Friday, April 22, 2005

Sunshine in a Bottle

Some of you Dear Readers know that I enjoy making my own liqueurs and libations, and some of you may even be thrilled to know that with the return of spring comes the return of that humble flower that has made its way into my heart and into my decanters.

May I offer you a glass of Chateau Dent de Lion?

I am probably the only person on the block who gets excited over a backyard full of bright yellow dandelions. Think of the possibilities! I could add greens to a salad or mashed potatoes, I could fry up some dandelion "fritters," or I could make dandelion wine.

And I think you know which one I'll go with.

The lovely Phoenix came by last evening to help me harvest a bumper crop of blooms. We decided to fill only two quart jars with blossoms as the hour was getting late, the sun was sliding low in the sky, and my back was not happy with sitting on the cool, damp ground. But two quarts is two quarts more than I picked last year, so I'm not complaining.

Once back inside, we gradually added to the jars plenty of sugar, boiling water, orange and lemon juices, and yeast. Tonight I will strain the blossoms out and then let the liquid sit another couple of days before straining again, and then it sits for a few months to finish fermenting.

When I first made this, I wasn't at all sure what to expect. I mean, it did smell a little funny at the time. But the resulting liquid was like a delicately fruity and light champagne... a little fizzy, with a hint of citrus and a refreshing sweetness that revived the joy of springtime in my mouth and in my heart. And that pale golden color brought back memories of sunny spring mornings.

We get a multitude of memories tied up with food... scents and tastes can take us back years to well-loved places and people. So when I taste this year's dandelion wine, I will think of a quiet sun-washed evening, the taste of fresh violets, a very good friend, and the skirl of the pipes playing "Scotland the Brave."

And that warm liquid sunshine will make me so very happy.

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