Figuring out where to grow things on our farm continues to be a both joyous – when you get it right – and frustrating journey. When we first started planting, it really was with reckless abandon. I figured, it’s a farm that gets a thousand hours of sunshine daily; I’ll be able to grow anything. Ah…not so much. True, I get lots of sun but the rain comes either as a trickle or a flood leaving my gardens dying of thirst or drowning. Having too much water on a sloped property causes some of the pastures to never dry out. This is one of the reasons Ralph wanted to create the pond. Now that we’ve harnessed the water, things are drying out but I’m still dealing with soil issues.
Rather than examining the soil and determining where would be the best growing site, I planted our fruit trees and shrubs where they looked esthetically pleasing. Unfortunately, the only appealing esthetics are in my imagination. The fruit plantings, that I did five years ago, have essentially done little more than grasp for life. The pear and cherry trees are scrawny and have never produced so much as a bite of fruit.
Two years ago, I moved a Montmorency cherry tree and blackcurrent shrub to one of the perrenniel beds. The proof is in the pudding or in this case in the booze! I picked three cups of currants off the happy little shrub and am in the process of making HOMEMADE CASSIS. I know how hard that shrub fought to live, let alone actually produce fruit. I wanted to honour all that hard work with something precious. In one month, we’ll be sipping a lovely glass of Blackcurrant and Peppercorn Liqueur.
Or better yet, make your own and we’ll have a toast!
BLACKCURRANT AND PEPPERCORN LIQUEUR – HOMEMADE CASSIS
3 cups fresh blackcurrants, rinsed, drained and stalks removed
375 ml vodka
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- Place the blackcurrants in the bowl of your food processor and pulse several times.
- Scrape the currants into a large mason jar and mix well with the remaining ingredients.
- Cover with a tight fitting lid.
- Allow to steep for a month in a sunny spot in your kitchen.
- After one month, line a sieve with several layers of cheesecloth, then squeeze out as much juice as you can, and bottle.
THE LOVE: If you don’t have a black current bush, look for these little beauties at your local farmer’s markets. If you can’t find fresh currents, you can substitute frozen.
one year ago: raspberry streusel cake
two years ago: pasta with pea and prosciutto cream sauce
three years ago: cipollini agrodolce
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