The end of term has sneaked up on me very suddenly. I had not thought about saying good bye to current teachers until it was almost too late. James's teacher was fantastic, she has supported him really well and his self confidence is greatly improved. I didn't warm to Alistair's teacher quite as much, I felt a bit inadequate whenever I spoke to her but I suppose Alistair, too has made progress and has enjoyed the year.
If you have been visiting here for a while, your probably know that I don't like to buy teacher's presents, not because I don't like giving but I don't like to buy generic gifts and it is difficult to find something special for somebody whom you don't really know. I have a few small gifts I like to make and I rotate these in random order. With four kids, chances are high that some teachers will get the same present more than once but I do believe I make something nice or useful or both and I know I would appreciate it myself. My favourites are elderflower cordial, Christmas cookies, jam/jelly, soap or candles. It being June, it has to be the elderflower cordial. I always make some for ourselves anyway and it is no extra effort.
For myself I use the empty pink lemonade bottles you can buy in Waitrose (not empty of course) but for presents I prefer smaller bottles. This year I volunteered Richard to drink a few bottles of beer, a challenge he gracefully accepted. I spent some time looking at the different beers, not because tried to remember his favourites but because I wanted bottles that look nice and have a label that would peel of easily. I opted for Doom Bar beer because the bottles are white glass and the labels were plasticky and seemed easy to peel of off. I tried on a corner. They are also as close as we'll get to Cornwall this summer. I have a gadget to close bottles with crown corks, which comes in handy.
It was bucketing with rain when I went to pick flowers and not even the dog wanted to join me on a walk. I had a lovely walk along the canal, carefully picked the nicest flowerheads, no more than one or two per plant. I was soaked to the bone but happy.
Here is my recipe. There are many different ones and I am sure they all produce an excellent cordial. If you never made cordial, this is as simple as it gets.
Rinse the flowerhead and trim the stems, place them in a pan and pour cold water over the flowers. I would say about one litre of water for 8 to 10 large flowerheads. Put a lid on and let the flowers sit for about 24 to 48 hours. My trusted Swiss home economics recipe book suggests to leave this on a sunny windowsill but the sun does not always shine and it is ok to just leave it on the work top. After 24 to 48 hours strain the infusion through a muslin and measure the the amount you have. Weigh out sugar and citric acid. For each litre I use 750 g to 1 kg of sugar, it depends how sweet you like it and how long you want to keep it. I use 20 grams of citric acid per litre of infusion. I don't use lemons but feel free to add lemon juice if you like (maybe reduce the citric acid if you do). Slowly dissolve the sugar on a low heat, then bring the syrup to the boil. Turn the heat off and add the citric acid. Stay back, it foams up quite violently for a few seconds. Lastly, give the cordial a good stir fill it into clean preferably sterile bottles. It keeps for a long time. We just finished the the last bottle of the 2015 cordial and it still tasted the same. It is a little darker maybe but the taste was excellent.
I made two bottles for us and I was going to add some to a glass of Prosecco. I never quite got around it but there will be other opportunities.
I won't have time to make more and when I get back from my holidays, the elder blossom will be finished. I am going to check out recipes for rhubarb cordial instead, CJ showed photos of the most beautifully rhubarb red cordial ever on her blog and I can't stop thinking of making my own. There is still lots of rhubarb in the garden and I am going to freeze some for when I come back.
I'll be on a plane to Switzerland when you are reading this. I'll be sure to give you an update from our holidays when I have a moment. Wishing you a lovely week. x