In this week's So Many Fairies story, “The Old Lilac Tree”, a lilac tree has been the center of a lush garden for a very long time. The lilac tree elf who tends the tree is very proud; she prefers a particular order and form to all things within the garden walls and she makes sure every other elf and fairy in the garden knows exactly how she likes it. When the garden comes under the care of a dreamy young man, the lilac tree elf must find ways to teach him her garden rules. Will her fairy ways convince him to listen?
I don't know if this is common or not, but—several years before I moved here—someone in charge of public plantings filled many of our city spaces with lilacs. Every year as they blossom I say a little prayer of thanks to that brilliant soul. I imagine that he was a hopeless romantic, much like the young man in this story. And as the scent of of some of those lilacs floats in through my window, it's hard for me to imagine denying a lilac fairy anything she might want.
If you are likewise blessed to be surrounded by spring lilacs, this week's recipe is just the thing to toast to their heady blossoms.
“Orangina” is a bottled drink that originated in France. While the exact formulation now varies by the country you're buying it in, it's essentially orange juice diluted with fizzy water to make it extra refreshing. In this homemade version, though, I've added something even more special—a generous dash of lilac simple syrup.
This lilac syrup imparts more of a smell than a taste, but that smell compliments fresh squeezed orange juice beautifully. When you are choosing lilac blossoms for the syrup, as always, be sure to collect flowers that you are sure are unsprayed.
The syrup recipe makes about 16-ounces, but it will keep indefinitely in the fridge, so don't be hesitant to make a full batch. In addition to kid-friendly Oranginas, if you swap out some (or all) of the seltzer water for sparkling wine, grown-ups can enjoy lilac mimosas, as well!
(makes 1 drink)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice 1 tablespoon lilac syrup (recipe follows) ice seltzer water
Add the orange juice and lilac syrup to an 8-ounce glass. Add 4 or 5 cubes of ice, then fill the rest of the glass with seltzer water.
Stir gently, garnish with fresh lilac blossoms, and enjoy!
2 cups lilac blossoms (stems and green parts removed)
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
Mix the ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Bring the water to boil, stirring gently so that the sugar dissolves, then let the lilacs simmer for about 5 more minutes. Allow the syrup to cool completely, then pour it through a fine mesh sieve to strain out the lilac blossoms. Discard the blossoms, and bottle or jar the syrup. Kept in the refrigerator, it will keep you in lilac scented drinks well into summer.
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.
When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.