It could be that I have a truly horrid memory. But it’s also quite possible that nature is just messing with me.
See, it seems every spring something out there in my garden takes on a life of its own and just grows. In particular, nature really likes messing with my container plantings. I have a habit of just letting them go to ruin in the fall because the architecture of the foliage acts as nature’s artwork when there isn’t much else to look at except the leaves I haven’t yet raked.
A few years ago nature surprised me with some self-seeded pansies and a sunflower in one of those containers. Lookee here! I did not do that. I don’t even think I’m capable of thinking like that.
Here’s nature’s little surprise for me this year.
Okay, nature didn’t stick those pussywillow branches into the decay of last summer’s container plantings. But I’m pretty sure she put the hyacinths there. I think I would have remembered digging down into rock hard soil under dead plants to plant bulbs.
Kathy Jentz at Washington Gardener magazine calls this squirrel-scaping. It’s just as good a name as any for nature’s little jokes. Now that I think about it, I could use more of this type of humor in my life.
I was at a family funeral last week. Yes, a sad day. As my husband and I were getting into our car to join the procession to the cemetery, I grabbed a couple of bottles from the back seat and tucked them into the waiting arms of my little brother—the same little brother who is the sometimes giver and receiver of our birthday and Christmas gag gifts. I can’t decide if my favorite gift to him was the taxidermy frogs in a compromising position or the straight jacket. My favorite from him was the dead horse head in the bed.
Anyway, I digress…
More than a couple of people saw this illicit-looking exchange, but only one man asked me what was in the bottles. Well, what could I say?
It was my homemade Hooch! Nothing to be ashamed of. We were in North Carolina, after all.
My brother is the one who set me on my wine making path. Until now I have mostly stayed with the kits available from places such as Northern Brewer, also the place where I get my wine making equipment. But in January of last year I started a batch of apfelwein. (The recipe and instructions are here.)
It wasn’t difficult at all and only required apple juice, dextrose (corn sugar) and yeast. I mixed it all up and put it into a carboy with an air lock. I stored it in the basement and waited patiently (procrastinated) for a year to bottle. And before bottling I added another two cups of corn sugar so that now it is a wonderful, apple-y, wine-y tasting brew. Surprisingly good!
I’m not sure what’s next. I am emboldened by this apfelwein. That is, I’m emboldened by the success of this apfelwein, although it would also embolden me if I were drinking it right now. It does pack a little punch. I didn’t measure the alcohol content (a process that involves a hydrometer, two measurements of the specific gravity and a mathematical calculation). But it definitely earns the name Hooch.