I’m delighted to welcome Daisy Banks back to my blog with her newest release, CHRISTMAS CAROLS. I positively adored this sweet romantic tale set in the Victorian era. A great read at anytime of the year, not just Christmas, I can easily see myself reading this book over again, revisiting characters I fell in love with. You can find my 5-star review for CHRISTMAS CAROLS on Amazon. In the meantime, please welcome Daisy Banks, as she takes her lovely book on tour!
I know readers might think it a little odd to be thinking about Christmas in August but in Victorian England, where my story is set, people were used to starting their Christmas preparations early. Many projects were begun a full year or more before a specific Christmas. I think that’s an idea many of us now find very strange. With twenty-four hour shopping available in many ways the necessity of advance planning is no longer important. Yet part of the joy in an important event is the planning of it and for it.
In the UK we are at the turning point of the year with many seasonal fruits ready for harvesting and here is a recipe for a lovely wine that utilizes berries from the harvest. This is one of my favorites. I hope if you make it you will enjoy it too.
This recipe makes about a gallon.
4lb’s of washed and de-stalked damsons
1 gallon of boiling water
4 fl oz of red grape concentrate
1 teaspoon of yeast nutrient
1 teaspoon of tartaric acid
1 teaspoon of pectin-destroying enzyme
2lb of sugar if you want to make a dry wine, or 3 and a half lb’s of sugar if you want a sweet wine.
Make up your yeast starter mix 2 or 3 days before you begin your wine.
6oz of water
1 dessertspoon of malt extract
1 desert spoon of sugar
A pinch of citric acid
Pinch of yeast nutrient
Use Burgundy wine yeast for this recipe.
Put water, malt extract, sugar and citric acid in a pan. Stir over heat until it boils and then turn off the heat.
Let the liquid cool a little then pour into a sterile clean half pint bottle. Plug the bottle top with cotton wool. Cool until the liquid is 70F or 21 C and then add your yeast. If it’s liquid yeast culture shake before putting it into you half pint bottle. Put the cotton –wool plug back in and leave in a warm place. The yeast will ferment fast and be ready in 2 to 3 days.
When your yeast mix is ready:
Chop damsons, remove stones, and put your fruit into a fermentation bucket. Pour on your boiling water, stir in 1 lb of your sugar, keep the rest back, and allow the mix to cool before you add your other ingredients, and the starter yeast mix. Stir and then cover with a cloth or lid and let the mix ferment for 4 to 5 days. Remember to stir the liquid twice, daily as it ferments.
Strain carefully and don’t squeeze the fruit. Return the liquid to the fermentation bucket.
Over the next 4 or 5 days add the rest of your sugar about a lb at each time. Stir so the added sugar dissolves.
Siphon off into a 1 gallon jar and fit an airlock.
Leave the brew in a reasonably warm place.
At 3 or 4 month intervals you can rack the wine (siphon off sediment) until the wine is clear and ready to drink which can take up to a year.
Once you broach (open) the jar for a jug of wine bottle the rest and seal the bottles so the wine doesn’t go off.
In Christmas Carols Stephen and Alice mainly drink tea but wine is mentioned later in the story.
“Right ho, sir. Enjoy your tea both, and my Rosie will be out with a bowl for Blue in a moment.”
“May I ask if you will pour, Mrs. Broadbrace? I often ask Mrs. Brown or the girl Rosie to do it. I’ve tried myself, but the experience has sometimes resulted in a blister or two on my fingers. Not a good thing when I want to play well.”
“Of course. Blisters, my goodness me. Forgive me for prying, but Mr. Grafton, may I ask who looks after you?”
The soft swish of sound told him she stirred the pot. A few seconds later, he smelled the rich fragrance of the tea as she poured it into a cup. This was followed by the distinct dribble of milk.
“No, thank you.”
“Shall I put the cup and saucer by your hand?”
“Place it by my hand on the table, that’s fine. Now, as to who ‘looks after’ me. I have to say Blue takes much of the work.”
“I didn’t mean to offend, Mr. Grafton.”
“Of course you didn’t, I know. I am no different from many single men, ma’am. I have a woman who comes to clean in the house, a manservant who attends to my clothes and other household details such as the ordering of coal and so forth. Does that answer your question?”
Her cup rattled on the saucer as she put it down. “Thank you, yes it does. I’d wondered who had tied the green bow tie you wore for the recital.”
“Ah, yes. David, my manservant, assists me with such things when necessary. He also attended to Blue’s collar for the evening. A little affectation of mine.” He reached and found the biscuit dish, picked up a biscuit and snapped it in half. “I have learned the audience at the recitals enjoys such things.”
“Yes, of course they do. It makes you seem…”
“What, Mrs. Broadbrace, makes me seem what?” She gave a tiny cough. He wasn’t the only one with little affectations. He reached out, sliding his hand across the lacy tablecloth until it met the coolness of the tips of her fingers. “Do tell me?”
“I think the audience likes the things like Blue’s bow, because, well, because it makes you seem human, Mr. Grafton.”
He leaned back in his chair. “I’m glad to hear it. Please, Mrs. Broadbrace, my given name is Stephen I would be honored if you would use it.”
“Thank you for telling me, and yes, Stephen.” She near whispered the word. “I’ll be happy to call you by name when we are alone as we are now.” She paused and the click of her cup leaving the saucer sounded as she lifted her cup before adding, “My name is Alice. As a friend, I would welcome you using my name.
Stephen Grafton, the blind organist at Holy Trinity Church, is gaining a reputation for his fine playing and compositions. Alice Broadbrace’s initial venture back into society after years in deep mourning brings her to the notice of the talented organist, and he offers her the opportunity to sing a solo carol to his accompaniment. His courage convinces her to find her own, while her charm entices him into thoughts of romance. A difficult walk in a snow storm is only the beginning of Stephen and Alice’s journey to happiness. Enjoy this sweet Victorian tale of talent and love blossoming.
Thanks for reading,
Daisy Banks is the author of:
Soon to be available with Liquid Silver Books Serving the Serpent
Marked for Magic
A Perfect Match
A Gentleman’s Folly
Your Heart My Soul
A Matter of Some Scandal
Daisy Banks writes a regular monthly story in the Sexy to Go compilations