This is a bi-weekly series here at Adventures in Borkdom. It chronicles experiences I have that are directly inspired by the books I read.
Today’s Inspired Adventure comes from my reading of the well-loved classic Anne of Green Gables, a young adult novel, written in 1908, by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Here is Goodreads’ synopsis of the book:
As soon as Anne Shirley arrived at the snug, white farmhouse called Green Gables, she knew she wanted to stay forever… but would the Cuthberts send her back to the orphanage? Anne knows she’s not what they expected — a skinny girl with decidedly red hair and a temper to match. If only she could convince them to let her stay, she’d try very hard not to keep rushing headlong into scrapes or blurt out the very first thing she had to say. Anne was not like anybody else, everyone at Green Gables agreed; she was special — a girl with an enormous imagination. This orphan girl dreamed of the day when she could call herself Anne of Green Gables.
This was a re-read for me, and I am so very familiar with the plot and characters of the story, that reading it again was like coming home. I was first introduced to Anne via my childhood obsession with the mini-series, directed masterfully by Kevin Sullivan. I watched this, the subsequent mini-series Anne of Avonlea, and then the TV series Avonlea (as titled on Disney Channel) anytime they aired. In college, I was thrilled when my Dad bought me the VHS copies of all three (unfortunately, they’re warped now due to too much use). However, it wasn’t until I started teaching that I decided to actually read the books. I don’t know why I never thought of it before, because these are, of course, even better than Sullivan’s adaptations.
Throughout all of my viewings and readings, one scene always stuck out to me–Diana getting drunk. Oh what a fiasco that “little girls playing tea time” ended up being. Instead of giving you a synopsis, I’ll just show you Sullivan’s rendering of the scene, which he pretty much nailed on the head:
Tragically, Anne was banished from Diana’s life for a good chunk of the year after this mishap. It was an honest mistake, yet Diana’s mother truly believed that Anne was a terrible little girl who intentionally intoxicated her daughter. I’ve always wondered how easy this mistake was to make. When I was a kid, I always knew the difference between a Coke and a rum and Coke…anyone who saw my face after I mistakenly took a sip from my mom’s glass would know it by the wrinkling of my nose. How did Diana not know? And what’s raspberry cordial anyway?
“Diana Is Invited to Tea with Tragic Results”
There’s a bottle half full of raspberry cordial that was left over from the church social the other night. It’s on the second shelf of the sitting room closet and you and Diana can have it if you like.
– Marilla Cuthbert, page 147
So, I decided to try my hand at making some raspberry cordial, and, if possible, getting my hands on some currant wine to make a comparison between the two red beverages.
First, the cordial. I did a quick google search on raspberry cordial, and second on the search list was a recipe for “Anne of Green Gables Raspberry Cordial Recipe” from food.com. The recipe comes from the Anne of Green Gables Cookbook by Kate McDonald, so this must be the best and most accurate recipe to be found.
2 (300 g) packages of frozen raspberries
1 1/4 cups of sugar
6 cups of boiling water
It required only four ingredients which were readily available at my local grocery store. To be a bit more Marilla-like, I chose to buy only one package of frozen raspberries, and then two packages of fresh raspberries, since they’re in season and all. I bought these on Sunday, and unfortunately by Tuesday, when I planned on brewing, one package of raspberries had gone moldy. A very Anne-predicament, if I do say so myself. Of course, Anne wouldn’t have noticed until the last minute when they were already in the pot, would be too scared to tell Marilla, and then once some fancy visitor like the minister’s wife or her teacher Miss Stacy is invited for tea, and goes to take a sip, Anne would exclaim “Stop! Don’t drink it! It’s full of mold!”
I am a bit quicker on my feet than Anne, I guess, because I just supplanted a package of blueberries that I already had in the fridge. So, I was making Partially-Blueberry Raspberry Cordial now.
1. Put the unthawed raspberries into a saucepan and add sugar.
2. Cook on medium, stirring occasionally until all the sugar has dissolved.
3. Using a potato masher, mash the raspberries and syrup thoroughly.
4. Pour the mixture through a strainer, extract all the juice.
5. Squeeze two of the lemons and strain the juice, add it to the raspberry juice.
6. Add the boiling water to the raspberry juice.
7. Allow the cordial to cool, then chill it in the refrigerator.
So, I started the cooking of the berries and sugar, and by the time I got to Step 3, I realized that I wished this recipe was more informative. It could use some time guidelines. I mashed up the berries to the best of my abilities, but how long did it need to cook? Oh well, I just went ahead to Step 4, assuming that once all the berries were smashed, it was long enough. Steps 1-3 took about 10 minutes.
Step 4 is the worst of all possible recipe steps! I hate squeezing juices through a strainer! So tedious. The thing is that it’s a lot of work–constantly stirring the fruit around the wire mesh of the strainer, all the while trying to press the juice through. This process easily took 15 minutes, if not longer. Also, it’s very messy. I forgot that I was wearing a nice work shirt, and ended up getting little drops of raspberry juice splattered on the front. Those probably won’t come out, will they?
Now, it was easy breezy. I squeezed the lemon juice in and poured the 6 cups of boiling water. Voila! Now it was all about cooling. I waited about 20 minutes longer for the cordial to get cool enough to pour into containers. Once it was cool, I had a new dilemma: what to store the cordial in? I didn’t want the red stuff to stain any of my plastic containers, so I decided upon two glass milk bottles that I had left over from a few “fancy milk” buys at Whole Foods.
Once poured and sealed, I placed the bottles in the fridge for 24 hours to cool.
Raspberry Cordial vs Currant Wine: What’s the Difference?
Anne, you certainly have a genius for getting into trouble. You went and gave Diana currant wine instead of raspberry cordial. Didn’t you know the difference yourself?
-Marilla Cuthbert, 154
So, the next task was finding currant wine. That was not an easy google search. I sought it out the day before, and all I found were really expensive bottles being sold at wineries far away. I was going to have to pass on the taste test. That’s when, as Marilla would say, Providence stepped in.
When I put the bottles of raspberry cordial in the fridge to cool, I noticed the bottle of red wine I had bought and drank from last Friday. I bought it because it was supposed to be a really good variety of mead, recommended by an employee at a local wine seller (not a liquor store–this place sold only fancy-pants stuff), and I only drink mead when I watch Lord of the Rings movies, which I was doing last Friday. Anyways, I examined the label, and lo and behold! It was currant wine!
Doesn’t that just beat all?! So, I was prepared for the comparison test.
Twenty-four hours later, I pulled out the cordial and the wine. I poured them into matching glasses, and analyzed the traits of the two. Here were my findings:
Smell: A very strong, delicious raspberry scent.
Color: A nice red raspberry color.
Taste: So good! Sweet and luxurious, I feel as if I’m spoiling myself. It definitely tastes just like raspberries!
Smell: Acidic and definitely alcoholic. No hints of raspberry at all.
Color: Deep purple, almost black.
Taste: Ugh! How did Diana fall for this? It’s dry and full of tannins, and would only taste better if I mixed it with the raspberry cordial!
In my opinion, Diana must’ve
A. been lying when she said she had drank Mrs. Lynde’s raspberry cordial before. Unless, Mrs. Lynde was slipping her a mixed drink.
B. never tasted alcohol before (this seems likely in Avonlea, especially with Mrs. Barry as a mother).
C. possibly never really tasted raspberries before either, because currant wine doesn’t taste ANYTHING like raspberries! Meanwhile, raspberry cordial tastes as if you’re drinking up a whole bush of the berries.
Raspberry cordial is delicious, and this recipe was relatively easy. If anyone likes sweet juices, or would like to make a really good mixer (I’m thinking the cordial would go good with vodka), I recommend making your own cordial as well. It only cost the price of the raspberries, which wasn’t much, and it made a whole lot. And, if you haven’t read Anne of Green Gables, get it on it! It’s an amazing book!
Next Week’s Inspired Adventure: Inspired by the great battle scenes of The Return of the King, I will go check out some local LARPing (Live Action Role Playing). Prepare your foam swords!