Hurtling towards the end of term, the girls and I are certainly in need of a rest. The last few days of endless shouting up the stairs for Poppy and Primrose to get a move on and I’m more than a bit frazzled before the clock has ticked towards 8 o’clock. That and I’ve been working like a demon, tip tapping away on the keyboard at the kitchen table. The summer holidays are stretching out before us and we can’t wait a single second longer, dear Reader! Wonder if I’ll still be saying that in a week’s time when the girls have reduced themselves to dealing with squabbles by bashing each other over the head with Lego knights. Anyhoo, dear Reader, for now it’s time to switch off from work, read a few books that have been gathering dust on the bookshelf and sip a few long gin and tonics in the sunshine.
In need of a serious caffeine fix to keep the matchsticks propping up the eyelids on the last school run of the year, I stopped for a much needed coffee and a little bit of local therapy of a rosy kind. Heady scents all around were enough to have me feeling rather more zen and on the way to looking less Russell Brand and more coiffured Margot. What could have performed that minor miracle I hear you ask, dear Reader? A gorgeous new range of Rose products from Long Barn whose lavender (as well as beautiful garden and homewares mecca and café) is already a huge Hampshire hit. Candles, heavenly body butter, soap and a handbag sized tin of sumptuous lip balm…….thank you Long Barn for such a wonderful treat. Now please bring out a bath oil too and then I shall spend all my evenings in the bath imagining I am in THAT scene from American Beauty!
Returning home with two bedraggled school girls to our garden which resembles more of a World War II war scene than rosy cottage garden at the moment, I had to do everything to stop the girls from pinching all my new found Long Barn luxuries. About the only thing that has survived the landscaping is a gorgeous dog rose which has decided to shower us with blooms – a true thing of beauty amongst a great deal of untidiness. Thank goodness as it has been 3 weeks of garden upheaval and we’ve needed something to look at that isn’t brown mud and serious amounts of chalk!
Always one to try something different as you know dear Reader, I decided to give a new recipe a whirl to celebrate all that is wonderful about the rose. I’d say that this little number is perfect to savour once blooms have started to wilt ever so slightly on the stem. From antidepressant, digestive stimulant, cleanser to Margot’s scented saviour, the rose really does have the magical medicinal touch.
1 litre scented rose petals, rinsed and dried to remove any unwanted insect life (10-12 large blooms)
1 litre water
juice of 1 ½ lemons
700g caster sugar
Rinse the rose petals, rinse and dry them before measuring them in a measuring jug. Pop the petals in a pan and add the water. Bring to a simmer, pressing the petals into the water gently. Cook for no more than 5-10 minutes before removing from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes or so. Using a sieve, strain the liquid from the petals. Make sure you stand the sieve over a bowl to do this as you’ll need to gently press the petals down to strain out any of the remaining liquid. None of the liquid is wasted here!
Place the liquid into a clean pan and pop on the stove. Add the juice of a lemon and then all of the sugar, stirring with a wooden spoon until all the sugar has dissolved. Allow the liquid to come up to the boil and boil for a few minutes before pouring into sterile bottles. You can sterilise the bottles by washing them thoroughly in hot soapy water and then placing them in a low oven to dry. Do store the cordial in the fridge once you’ve bottled it. The more red petals you have in the mixture, the darker the colour of the cordial.
It won’t last long I promise. It makes a great syrup to drizzle on a fruit salad, add it to ice cream, mix it with fizzy water or use it as a base for a fruit or elderflower punch…….best of all though, pour a thimbleful into a champagne glass and top up with delicious fizz, be it champagne, Prosecco or lovely Hampshire bubbles for a lovely rose flavoured cocktail. See, dear Reader, I told you it was restorative!