Did any other parents out there decide that maternity leave was going to be the perfect time to learn new skills? As if the whole motherhood experience of 24-hour caring for a baby wasn’t enough? I did. Baking, growing my own veg, knitting, perhaps I’d make some clothes, or at least start with a pair of curtains, certainly learn a language…hmm just a matter of choosing which one. The list goes on.
New in the knowledge of impending motherhood, I went to the local craft superstore to buy my knitting needles, ‘How-to’ guide and wool. As I write, they are still sitting on the shelf behind me where I popped them that very day, about two years ago.
Needlework, for both clothes and curtains. Nah, not happening either.
Language learning. I did manage a few weeks home tutoring from a learn yourself French CD set last summer before going to deepest, darkest France for a wedding and a holiday. Found it a little difficult to keep the momentum going once we’d got home though.
Baking, growing my own veg, and of course homebrew. Much more successful. Yes, it hasn’t escaped my notice either that the things i’ve achieved are all to do with food and drink. I have mastered quite a few recipes, and last year managed to grow some herbs, 14 tomatoes, 6 strawberries, 22 peas and 3 courgettes that were more the size of gherkins. I even got creative with the courgette flowers in a bid not to waste anything I’d managed to grow. I have a very understanding OH, who suffers silently as these gems are served up each night, masquerading as a proper meal. It’s about quality not quantity…
Admittedly, it will be a while before I’m self-sufficient, but the joy I felt at each one of those miniscule vegetables was almost the same as listening to my little one say a new word. They’re all growing again this year and I’m hopeful of breaking my record for produce, though it might still be a while before I have enough to start making jams and chutneys.
And that leaves the elderflower tree at the back of the garden. Hmm, what can I make with that? After some googling, I’d decided that the best idea was Elderflower Champagne, and the recipe was by Mr Hugh Fearnley-Whittenstall. It was the only one I could find that used all natural simple ingredients (others use citric acid). I used these bottles and they arrived quickly and worked a treat.
Last year was my first go at this and what the recipe doesn’t mention is that it is SUPPOSED to grow a layer of mould on top. Thankfully, I discovered this before throwing it away. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of enjoying something you’ve made yourself – especially when it works.
Our only mishap, was only filling the last bottle by about a third, as we’d run out and couldn’t fit anymore into the other bottles. Somebody more scientific will know that the rest of the bottle fills up with gas, so when we opened it, the top flew off and hit the ceiling, narrowly missing damaging us and the kitchen. So heed this as a cautionary tale and fill those bottles right up!