Saturday, 4 July 2015

Sábha's Simple Summer Elderflower Syrup

Late May until early July is the time of year you'll find Elder trees in bloom. You'll see their cream-coloured, lacy flowers growing wild along roadsides and in fields and hedgerows. Every year my brother Éanna, who lives in the countryside, makes Elderflower Cordial and always kindly gives us a bottle as a gift. It is one of my favourite summer drinks and every year, after I drain the last of the bottle, I promise myself I'll get around to making some of my own so that I can enjoy it for longer. 

Today, I finally got around to trying it. Or rather - Sábha did.
Sábha is a huge fan of elderflower cordial too and after a visit to my brother during the week where we drank copious amounts if his delightful brew, Sábha announced that she would like to make some of her own. So she gathered a handful of low hanging blooms growing in the hedgerow and I asked my brother how we could go about making it. He described the method he uses and when we got home we prepared the flowers, added Sábha's special twist on it and left the lot to steep overnight.

At this point I thought Sábha would probably forget about it and I'd find myself chucking out a mouldy concoction a few days later. Like the 'perfume' she makes me from time to time. So I didn't photograph any of the process. But she didn't forget at all and we now have a delicious bottle and a half of Sábha's Summer Elderflower Syrup to enjoy once we've savoured the last of Éanna's bottle.

She prepared and made it all by herself and only allowed me to help with the one part a five-year-old CANNOT do - transferring the boiling hot liquid to the containers. She is thrilled with herself and I am very proud of her.

Here's her recipe, if you'd like to try it yourself. It's so easy, a five-year-old can make it!

Sábha's Simple Summer Elderflower Syrup

A small bunch of Elderflower heads
1 Litre of water
1 Lemon
1 Lime (Sábha's special addition!)
600g Sugar (Yes, it's A LOT.) (We used caster sugar, but granulated is fine)

Snip any long stalks from the elderflower heads and pop them in a saucepan. Cover with the water. Squeeze the juice from the lemon and lime into the pot. We also scraped out the pith and added it and the skin to the water too. Leave to steep overnight or for up to 48 hours. (we did the latter)

The next day, strain the liquid through a muslin/sieve into a jug. Rinse out the pot and return the liquid to it, adding the sugar and place on a medium heat. Heat and stir the liquid until the sugar is all dissolved and the liquid is just beginning to boil. There may be some froth as you do this. You can remove it if you fancy. We didn't bother and it cleared after a little while.

Return the liquid to a (pyrex) jug and pour into airtight, sterilised bottles. Or a kilner-style jar... if you only have one bottle...

Store in a cool dark place.

We drink ours with ice-cold sparkling water and it's divine!

I also, may or may not have added a 'shot' of it to my G&T this evening and it is certainly going down well.


See below for other recipes I have shared:

To see how I made the chopping board featured, click HERE.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Last Day

Today was Lile and Sábha's last day of preschool. It seems like only yesterday we were celebrating their very first day. We had a little party and smiled and laughed even though I was in floods of tears, for a lot of the day, after watching my babies take their first steps towards independence. That was almost two years ago. 
September 2013
There were more tears today. Mine again, of course, as the reality hit that we would no longer be following the winding path, past the spiral maze, up to the little wooden cabin where they spent their mornings for so long.

And, as with everything there is to do with children, there were mixed emotions. We are all very sad to be leaving the gorgeous, protective bubble of love, respect and nurturing that was the Naíonra but we are excited too, to be moving on to the next stage. Lile and Sábha are more than ready to go to school and I know that the beginning they got with the Naíonra team will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.
Mixed Emotions. June 2015.
I don't think Lile and Sábha fully understand that it's an ending. Or that it's likely we'll rarely see all of the people who are, right now so dear to them, very often again. Some we won't see at all. They've left and come back so many times, you see. The two week breaks at Christmas or Easter are as long as forever to people who have only the most tenuous grasp of how time works. Going back after the two month break of last Summer was almost like beginning again for the first time. I know they'll still be asking me every morning for the next few weeks if it's 'a naíonra day today'... but there are no more naíonra days...
The team who looked after my girls so amazingly everyday gave us a gift of a scrapbook keepsake for each of the girls. It is filled with photographs, artwork, observations and snippets of conversations the girls had during their time with them. The books are big and heavy and must have taken hours and hours to compile. They made one for each of the children who were moving on to 'big school'. Looking at them makes me swoon with nostalgia. Thinking about how much care was put into making them makes my heart get tight. Thinking about how these books are only a snapshot of the huge amount of love and care Tonya, Emma, Ger and Claire have shown my girls makes me weep.

I am so grateful to each and every staff member in the Naíonra but especially to those four.

After naíonra today a few of the parents and children gathered in the park. We gathered to prolong our connection to each other. To stave off the inevitable fracture of a routine we've all held dear. To watch our carefree, little ones play together for just a moment longer before they scatter to the wind, and to different schools and into unknown futures.

Come September, everything will be different. There will be uniforms and school books, new friends to be made and new routines to establish. It will be exciting and daunting in equal measure and ultimately it will be fine. 

But, I know in my heart it'll never match the precious days of preschool.


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