at the bottle!”. The label read. Damsons in Distress, now cheered by gin. The bottle was sitting next to the book …
The Gin is prepared by piercing the throughly washed fruit with a wooden skewer, place the fruit with 1 cup of sugar in a sterilised jar or bottle and cover with an inexpensive gin. Once the lid is firmly in place, give the bottle a dam fine shake and then leave it for 2-3 months in a cool dark place. When ready to use decant the gin, I pour ours through a disposable cloth, placed in a colander to strain into a glass bowl. Remove any stray bits before storing the pretty gin which makes a great gift if you can possibly bare to part with it.
Made now = ready for drinking at C C Chrriss… no, no, can’t say it yet I’m in deep denial.
For the residue, pinch out remaining stones or simply squidge the fruit through the colander to remove the stones and any tough skins and either secrete it for yourself or… no, or just hide it for yourself. If you feel compelled fold it through some raspberry sorbet or fop a dof into a champagne flute and top with cheek-puckeringly cold prosecco or similar. Oh yes indeedy! Sublime! Carefully de-stoned fruits, which are under the influence of alcohol or maybe the “affulence of in-co-hol” will bob up and down and bounce in the shiggily bubbles with great temerity.
One of the most sought after gifts from ‘Prunella” are the fruits which cheer a simple semifreddo. It is a delight with any stone fruit or ‘autumn/fall fruit compote’. Not a sacrosanct recipe, add liqueurs, masala, golden syrup or just a loose jam works just as well.
No machine required, quick and simple to bring together and easily adjusted to please our diabetic chums.
1 cup of whipping cream whizzed in a food processor with a little maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of icing sugar, 1 cup store-bought finest quality vanilla custard and 1 cup of double cream, and a tiny flay of salt are whipped together to form the base. Whizz the whipping cream first and add the maple etc to the purring machine.
Stopping yourself from tasting is an issue, be warned. Also: I use tip-top quality, store-bought custard as a commercial product will have a stabilizer included in the mix. Instant milk powder also gives a similar gravitas if you prefer to make your own.
The Damsons, were washed over in a colander with boiling water which sorts any tourist flies or similar. Whilst damp, they now resemble funky quail eggs, just sprinkle with a little sugar to taste and place into a pre heated oven for anywhere between 10-20 minutes to cook and become ‘jammy’.
Stopping yourself from tasting is an issue, be warned. Once cooked leave to cool, I just shove them into the fridge, pan and all.
They are combined vicariously. Layer, daub, swirl, two-tone or combine all. Mix it up to suit your produce, need and mindset. I placed a few fresh borrage flowers in what will become the top and set this version in a little non stick loaf tin. Stopping yourself from tasting is an issue, be warned.
The whipped cream doesn’t need to be disturbed, scratched scraped or fluffed in any way, just wrap in suitable film and abandon it into your freezer for a few hours.
Once ready to serve, and with cling film still in tact, briefly run the base under the hot tap or a drop of hot water in a baking tin to loosen.
The borrage flowers froze well enough but didn’t rock the gig so were floated onto their next life.
In this instance I squeezed the remaining gin soaked juice from the fruit and reduced it slowly in a pan and added some balsamic vinegar to make a sticky sweet sharp drizzle.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is why I hold my chum Prunella in such high regard… because she makes me think. I am fortunate to have her in my world on so many levels and then of course there’s ice cream too !
It only remains for me to thank each and every one of you for the pleasure of your company which is warmly appreciated, and to wish you a lovely autumn as winter drawers (knickers) on here soon!