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Simplify, I keep telling her. Especially when she lays around the house all day like a sick dog. The leaves aren’t the right color, she argues. It shouldn’t be this way. You don’t get to say that, I tell her. You don’t ever get to say that. There’s no such thing as how things should be. There is only are. So, simplify. We make a list together and both believe that list is where serenity lives. The list isn’t a list. It’s a place. She imagines that place as she falls asleep in the early morning hours, the birds chirping in looming blue dawn.

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She dreams of her feet on the floor. Shower steam, kettle whistle, wet hair, whirring grounds, French press. Cup, her favorite ceramic cup. Duvet billows onto smooth sheets. Morning white. Car keys, yoga mat. Breathe. The fantasy goes on. The birds chirp. Her bones are getting heavier, and maybe she’ll sleep in spite of the conspiracies of sparrows. It could be real. Pots and pans and shutter clicks. Steam, hot baking sheets, and boiling things. Vitamins. Computer cords and filing, her glowing screen. A long lunch, reading, salad greens and salty cheese. Egg and pickled things. On the porch. The clean porch. Upholstery & living flowers. Afternoon gold. Clattering keyboard. Pot of tea. Load of laundry. Dinnering. Dish soap and prattling. Toothpaste, clean sheets peeled back, reading light or movie time. Necking. Sleeping. No dust. No clutter. Everything is always clean. Repeat.

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It’s my life. It was my life. It slipped away for a few weeks this past month. The laundry got wet and it just never would dry. Three weeks of wet laundry & too many water glasses amassing, forming a militia at the head of the bed. I felt like it would never end. But it always does. It, that dull gray sludge, always ends and animation returns. Successfully treated bipolar (which is ultimately no different than having asthma or a bum knee) is not without it’s dips and unbecoming whorls. It’s hard not to blame yourself when you can’t quite sleep, can’t quite get going. But I have found that if I do what I can & never say nasty things to myself, it just passes. It’s weather. Summer storms.

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I’m awake and alive again now, and maybe I enjoy it more than someone who doesn’t have occasional bouts of what my grandmother called “the blues”. Before I fell into a sort of waking slumber, I picked an awful lot of honeysuckle. I made batch after batch of syrup, storing up for the months when the buds would turn brown & fall. This post is a little unfair. I should have given it to you sooner, but there’s always next year full of flowers. So tuck this recipe away. The same principles can be applied to any fragrant flower. Just make sure it’s food safe. Lilac, elderflower, honeysuckle, jasmin.

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So right before I fell asleep for a few weeks all I thought about was different ways to eat this flower, to taste it. It was a childhood dream come true. To bottle up that smell. So what can you do with the cordial? I’ve thought about this. A lot. So here’s what I’ve come up with. I’m like Bubba from Forrest Gump going on about shrimp. But honeysuckle.

• Honeysuckle Soda: Mix with sparkling water to taste. Viola!
• Honeysuckle Cocktails: I hear it’s particularly good mixed with champagne
• Honeysuckle Sorbet
• Honeysuckle Vinaigrette. Recipe below.
• Honeysuckle biscuits/scones, recipe below. Baked good in general. Substitute some of the liquid in a baking recipe with the cordial as I have in these biscuits. Or scones. Depending on from where you hail. Adjust sugar in a recipe accordingly.
• Honeysuckle Marshmallows. 1 cup of cordial = 1 cup of water & 1 cup of sugar.
• Honeysuckle Ice cream. Instead of steeping your blossoms in water, steep them in milk & cream.
• Honeysuckle Tea. Pour some cordial in your tea!
• Honeysuckle Sugar. Make honeysuckle sugar by stuffing your blossoms into some sugar as in this lilac sugar.
• Honeysuckle Buttercream. Add a few tablespoons to a basic buttercream. Fill macarons with it. Be a total girl.
Honeysuckle Jelly.
• Honeysuckle Butter. Mix it with butter, y’all!
• Whatever else you can dream up! Crème brûlée? French toast? Who knows!

Lastly, before the goods, a few bits & bobs I’ve been up to from around the internets:

- A Pinterest oriented interview I did over at Design Conundrum.
- Quite honored to have my photo taken as part of the beautiful inside & out Rebekka Seale’s portrait series
- Food52 provisions. I picked out some stuff I like. This shop is going to be dope.
- A Rhubarb & Grand Marnier tart in a sea salt & rose shortbread crust I did for Design Love Fest.
- Aaand you can find me all month giving wedding food tips & ideas over at Lonny!
- Also, if you don’t know already. I was on Masterchef! Was. Ha! I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it later. I have crazy eyes in the photo. Because I was feeling crazy then. Pay no mind.
- This post over at Gardenista gives you tips on how to recreate the look of this dinner party!
- Lastly very excited to tell you that a column over at Food52 is in the works…coming soon!

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Honeysuckle Cordial

yields 3 cups

So here’s the basic building block recipe, it’s basically a honeysuckle simple syrup with the addition of citric acid & lemon. The citric acid acts as a preservative and also cuts the sweetness with a pleasant tart taste. The flavor of the finished product when mixed with sparkling water is very reminiscent of elderflower pressé if you’re familiar with it. Except honeysuckle flavored, naturally!

Ingredients

4 cups honeysuckle blossoms, picked over & rinsed
3 cups water
3 cups sugar
1 tsp citric acid (I found this in the supplement section at Wholefoods)
1/2 a lemon, zested & sliced thin

Cooking Directions

Bring water & sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve all the sugar. Pour hot syrup over the flowers in a heatproof container. Stir in the citric acid, lemon zest, and the thin slices of lemon. Let steep, covered, on the counter until it reaches room temperature then place it in the fridge and let it steep over night, totaling 24 hours. Strain through cheese cloth or a very fine mesh sieve. Store in the fridge.

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Honeysuckle Scones a.k.a. Honeysuckle Biscuits

yields about 12 2-3″ biscuits
 

Ingredients

250 grams (2 cups..get a scale!) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
76 g (1/3 cups) buttermilk
152 g (2/3 cup) honeysuckle cordial
1 egg, lightly beaten Or a couple Tbs butter melted, for brushing (optional)
sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Cooking Directions

Heat oven to 425°.
Grease a baking sheet.
Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Cut in butter with your fingers until no pieces larger than a pea remain but there are still plenty of bits of butter. You don’t want to overwork it.
Stir in the buttermilk & cordial until just incorporated, careful not to overmix as this will build gluten and make your biscuits tough. At this point you can let your dough proof for up to 30 minutes or just proceed with the rest of the recipe.
Turn biscuit dough out onto a well floured work surface. I, for one, like to just use my counter. Sprinkle a bit of flour on the top and form dough into a rectangle with the narrow end facing you. Lightly bounce the dough out from the center with a rolling pin. Fold in half towards you. Rotate the dough counter clockwise and repeat 2 more times.
After the third fold roll dough out (gently, you don’t want to crush your flaky layers) to about 1″-3/4″ thick. Cut with a floured biscuit cutter. Don’t twist the cutter or you’ll seal the edges and inhibit rising. Gently place biscuits on the greased baking sheet. Brush tops with a lightly beat egg or melted butter if desired. Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake biscuits 10-15 minutes. They should be golden on top and cooked through. It takes about 12 minutes in my oven.
Let cool on racks. Eat warm. Preferably with this sea salt, honey, and marjoram peach butter.
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Sea Salt & Honey Peach Butter

yields 1/2 cup

Ingredients

 

1/2 a very ripe peach, finely chopped
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tsp honey (to taste)
1/2 tsp finely chopped marjoram
1/4 tsp flaky sea salt (or to taste)

Cooking Directions

Mix all ingredients with a mortar & pestle. Taste & adjust as needed. Chill & Serve. Can also be made by a whir in a mini food processor or a blender. Or by whipping together with a fork in a bowl. I just love to use my mortar & pestle! So tactile.
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Honeysuckle Mint Vinaigrette

yields about 1/2 cup
An extra extra recipe because I love you guys. And honeysuckle.

Ingredients

 

2 Tbsp honeysuckle syrup
1 Tbsp champagne vinegar
3 T good olive oil
pinch salt
1 T chopped apple mint (regular is fine too)
1 T chopped fennel fronds
1/4 tsp crushed fennel seeds

Cooking Directions

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until combined or alternately shake in a jar. Excellent on a “flower power” salad of edible flowers, apple, fennel, and cabbage along with a bit of celery seed & salty cheese.
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59 Responses to honeysuckle cordial: honeysuckle biscuits with sea salt peach butter + honeysuckle mint vinaigrette

  1. Sarah says:

    Oh my goodness…this post is so beautiful! Your honest words that painted such a clear picture of the “blues” and your photos which took my breath away. You are an amazing photographer and I can hardly wait to make these recipes, especially the vinaigrette.
    We had several honeysuckle bushes in our backyard when I was younger and will always remember how lovely our house smelled when the windows were open and the breeze drifted in.

    xo Sarah

  2. Look at you! So many good things in that last list. Hip Hip!
    And, as always, beautiful words + photographs. xo

  3. oh honey suckles, i remember having them as a kid all the time – we had a ton in our backyard in atlanta. as always beautiful beautiful photos!

  4. Those biscuits just look incredible. I love your story telling!

  5. Rebecca says:

    absolutely stunning photos and words! the honey suckle scones look so delicious!
    Rebecca @ tr[i]b[e]cca

  6. Christa says:

    Beth,

    When spring happened here we were enveloped in honeysuckle scent, having woods on all sides of us in a kind of valley of sweetness. We could have gotten jars and jars of honeysuckle jelly. I ended up with four. So good. Your pictures here perfectly capture the climax of spring that is honeysuckle season and I can’t wait to try some of the recipes – especially the biscuits. Thank you. :)

  7. Suzonne says:

    I can’t wait to try this next year! I’ve been obsessed with leaves with summer – fig leaf ice cream, fig leaf liqueur, peach leaf ice cream…this is right up my alley. Thank you for sharing!

  8. The photos are so beautiful!! I need honeysuckles in my life. Just so pretty :)

  9. Sarah says:

    You have a real way with story telling, both in pictures and in words. I think there are some people in life who use their eye for beauty and detail to capture the raw reality of their days. You, I think, are one of them. Gorgeous.

  10. Kezia says:

    I didn’t even know honeysuckle was edible! We had some in the garden of our old house, right outside my bedroom window, and it smelt amazing! I’m so glad you are back and feeling better now. x

  11. the beauty in your eloquent heart shaped words makes me want to drag our countries, towns, selves a little closer. you possess the eyes and heart of a poet.

    although im partial to vary shades of blue, im glad you are back in the light of a technicolour world ;)

  12. Congratulations on a really beautiful post – inspirational! :)

  13. london bakes says:

    We had a honeysuckle in the garden of the house where I grew up. That heady scent is just summer to me.

  14. Amy says:

    Really lovely post. Your photos are breathtaking! Do you read the blog hyperbole and a half? If you haven’t read her latest post about her recent bout with the blues, you should take a few minutes to check it out.

  15. Just a teeny bit excited to hear more about this column over on Food52!! Well done you for all of your recent successes, both big and small xx

  16. I’m in love with your words and photos! Congrats on all the stuff at the end……

  17. That sea salt peach butter sounds insanely awesome! LOVE!

  18. There’s a honeysuckle plant outside our back door that I keep chopping back as it’s basically trying to take over our house… Now I know what to do with the trimmings! For some reason I never thought you could use it in cooking – can’t wait to try this Beth, thank you.

  19. Rona Roberts says:

    You are a wonder and a delight.

  20. Beautiful, inspiring and congrats on all those lovely features! Now I know what to do with my honeysuckle!

  21. Anna Seay says:

    Absolutely amazing…takes me back to southern Alabama and sneaking into the backyard to lick a flower! :) I’m sharing this with the world!

    ~Anna http://bananagrovedesigns.blogspot.com/

  22. Firstly, I wanted to say thank you for being so open about struggling. From what I have gleaned through reading your posts over the last six or so months, we share something very similar about our pasts and something very similar about our presents. Reading your words allows me to peer into another and see that – oh! there, it can be done. It’s right there. She has it. She loses it sometimes, but finds it again. I can find it too. It’s ok. It’s going to be ok. Just stop thrashing, and float. You’ve merely swallowed salt water without discovering its buoyancy.
    Also (and forgive me if this IS actually something you normally do and I just haven’t been a reader long enough to know), but I loved your ‘bits and bobs’ part. You’re an inspiration, so being able to see what inspires you (apart from all your beautiful pins) is a real treat.
    More Kirby!!

  23. kankana says:

    I have always loved your work Beth. Both writing and the stunning photos. You totally rocked in Master Chef, TOTALLY. You have such a beautiful personality and you are just so pretty.

  24. Lou Archell says:

    I have followed you from a far, mainly your inspiring Pinterst feed but to come here and read this beautiful post – thank you I am in Love with your blog and words. These recipes are sublime, I need to find a honeysuckle, I think they are still flowering here in the UK. x

  25. Not only are all of these photos stunning but the recipes look unbelievable!I am intrigued by the honeysuckle recipes since it is blooming around every corner in Brooklyn.

  26. These are absolutely beautiful. I love the photos. The recipes look yummy, too!

  27. Jillian says:

    beautiful photos Beth! We’ve been catching up on Master Chef this week, you’re adorable!!

  28. Sarah Dee says:

    I was in a self proclaimed blue mood for about three weeks that I snapped out of sharply last Saturday. Our moods are a strange thing to dissect but this one left me so enveloped in a strange shroud of sad anxiety that I find it comforting to see it laid out so perfectly in words in front of my eyes. Today I’m welcoming us both back into the brightness of the world with some rhubarb jam.

    x dotti dee

  29. Finding a little sunshine helps me – lunch in the park or a window seat at a restaurant and I’m good to go. I laughed out loud at your “get a scale” instructions. Usually people suggest, or advise, or hope, and I think, if you are really into to food for god’s sake get a scale, but you said it. Yeah!

  30. Andrea says:

    I concur…I think my non sludge days are less poetic though…

    {My low place was shown when I thought “Belladonna” Cordial…Perhaps Uncordial would be more apt…}

    Breathtaking photos…
    xo

  31. So glad to have found your blog, love it! Love your words, your images, your recipes.

  32. e / dig in says:

    last week i breathed in the perfume of your honeysuckle pictures; this week, i came back and read your beautiful words. brave, beautiful, free words. and the poetry in thoe words and the beauty of the photos will have me coming back for more. thank you.

  33. wow! Who needs to eat when the eyes have already had such a feast?

  34. rebekka says:

    Oh, Beth…you are just…. :)

  35. Chris says:

    I’ve never had honeysuckles before… but that Sea Salt and Honey Peach Butter looks amazing! Must try!

  36. Your words are like a soothing balm…..I found myself transported to different place. Your photography made that journey even more pleasurable!

  37. Claire says:

    A beautiful post, and a beautifully adaptable (to any flower) recipe.
    Do you think using agave or honey in place of granulated sugar would still make for a good cordial?

    • Absolutely! Feel free to experiment endlessly with the sweetener. Honey is going to have a very dominate flavor which might overshadow the honeysuckle more than just sugar. I’d be curious how agave would fare as it has a less aggressive flavor (so it might allow the honeysuckle to shine more than honey would)

  38. Blanca says:

    Somuch love for this post and you as a whole!

  39. Kelly says:

    WOW. You take such beautiful photos! This reminds me of when I was little, when my family had honeysuckle in our backyard.
    Thank you so much for the recipes — I can’t wait to try this out on my next free weekend. Your blog is very admirable — happily followed!

  40. Beth, one of my very favorite posts. Your words truly struck a chord. thank you. Honeysuckle…I can’t think of another plant that better sums up my childhood. Hmm, maybe blackberries, but it’s close. I’m definitely coming up with a cocktail that uses this cordial. I hope that’s okay. Thank you for all your inspiration.

  41. demetria says:

    Ahh I love the honeysuckle!!!!!!!!! It really does inspire childhood memories and it makes me miss living in the south so much! I’ve never thought to use it as an ingredient – what a sweet idea.

  42. index says:

    We absolutely love your blog and find a lot of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for.
    can you offer guest writers to write content for yourself?
    I wouldn’t mind publishing a post or elaborating on a number of the subjects you write related to here. Again, awesome web site!

  43. Nicole says:

    I get the same “blues.” And you have no idea, I just bought a honeysuckle-scented cleaner and I want to live in the bottle, it smells so good. I’ve been raving about it, I didn’t know I could eat it!

  44. Megan says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m always very pleased when I find blog post about bipolar disorder, and this one happens to be the most beautiful. So thank you. (and this happens to be the best font in the planet).

  45. Amazing post, Beth. Your photos are breathtaking and your words here are beautiful and moving. Nice work :)

  46. […] Similar to the elderflower cordial I did a couple of months ago but inspired by this amazing blog, it is so easy and made me so happy. There are some things that are so simple but so beautiful and […]

  47. Sherry says:

    Love your honesty . . . you are not alone . . .

  48. Sarah says:

    I came from Pinterest for the honeysuckle, the scent and taste of which has always been such a balm to me. But suddenly I felt I was reading about myself – and felt almost a little vulnerable with it. It’s this sensibility though that allows the lightness and delicacy of the nectar to lift us so. Thank you for saying it. Now I’ve heard your voice I will listen out xx

    Ps meadow chamomile too, it tastes like warmth from the sun

  49. I’m a little late but wanted to tell you what a beautiful post I thought it was anyway. After reading this, I have no choice. I must make honeysuckle cordial as soon as the honeysuckle shows it’s face!

    It’s been a long, dark winter here too – if I didn’t have all these animals to keep fed, I’d have slipped away for a little while too.

  50. Ramya says:

    I just love this biscuits. I want to try them asap.

  51. Ramya says:

    I just love this biscuits. I want to try them asap.Awesome recipe and presentation

  52. […] syrups or placed in puddings. There’s still some recipes to be found featuring honeysuckle, here’s a page containing recipes for honeysuckle cordial, scones and vinaigrette!   Apparently some people wrap honeysuckle around young straight branches in order to eventually make […]

  53. An absolutely gorgeous post—thank you for sharing your journey and beautiful recipes.

  54. […] Syrup (adapted from these recipes from Honey and Jam, Canning Granny, and Local Milk) makes 1 […]

  55. Bakerman says:

    I first want to reconfirm many readers’ opinions on the beauty and prosaic nature of your blog. To speak to the recipes however I am curious if you can advise. I tried unsuccessfully to brew the honeysuckle cordial from your recipe, as it came out very bitter. The cold brewed recipe posted by Crooks Corner for their honeysuckle sorbet was much sweeter and intense in it’s fresh flavor. Also when I tried baking with the cordial I found that the heat caused all of the flavor and aroma to burn out of the baked goods. I was using pretty standard white honeysuckle so I wonder if you can advise on why perhaps this isn’t working for me?

    • beth says:

      Hmm. I’ve never had it turn out bitter, not even a little bitter. You only used the buds, correct? Had the blossoms you were using been sprayed with anything? Was all the pith off your lemon? That can impart a very bitter flavor. Unfortunately, I can’t speak to why it turned out like that. I find baking with the cordial usually gives the goods a very light hint of it, and honestly, a year later from this post, I think there are only certain goods I would use them. I’d probably, if I wanted a strong honeysuckle flavor, end up infusing the butter itself instead. I’ve had great success with butter infusion allowing the flavor of infusions to hold up in baked goods. Lastly, this cordial isn’t meant to drink solo but rather to be mixed with sparkling water or wine, cocktails, or used in other recipes. Maybe the citric acid was putting you off? You could try using less or just using lemon juice entirely. I’m sorry it didn’t work out! In the end, water + sugar + a bit of citric acid boiling poured over buds and allowed to sit to room temp and then stuck in the fridge over night has always resulted in a beautiful cordial.

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