Part of my impatience has to do with the normalcy that I crave. Ordinarily, as soon as the weather warms I find myself interested in searching out new and different things to preserve and then beyond excited to take their pictures and write about them. My new normalcy is the feeling that I can't really plan anything, go anywhere too far away, and certainly not to wait around on ripening produce. It's frustrating for me because I'm not a good idler, I prefer my old spirit of juggernauting forward, that always propelling forward motion that feels so good, especially in the summertime.
When I woke up early on July 4th (every day, I wake up at exactly 5:22, don't ask me why...), I found a message from a localish orchard; the currants I'd been looking forward to experimenting with for the past 2 years were finally ready, and the farmers had two ice cream pails already picked and waiting for me if I was still interested, and hadn't had my baby yet. For a brief moment, I felt my old self return. I hopped out of bed and immediately searched my sources to see about how many currants I'd need to do the few things I had in mind.
I'm not used to depending on others to do what I'd like, especially when it comes to climbing behind the wheel of the car and taking off on a whim. In our family, I'm the usually always the driver, in part because I just love the road (and in part because I'm a terrible passenger). But this close to a delivery date, I'm not driving much - and not very far. I was actually surprised that my Husband offered to drive us down to the little farm where the currants were, even more surprised that he tried different varieties of currants and gooseberries, and was interested in the workings and stories that the husband and wife team running Klee's Out on a Limb Acres had to offer. It was a perfect afternoon, and even though the journey wasn't actually so far away, it was was just rural enough to satisfy the summertime longings for the country that always plague me - and it was even better that my boys were both appearing to be enjoying every minute as much as I was.
I have had currants on the brain for two years. It's been more than that long since I first had a tipple made by friends Paul and Lori of the Burp! blog, and I was really smitten. Their liqueur had been aged for quite some time by the time I tried it, and it was earthy, complex, and just plain lovely. As I'd never even seen currants growing, and never picked or tasted one, I longed to find a source so that I could anticipate tiny cupfuls of that delicious liqueur of my own making - and experiment with other things as I usually do when I get too excited over a new best friend and overbuy considerably.
I had just enough Mount Gay rum left in the bottle (given to me so I could make flourless chocolate rum cakes for a friend's birthday in January) to do a batch of Pam Corbin's Currant Shrub. I was under the impression that shrubs were usually non-alcoholic, sweetened vinegar bases that were mixed with seltzer. But, in her book The River Cottage Preserves Handbook, she details this one made with red currant juice and rum (or brandy). Also taking several months to mature, I figured another thing to try around Christmastime would be welcome.
- 1 1/4 c. red currant juice
- 2 1/2 c. rum (or brandy)
- finely grated zest of one orange
- 1 t. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar