With an undulating and extraordinary landscape that surrounds us, green folds that have barely changed since Romans tramped across them whilst heading south. (Chants “you’re not bringing that xxx chariot through my garden.”) We retain calm until the schools break up and the mass of trippers schlep down the M4-M5 for their jolly hollies. At the time of writing we were enveloped in a vast silence broken only by birdsong and the anthems of thousands of bees.
The tea boy admonished for wishing to remove a raised bed that contains nothing but lavender which bounces rhythmically beneath their weight, as they go about their business, in the company of clouds of butterflies. Bees apparently do a little waggle dance when they are happy ( don’t we all?) and much waggling takes place once ‘their’ lavender blooms. They carry on with their age-old tradition of making honey whilst the ballerina butterflies remain delicate pollinators and strictly ornamental.
Behind us are pasture and meadows of wild flora and fauna and we listen to the faint humming of the bees and love to see them in fluffy rugby shirts, with their cutesy eyebrows and legs weighted with pollen trousers. Until recently I was unaware that they isolate each honey cell per flower, poppy, clover, rose etc.
Blue coloured borage being a new flavour honey to my palate was a recent gift from a visiting friend, usually borage is found beside cucumber and ice in a glass summer Pimms for me. The bees are happy to travel miles to their hive. Like me they enjoy the warmth of the sun and aren’t keen on the wind and rain. Good weather equals good honey since they have to gather most of their food store in 10-12 weeks of the year. Bees are one of the most studied creatures on the planet and I for one can see why.
That was then, but now, low, early morning, autumn mists lie across the same, now damp, meadows and whilst a whisper of warmth is left by the sun I self balm and placate denial that summer is over and appreciate that the little bees kindly harness its bounty for us to nick.
A vague attempt at mist hung low on the very same fields earlier today and it seems summer is loosing its footing to Autumn. A stunningly visual month but I must admit feeling a little bereft in the short-term. Has to be an ice cream moment?
A swift option could use my default base of no cook vanilla ice cream thought in this instance use sumptuous local honey (instead of sugar) of which I have a selection considered treasured booty. This little darling is however enough to make a girl blush in its simplicity.
Using equal measure of cold whipping and equally chilled single cream, add roughly one-third the same volume of the combined creams. Techies look away in stark horror now… 800 ml can handle 250-300 ml of honey depending personal taste and how much is left in the jar after much tasting on your quest to determine if you can indeed taste the difference? Do include a decent pinch of salt to add balance.
Techie trauma 2: Whip the creams to a pre butter frenzy, add a substantial glug of finest quality vanilla essence/paste or seeds and swirl the honey through and don’t be overly fussed about completely blending it through. Carefully slither the honied cream into a prepared terrine or just gently lob it into a suitable lidded container and maybe muster an inner gloat?
If thats still all too much of a phaph, drizzling runny honey through some softened good quality vanilla is a good cheek puckering, cheats option, another is adding the honey and sprinkle of lavender sugar to equal parts of store-bought custard and whipped vanilla cream, then just freeze this in a suitable lidded container. For a terrific ice cream should you not happen to have an ice cream machine about your person?
Freeze over night and spoon this into pretty glasses and serve with some lavender shortbread biscuits. Please note: a whisper of lavender is lovely, too much and you’re in Granny’s underwear territory and no one needs to go there excepting Grandma!
Option shown for a bit of showing off:- Rasp a digestive biscuit on a microplane or fine grater to make a quick crumb. Drizzle honey and a mere dribble of bourbon, whisky or whiskey, add the ice cream, dress with a teeny-weeny flay of smoked sea salt mixed with some of the remaining crumb, dress with pieces of honeycomb or a vanilla pod shard and, in this instance, some borage flowers since these are likely the last for this year and I had been gifted this particular honey.