For as long as I can remember, I have had an uneasy relationship with routine. I thrive on serendipity. On my days off I prefer having no plans. What a joy it is to head out with a only a bag of essentials and no destination in mind. The walk may bring treasures from a used bookstore, yard sale, or old hardware store. I rarely shop with meals in mind, I just pick up the best looking produce for the price. Even though I prefer a full pantry, I enjoy the challenge of making a delicious meal with little to no food in the house.
This month I started working full time for the first time in years. I also started yoga and strength training again. In order to fit in all the things that I want and need to do, I had to set up some routines. There are meals to enjoy together, early morning breakfasts to be prepped, gardens to be tended, and kitchen floors to mop. The only way to fit it all in is with routines in place, however informal and in flux they may be.
I have discovered that if I have routines and schedules in place, I have more time to improvise and observe the seasons. If the pantry is stocked, and there is a pot of beans bubbling away, then dinners are easy. Just add seasonal, abundant bits and enjoy.
We are now entering that abundant time of year. The garden is filled with herbs, lettuce, and arugula. Carrots and fava beans are almost ready. Tomatoes are in bloom.
A few weeks ago, when there was less abundance, we were foraging for lilacs and conifer tips. The spruce tips on our backyard tree have come and gone. There are still a few lingering conifer tips around town. This year we harvested a lot of tips. We made snaps/schnapps, spruce tip infused vinegar, spruce tip syrup, and apple spruce tip juice. What amazing juice! Since the tips are only around for a few weeks, I decided to preserve some of the juice by making a shrub, or drinking vinegar. And now it is all gone! Next year I will make more.
Wishing you all an abundant summer!
APPLE SPRUCE TIP JUICE
Any semi-tart, juicy apples are good here, but I love the rosy pink sweet/tart juice from pink lady apples.
To make 1½ - 2 cups juice (depending on the apples and juicer):
5 - 6 pink lady apples
½ - 1 cup fresh spruce or Douglas fir tips
Optional additions: 1 fresh fennel bulb, a couple of carrots, a beet
Juice the tips with the fruit. Garnish with a tip, if desired.
APPLE SPRUCE TIP SHRUB
Serve the shrub with sparkling water or vodka. Try it in an ice cream float, by adding a scoop of yogurt gelato or vanilla ice cream to shrub and soda.
1½ - 2 cups apple spruce tip juice (see above)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar (I recommend Eden)
2 - 3 Tablespoons simple syrup (I used spruce tip syrup)
Add all the ingredients to a clean glass bottle or jar. Adjust for tartness and sweetness, if necessary. Let the ingredients sit overnight in the refrigerator to infuse. Filter the shrub through a fine mesh strainer to remove foam, if desired. If refrigerated, the shrub should keep for a month.