Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Raspberries for Christmas!!

I grew up in Alaska, and would visit my grandparents in Eastern Washington in the summer. My grandparents had this AMAZING garden that just knocked my socks off. As I remember, we grew rhubarb and chives. I think those were about the only edible things that came out of the ground in Valdez... To see the climbing walls of sweet peas, or pick big fat orange carrots out of the ground, or spend the afternoon in the strawberry patches was just heaven. There seems to be a gene in my family - that green thumb gene - that has inexplicably SKIPPED me. My grandparents had it, my mom has it, my brother had it. ME? Thanks to the Portland climate and my husband, things outside don't DIE, but they don't exactly thrive like they did under the guidance of my family members. The smell of that fresh dirt on the carrots will stay with me forever. I'm not sure if it was my mom or my grandfather, but someone always made a great special event out of bringing in this bounty. One such event was carrot people made from the carrots and toothpicks - stubby little guys with nice fat thighs, one was allowing us to choose what we would do with the buckets of raspberries we'd picked. I think my brother made jam. I sat down and ate a bowl of fresh berries with cream and sugar. EVERY time I eat a fresh raspberry that creamy sweet memory floods my senses.

This weekend the Hollywood Farmer's Market had GORGEOUS fresh raspberries, and i couldn't resist. The smell of fresh raspberries is just intoxicating, and I think opening a bottle of raspberry liqueur in the middle of winter to that smell will be wonderful! Making flavored vodkas or liqueurs or cordials takes a good 3 to 4 months, so this is perfect for the taste as well as getting it done before the baby makes his appearance and our lives are turned upside down again. We've made some great infused vodkas and liqueurs over the years, from a great recipe from the middle ages for a spiced liqueur to cranberry orange, to plum, and they are all about the same process: fruit, vodka and sugar or no sugar. I was looking for a good recipe for these berries, and found two versions - one that will sit for three months WITH the sugar, and one that will just infuse the vodka for 3 months and add a simple syrup after 3 months. We'll see which one turns out the best.

raspberry liqueur with sugar - This is from the blog of a lovely woman living the dream life in the English countryside - I can't get enough.

This is an example of adding sugar at the end - this one used lemon zest and glycerin - I didn't.

We also increased the quantities HUGELY. Hopefully we'll have enough for Christmas presents for all - SURPRISE!

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