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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Postal Strikes and Lemon Whisky

Today is the start of basically a week long postal strike in the UK. They go on strike at noon today. Go back to work at noon on Saturday. Go back on strike at midnight on Monday. Come off strike at midnight Wednesday. Yesterday, I had neatly packaged up all my Rita and RNA Romance prize submissions from the books I currently have, but ran out of packing tape. Being overtaken by events, I didn't go out and buy more. They will now have to stay in my study for another week. ARGH!!!! And I am waiting for a cheque...
Postal strikes affect large numbers of businesses and individuals. They can have the consequence of driving them to the wall. There should be a way of making the workers' feelings known without actually harming unrelated people. Whatever happened to neither sleet, nor snow nor dead of night will keep the postman from his appointed round?
People depend on the post.
There has to be another way to solve this dispute and address the various issues in good faith.
To find when postal strikes are on in the UK, the Royal Mail site is the best place to check as it has the most up to date info.

One of the things I have been doing is dealing with damsons and sloes. Basically, this means making sloe and damson gin. A very simple process of washing the 8 0z of sloes or damson, pricking all over with a silver fork, putting in a glass large jar, adding 2-3 tablespoons of sugar and about a pint of gin. Then storing in a cool dark place and shaking every so often. After several months, decant and allow to mature (or alternatively drink). Sloe gin is light pink and tastes of almonds. It is also very sweet.
I also made damson cheese. Another 19th century favourite and it goes well with strong cheese such as stilton. I believe it is called butter in the US. It is a very thick paste, made from puree and sugar. It has to mature several months before accompanying stilton.
Ratafia in the 18th century was the name for a liqueur based on peach or apricot kernels and brandy. By the Regency, it had come to mean any brandy based liqueur. here are two simple recipes that I recently rediscovered that will enable you to recreate the taste.
The first is Lemon Brandy or Whisky. Feel free to use house whisky or brandy in these recipes as the sugar and flavourings do change the taste and it would a shame to waste the really good stuff.
Lemon Brandy was the original secret ingredient in Bakewell tart, and it is absolutely delicious in custards or cakes. It is also quite nice as a cold remedy or after dinner liquor.
Take 2 lemons -- wash and using a vegetable peeler, peel rind thinly. In a bowl, place peel and 1 pint of whisky or brandy, cover and allow to sit for 24 hours. Discard peel. In a saucepan bring 1/2 cup/ 1/4 pint/250ml of waters and 2 0z/1/4 cup/50 g sugar to boil. Boil for about 5 minutes. Then allow syrup to cool. When syrup is cold, add to brandy and re-bottle mixture. This can be used right away.
Orange brandy may be made in a similar fashion. Or you can peel the rind off the oranges, cut into small pieces. Add the peel and 4 oz of sugar to one pint of brandy or whisky. Seal jar and store in a cool place for 1-2 months, shaking periodically. Strain before using.
Enjoy.

3 comments:

Carol said...

Thanks for these, I'm very tempted to have a go.

Biddy said...

NO!! Sloe gin should be purple and syrupy!! Yum yum. Yes we probably leave ours a little too long but it is one of my favourite drinks. A pity there is no way to get sloes in central London.

Michelle Styles said...

It is probably due to the length of time that you have the sloes sitting in the gin. I know damson gin is definitely a deeper purply pink than sloe gin but it could be the way I make it.
And yes in theory, you should wait a year plus to drink your gin, but somehow, in this house it never happens....
Carol --
I have been pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to make such things, as long as you have somewhere cool and dark to store the bottles.