This week we’ve been …
1 Smelling the sweet peas. They don’t last long once they’re cut and brought into the house (because I forget to top up the water) but they smell fabulous and look pretty for a day or two.
2 Swearing about the inaccuracy of the weather forecast. Where did that thunderstorm come from last night? At four this morning I awoke to thunder, lightning, heavy rain and a very grumpy farmer muttering and swearing about his oilseed rape unharvested in the field.
3 Cutting back some of the plants in the garden to discover that the guinea fowl has been laying eggs under the foliage. Luckily, these three sank to the bottom of the bowl of water so must be reasonably fresh..
4 Making the most of leisurely meals before harvest starts. Baking little flatbreads to scoop up bean stew or eat with salads of roasted vegetables and little balls of cheese. The cheese is inspired by Elizabeth’s labneh made from a carton of Greek yoghurt, drained for a couple of days in a sieve lined with a J-cloth (muslin or cheesecloth would be so much more romantic sounding and probably more practical) and then shaped and rolled in herbs or petals and stored for a few days in rapeseed oil.
5 Picking strawberries and raspberries for Slamseys Gin. There’s more to pick this afternoon and it’s going to be hot, hot, hot so waiting in the fridge this evening will be a jug of Peach & Rose Summer Cup, which is based on the Fruit Cups from the mid nineteenth century that mixed spirits, wines, fruit, herbs and aromatics. I imagine them being served at summery garden parties where elegant ladies in smart hats sit in the shade of large trees before a backdrop of fabulous flowers but I’m sure the reality was very different.
To make a jug of Rose & Peach Summer Cup:
50 g granulated sugar
50 ml boiling water
Rose petals or basil leaves
Three or four peaches
60 ml Slamseys Rose Gin
1 bottle white wine
Put the sugar and boiling water into a small bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bruise the rose petals or basil leaves gently and add to the hot liquid, leaving them to infuse for a few minutes.
Now, take your peaches and slice them into a jug (or large Mason jar if you really must). Two or three peaches should be enough; I’ve been using four or five of the little flat peaches because they taste so good at the moment.
Strain the syrup into the jug (discarding the limp leaves or petals) and add the Slamseys Rose Gin and bottle of white wine. Give it a good stir, cover and refrigerate for at least three hours. The longer you leave it, the more the flavour of the peaches will infuse into the liquid, so leave it for twenty four hours if it’s more convenient.
To serve, drop some ice into glasses and half fill with your Rose & Peach Cup. Top up with soda water and garnish with freshly sliced peach and rose petals or basil leaves. Or drink it neat if you prefer.