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Cultural Concubine Blog

Neither here nor there…

Tag Archives: summer


Can’t wait for summer days spent picking wild flowers…

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My concoction…

Some people just can’t help but get their hands dirty. As do I.

Instead of just talking about how lovely Elderflower cordial is again, I actually got stuck in and made one.
I was surprised about how easy it was.

We had cut back a long branch off the Elder, so the initiative for this event was mostly due to the lovely scent of the severed flowers.
Picking the small flowers off the corymbs takes a little work, but eventually it is quite satisfying to find yourself surrounded in the sweet smell and your hands covered in pollen. (so this is not for the pollen averse, drinking the home made brew might have the opposite effect though…)

Pity the flowers are only around end May, early June…

For the recipe:

1. you add equal measures of sugar (preferably raw cane) and water (half a cup each ~120gr.) and boil it up to a thick syrup.

Then pour the hot syrup over the plucked flowers (about 1 ounce of flowers ~28gr.) and leave to steep, over night outside of the fridge, or 3 days in the fridge.
Most people add lemon or citric acid at this point, as a preservative and to add some zzing.

Just pour through a fine sieve or piece of cloth and keep in a nice bottle or jug in the fridge.

One table spoon is enough for a large glass…

I just wanted to try mine pure before diluting the flavour… I found the plain stuff on its own or with a slice of lemon most refreshing.

Whether this is really the most powerful potion the druids wrote about, I am not sure.

But it surely works like a tonic on me.
It is always such a pleasure to have a new experience… learn a new skill.

Now all we need is a sunny day so we can drink the brew in the shade.

Summer and a slice of lemon, do we need anything more?

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I just arrived back in the Netherlands, my parents were so happy to see me that my father parked the car on my foot. (as I was reaching for my suitcase in the back)

Luckily I already have flat feet… So the damage wasn’t too great.


No peas…

Summer is here!

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Summer in a Glass...

After such a radiant weekend, there really is only one British institution I can write about…


I think this British summer institution No. 1, as it contains it all the needed ingredients for a British Summer:
Lemon or Orange
Fresh Mint
and even Cucumber (without the sandwiches)…
And it is based on good ol’ Gin and colonial Quinine, how can all of this not be good for you on a sunny day?

It drinks like lemonade and allows you to play all kinds of games with the remaining fruit in your glass in case you are losing interest in conversation… (another brilliant asset when you find yourself at a garden party…)

This is certainly one of the things I will take with me to the States, where off course it will get heavy competition from the Newportian ‘Dark ‘n Stormy’…Which in itself is a less sophisticated mix of ginger beer and dark rum on ice. Nothing to pick at here…

However yesterday, instead of succumbing to a jug of PIMMS I decided to experiment for myself. I will be having a leaving party soon and I am planning to make a special Punch to tie together both drinking traditions. It took the best part of the afternoon to get the mixture right, but in the end I think I got it.

In the end I came up with this pale golden and blushingly pretty Bellevue Punch:

James and the Giant Peach?

2 parts Soda water
1 part Fiery Ginger Ale or Beer (use the least sweet and alcoholic kind)
1 good slug of Elderflower Cordial
1 great dash of Créme de Pêche de Vigne (you can use peach schnapps but it is usually too harsh and artificial)
Slices of fresh White Peach
Fresh Mint leaves
A big grin
Lots of ice…

This summer is going to be great!

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woop woop...

The weather is too good to blog today.

See you in the park!


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Even in a haze of volcano ashes the season for pic nics has finally arrived.

So yesterday we had the great pleasure of having tea in the garden (yay first time, even if it involved extra blankets)

Apart from vast amounts of tea, the main ingredient of this event was Crumble.

For those who do not know this delicacy: it is the simplest thing on earth and also the most satisfying. What could possibly be better than warm fruit, topped with crispy sweet topping from the oven?

A raspberry experiment...

Originally it was my Irish uncle Frank who taught my brother Olivier the recipe when we were little, but over the 4 years in London I have practiced and perfected. (kids love the messy mixing of the topping, the messier the better!)

The main lesson is that it is the combination of ingredients is where the real skill lies.
If the fruit is more soggy (raspberries) > add more flower to the topping
If the fruit is more dry (old apples) > add more butter.

If the fruitis more acidic (mango) > add more sugar.
etc. etc.

Then there is the quality of the ingredients:
Chunky moscova or demerara sugar and whole grain spelt flower are brilliant in the topping, while older apples or a variety of different kinds usually help the filling. Raspberries amp up the flavour of the pie,  but are more acidic and need apple to balance.

Rhubarb with Lavender honey...

Thirdly there is the addition of something extra.
The bog standard Apple crumble is brilliant already.
But if you want to make crumble really exciting, try using fresh ground cinnamon bark instead of powder. (It is an amazing difference) Cardamom is also a great addition to apples and it also works well with raspberries.
Or experiment with honey:  drizzle lavender honey over rhubarb. Or try Lime blossom honey on apples, yum!

If you are really adventurous you could try my New England version (merging a peach cobbler with crumble) adding lavender flowers to peaches. Truly a brilliant combination.
Vanilla pods and Pears are also great friends. (but make sure not to make it too sweet)

Newton's Pride

There are millions of possibilities, each one better than the next.

I remember really enjoying one of my more successful dinners, where one of the guests had brought his own apples… There we all were after the main course, peeling and assembling our own pudding… Ha. The Apples were an ancient race called ‘Newton’s Pride’ and how proud we were of the result 🙂

Sorry I am getting hungry again…

PS. thanks sooo much Bella for climbing in through the bathroom window when we locked ourselves out yesterday. And thanks Victor for letting us in… Hope you both enjoyed the adventure and the crumble. 🙂

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