Michael and I like to experiment when we cook, bake bread or make pickles. Sometimes our creative endeavours are successful. Friends rave over our exotic herbs and vegetables, crocheted blankets, jewelry and home tied flies for fishing. My son cut down a huge black walnut tree, a friend brought over a portable saw mill and cut it into rough boards which my husband planed and sanded and used to build a gorgeous counter top. Making stuff at home and not buying the factory generated version is less expensive and usually tastes, looks or functions better.
Of course, every project was not always successful and some were total disasters. For example my soap making project filled the entire house with a horrible stench as I rendered the lard. The odour permeated our clothes, skin and hair, drapes, furniture... Thank God it wasn't freezing outside because we had to air or wash everything. Looking back, I have decided that our pioneers must have done this stage of soap making outside over a fire.
One of our better ideas was to make wine the old-fashioned way. We had returned home with a five gallon pail full of choke cherries. We were not quite sure what to do with them because jelly takes so much white sugar. Then inspiration hit. We would make wine.
We refrained from squashing the choke cherries with our feet but we did put them in a clean, white pillow case which we tied to a broomstick and squeezed to extract all the juice. We filled a huge plastic container with this juice to ferment. The first bottles of wine were okay but we saved a few to let them age and each time we uncorked a bottle, the better the wine became.
Then one evening, nineteen years later, the phone rang. Michael answered."Michael, is that you?", his grandmother yelled.
"Hi, Nan.", Michael answered, a little puzzled. This was his devout, church going, grandmother. The one who constantly interceded for her wayward grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even great-great-grandchildren.
"I just want to thank-you for giving me that bottle of homemade choke cherry wine", Nan slurred slightly, "It's been hiding in the back of my pantry for almost twenty years and I have to tell you, it is the best wine I have ever tasted!"
Michael thanked his grandmother then turned to me and explained what had happened. "I don't think Nan is going to leave us any", my husband guessed.
Michael was right. Nan drank the whole bottle; we didn't taste a drop and at 98-years old she still raves about how good it was.