Monday, November 9, 2009
Marilla's Raspberry Cordial
Dear friends, I had a stroke of inspiration today. It was a beautiful day outside, much warmer than it has been lately, and I was thinking about lemonade, and how in days not even 100 years ago, lemonade on a warm day is about as refreshing and enjoyable as things could get. And I wanted some. But I didn't want just lemons, I wanted lemons and berries (I love berries), and that reminded me of a recipe that I read recently. So, in honor of the beautiful weather, I give you Marilla's Raspberry Cordial, from L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables.
Anne of Green Gables is the story of Anne Shirley, who is a very lively 11-year old girl who has an imagination as big as the sky, and who can never be perfectly happy because "nobody could who had red hair" (which is her lifelong sorrow), but she tries her best, and sees the world as a place full of wonder and exciting things, even though she knows that she will likely never have any of these things because she is an orphan, and she speaks in very long, run-on sentences that make one understand exactly the kind of energy that she has because you end up breathless just reading them.
In the first two chapters of the book, we find out that Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, a brother and sister of both around 60 years old, have sent away to adopt an orphan to help around the house - but they wanted a boy, and got Anne instead. They decide to keep her anyway, and Anne gets into scrapes and small adventures around the town and with her "bosom friend" Diana. In one memorable scene, Anne has gotten permission to serve Marilla's Raspberry Cordial to Diana before tea time, and serves her currant wine by mistake. Diana goes home, drunk, and giggles all the way, ultimately getting Anne banned from Diana's house, much to Anne's dismay.
In the Anne of Green Gables Cookbook by Kate MacDonald (granddaughter of author Lucy Maud Montgomery), the recipe for raspberry cordial is, as in the story, non-alcoholic, though in popular vernacular a cordial is an alcoholic beverage - so, look out when you go out to a restaurant and order one.
This recipe falls into the category of Deceptive. In theory, it is quite simple. It doesn't even look that impressive once it's done (though it is delicious). In practice, it was one of the messiest, most frustrating things I've made in a long time. But if you have an afternoon on your hands, it may be worth a try.
Marilla's Raspberry Cordial
1 lb., 3 oz. frozen raspberries
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 cups boiling water (or more, to taste)
1. In a saucepan or small pot, cook the raspberries and sugar over medium-low heat until all the sugar is dissolved, about 20 to 25 minutes.
2. Mash the mixture and pour it through a strainer, discarding the pulp (the pulp, once you get all the flavor out of it, will be a sickly mauve color).
3. Add the strained juice of two lemons. Stir in the water, and allow the drink to come to room temperature.
4. Chill, serve, and enjoy.
I did my best. I strained and stirred and discarded pulp... perhaps it's the way I did it, but it took a really long time, and I still ended up with seeds in the drink because I'm fairly clumsy. Maybe 10 seeds instead of the 500 that would have been in there, but still. And berry juice all over my favorite too-big-and-baggy sweatshirt. And a seed stuck to my forehead. Sigh.
It's funny, come to think of it. I started this project thinking it would be the most wonderful thing in the world, and it was a lot more work than I'd bargained for. Does this remind anyone else of some of Anne's escapades? And in the end, it's very tasty - there's no way to get that taste without actual raspberries - a beautiful color, and smells like raspberry heaven. I'm not sure if I'd make it again, but there is a definite possibility.