Saturday, July 7, 2007

Samstag, Fahrrad-Parks und Zitronen, die im Wodka schwimmen!

What a beautiful Saturday we're having here in the central west coast of Flahridah. This morning was so beautiful that we got up, threw on some shorts and biked our way over to Flatwoods Park which sits right out our back door. The 18 mile ride we took goes through some very lovely Florida scenery – one would never guess that a major city is only 30 minutes away.

We came back and, after having showered all the sweat off the bod, went out and drained the pool of the 3-4 inches of rain that we’ve been blessed with over the past week and commenced to sweep it. The water is a refreshing 82 degrees – the Gulf of Mexico, which is always a few degrees ahead of us inlanders, is a sultry 86 F – and felt wonderful when I was finally able to climb in and float for a half hour or so listening to Beethoven’s 4th Piano Konzert. What’s not to like?

Wednesday, the 4th of July, I watched Everyday Italian on the Food Network. Giada De Laurentiis, the hostess, offered up something of which I hadn’t heard until just then: Limoncello. It’s an Italian rustic beverage that one can buy at stores but most homes make their own. (Anytime I hear that kind of “bait & Lure” line my radar goes into overdrive . . . happened with soapmaking, happened with brewing beer and mead, happened with knitting socks, happened with canning . . . and I just have to know how to do it.) That afternoon found me at the store buying lemons & vodka and, later, fully armed with these essential ingredients, there I was at the sink with a vegetable peeler ripping off great swaths of deliciously oily lemon zest from 10 lemons that must have been as anxious as was I for them to be plunged into a sea of crisp vodka for a week of steeping.

The original Italian recipe calls for 44 days of steeping in the vodka but, honestly! Who could be expected to stare at a pitcher of 750 mls. of lemon yellow vodka on the sink that long? It isn’t right, is it? [Giada insists that her resolution of 4 days is plenty but I’m leaving mine for 7.]

When that time is up, one boils 2 ½ cups of sugar in 3 ½ cups of water until the sugar has dissolved and you have a pristine simple syrup. Let that cool then pour it over the vodka and lemon peel and let sit overnight. Strain through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Then, transfer the liquor to perfectly elegant bottles. Seal them up and chill. Here’s the full recipe:


Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

1 (750-ml) bottle vodka (I used nearly 1.5 Liters . . . but, then, I would, wouldn’t I?)

10 lemons
3 1/2 cups water

2 1/2 cups sugar

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons in long strips (reserve the lemons for another use). Using a small sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith. Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap. Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 4 days at room temperature.

Stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Transfer the limoncello to bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 month.

I don’t know why this brew wouldn’t keep indefinitely if it was properly sealed in sterilized bottles. Sugar is a preservative as is alcohol and the lemons are acidic. What mischief could this lemon essence possibly get into?

The Log Cabin Bathmat is nearly done -

I was going to make it a golden rectangle but as I stepped out of the shower this morning I realized that the space is square and, it turns out, the rug is now exactly the right size for the area so all I have to do is bind off. I'm using the *K2, pso, return to left needle, repeat from *. I think I got that BO from La Stasia on her sock page but I'm not certain. Anyway, it's a stretchy bind-off and makes a nice finished edge.

I would definitely recommend the pattern to anyone . . . well, unless you have limited mobility and/or reduced strength in the hands and arms. I think the pattern would be equally fine using two strands of the cotton rather than three - it just wouldn't be quite as thirsty as the original.

I'm also giving some consideration to using this technique to make bath towels. We both loved the bathsheets that are provided at Bad Ragaz, CH They are HUGE. They keep them in large warming closets and, after you get out of the pools, an attendant wraps you up in one of these sheets and you go to the solarium to recline and muse for about an hour or so on the efficient civility of the Swiss!
We got some bathsheets via the Net but they run about 50-75 clams per sheet. I think I can knit them up cheaper than that.


Denise in Kent, WA said...

Limoncello - delicious! John bought some after seeing it on one of the food (or maybe travel) channels. Good luck with your home made! I did not realize it was that easy to do. How tempting...

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