Violet Cardamom Soda
If you think that foragers are just a bunch of hippies tripping through the forest, let me set you straight. A forager's world is full of mysteries, classified information, and confidences. It's a realm of fervor and appetition, where treasures are real, and foragers guard their caches much like chefs do their secret recipes.
Take for example, the fact that I have a secret tipster, an inside source of intelligence and scoops. It started last year, when he'd stealthily slip me messages - ditch plums are ripening at the corner of 39th and Vine... primo apples two turns up the canyon, but you'll need your picker... watch for the asparagus along the fence line north of the Gates Farm. He turned out to be a regular and reliable source of information. When spring once again rolled into these parts, he fork-fed me a hot tip, I know where you can get violets. Violets! This time, we met in person, under the blanket of the night sky. Using only the glow of starlight and our night-vision glasses, it hardly took more than an hour of crawling around on hands and knees to fill a large container with spicy purple flowers.
OK, you got me. That last bit wasn't true, but the rest is. Thanks for the violets, Mr. S!
For more mostly true tales of foraging, please read Stalking Boletus Edulis, or How Mushrooms Caused Me to Engage in All Seven Deadly Sins. Enjoy a glass of sodie pop while you are reading.
Violet Cardamom Soda
1 c. sugar
1 c. water
3-4 c. loosely packed violets
1 green cardamom pod, crushed
a few cranks of freshly ground black pepper
1. In a large pan, combine the sugar and water by stirring with a wooden spoon. Bring the mixture to a boil, and let it roll for one minute.
2. Turn off the heat, and fold in the tiny purple flowers, black pepper, and cardamom. Cover, and let stand for a day.
3. Bring the mixture back to a boil for one minute.
4. Carefully strain out the solids, and reserve them for a future recipe (coming next week).
5. Also with care (for Pete's sake, don't burn yourself!), pour the remaining lavender-hued syrup into a sterilized pint jar, and let it cool to room temperature before refrigerating.
6. To make violet cardamom soda, combine 2 Tbsp. of violet cardamom syrup (or more, if it suits you) with 16 oz. of icy cold sparkling water.