Cream together in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 stick butter, softened
When you take on a wedding, you're signing up for a lot of things other than marriage. Really, having a wedding is little more than planning a big party, but with more gravitas. Hopefully not too much gravitas.
That was the idea when John and I decided to get married. A serious expression of our love and commitment to one another, but with a kickin' after-party. Turns out the key to a good party is to splurge on the band and invite people you love. And ideally, there should be some (strawberry) moonshine, but not too much.
There should be an abundance of flowers. Ice cream and tiny wooden spoons are a nice touch. Finally, barbecue...as in, pulled pork (as a North Carolinian, "barbecue" can only mean pulled pork, but I hear that some people believe otherwise). The rest is all flourish and fringe.
I did not expect to enjoy my wedding as much as I did. I've heard so many tales of weddings fraught with anxiety. So many inheritances squandered on caterers and champagne. I wanted something very different, and I planned for that eventuality, but I still expected...well...stress. Isn't that par for the wedding course?
But at 2 p.m. on the day of, as I finished arranging flowers with close friends, I realized that my wedding was three hours away. A few moments later, including one very poignant moment when some of us ran to the woodpile for a moonshine tipple, the whole thing was over. It was the best party I've ever been to.
The thing about parties, though, is that they can be incredibly taxing. Even a relatively stress-free event causes some degree of stress, and after a few nights of little (and late) sleep and heavy meals, the body rebels. Thus our recent inclination towards herbal teas, salad, and fresh air. Oh, and prunes. Lots of prunes.
In a recent chance foraging incident, I came across a wild rosebush the size of a small house. It was tucked in a copse next to the river, and it was so large and thick that there was nothing I could do about it besides gaze and admire its tenacity. Lo and behold, it was covered in tiny, pink rose hips.
Rose hips make me think of doilies and tea time. Dainty linens and clotted cream. Not that I've ever participated in a bonafide tea, but nonetheless that's what comes to mind. There is a recipe for rose hip soup in JOY, but when I say these rose hips were tiny, I mean slightly smaller than the fingernail on my little finger. I had the patience (and the reach--many of them were several feet above my head) to gather only a small amount. Enough, ironically, for tea.
Rose hip tea has a very fleeting aroma. If your rose hips are buxom and possess more flavor, you will undoubtedly have a stronger tea. However, the rose hips I found were very mild and unassuming. A caveat: be sure your rose hips are from unsprayed rose bushes. You can also use dried rose hips (available in the bulk medicinal herb sections of many natural foods groceries), but use less, just as you use less dried herbs than fresh.
To enhance the flavor of my tea, I added a few hibiscus flowers and ginger juice. The best method I've found for juicing fresh ginger without a juicer is to first cut the ginger into coins (this shortens the stringy fibers for easier processing). Then, process it in a food processor or spice grinder. Place the ginger pulp in a clean square of kitchen towel (I use flour sack towels for this), and squeeze out the juice.
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Simmer gently in a small saucepan for about 5 minutes, pressing the rose hips with the back of a wooden spoon to macerate them slightly:
1/3 cup washed wild rose hips (or about 1/4 cup dried)
4 dried hibiscus flowers
2 cups water
Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut into rounds:
2 ounces fresh ginger root
Process in a food processor or spice grinder until it becomes a paste. Remove to a clean square of cloth.
Strain the infused water and briefly return to a boil. Pour into your favorite mug and add ginger juice to taste by pressing the juice through the cloth. Add:
Honey to taste
Lemon juice to taste