I remember sitting alone at the kitchen table, I was seven or eight years old. It was dark outside, I was watching the reflection of the TV in the sliding glass door. The dishes were done, kitchen cleaned, light turned out. In front of me was the only plate not in the dishwasher. On this plate the remains of enchiladas, cold and congealed stared up at me. I was not allowed to leave the table until I finished. I hated enchiladas! They were too spicy, my mom used too many onions, I just didn’t like them. Oh, how times change! Of course I chop my onions finer and I try to make them a little milder for the kids, but I still use the same recipe my mom always did. This is my favorite enchilada sauce recipe. It was originally from a hippy cookbook my aunt had. My mom got the recipe in the early eighties and made it her own. By the time I was old enough to help in the kitchen I loved these enchiladas. We use the red sauce for turkey and the green sauce for fish. Oh great, now I also have a craving for halibut enchiladas. Break out the Vitamix, it’s sauce time!
A few weeks ago my husband went hunting. He didn’t get any meat this time, but he didn’t come home empty handed. He brought me elderberries. I had just bought some elderberry syrup and dried elderberry powder for more than I want him to know. Imagine my delight at having pounds of fresh elderberries in my kitchen. The first thing I made was syrup. It isn’t fancy or all that tasty really, but it is super good for you. I used the recipe from Mountain Rose except that I used fresh ginger. The first time I made it I used elderberry powder and it was fine, but using fresh elderberries was just better. It looked better, smelled better, tasted better. It wasn’t drastically different, just a little better. The next project was elderberry liqueurs. My husband got a recipe from the internet, but I used a recipe from a fabulous seventies era cookbook called Homemade Liqueurs by Donna and Mel Meilach. You might recognize Donna’s name from her other books like A Modern Approach to Basketry or Macrame: Creative Design in Knotting. I love reading vintage cookbooks and while I might not make a Pistachio-mint Pudding Parfait (included in the book), liqueur recipes don’t really change much over time. In a few months my husband and I will have a taste test. I’m pretty sure I’ll win. Maybe. He already strained his berries and added sugar, I’m leaving my elderberries to steep for a couple of months. Or until I find the jars again.
The last thing my husband requested was elderberry jelly. I make strawberry freezer jam every year, but I have never made jelly or processed jelly. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I cooked the berries to get the juice out, then I poured the berries into a piece of cheese cloth that I had folded several times. I tied the cloth up with twine and hung it from my cabinet pulls over a bowl and left it over night. Then I followed the directions on the Sure Jell site. I had to add a cup of grape and cranberry juice to make sure I had enough, but I couldn’t taste it in the final jelly. It really tastes good. I have found I am craving toast, biscuits, rolls, really anything I can put jelly on. (Is that a dangling participle?)
My husband has promised me that next year he will bring home baskets of elderberries. I’m already dreaming of elderberry gift baskets!
- 1 cup fresh or 1/2 cup dried or ¼ cup powdered organic Elder berries
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup raw local honey
- 1 organic Cinnamon stick, 3 organic Cloves, and ¼ inch piece of organic Ginger root (optional)
Place berries, water, and spices in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Smash the berries to release remaining juice and strain the mixture. Allow liquid to cool and stir in honey. Will last for 2-3 months stored in the fridge.
I’m a bit behind on my menu. Last night we had grilled cheese sandwiches.