13 December 2009

Take the weather with you.

I'm all out of cute ideas, happy giving to strangers, finding serendipitous little things along the way. Today was a miserable day, in fact, it was a miserable weekend, complete with an irate "discussion" over the washing machine. Great.

The thing that I hate about Ohio when the temperature is cold is the grey, overcast skies, and the accompanying icy rain, which we had in spades. If it is going to be cold, it might as well snow, right? Freezing rain is the most miserable weather condition on earth, I'm convinced.

So after all that gnälling and grousing, where's today's mitzvah?

Much earlier this year, I got the idea in my head to make Limoncello. This Italian liqueur is intensely lemony, and until recently, it wasn't easy to find commercially made. If you were to raid the freezers of Italian bubbas along the Amalfi coast of Italy, though, you'd find lots of it.

I found recipes for it all over the interwebs, and took the best of all of them to make my own. Problem #1 was that most recipes call for 190 proof grain alcohol, which is not legal in Ohio. But it is legal in other states, and I knew that I'd find it somewhere. I found Everclear in Florida, and broke several federal laws by sending it home to Ohio. (Ooops.)

Limoncello takes a very long time to make. Months. It takes lots of lemons, and lots of liquor. Two bottles of Everclear. Two bottles of vodka. 40 lemons. A simple syrup made of sugar and water.

I zested the lemons back in July, and the lemon zest sat in the Everclear until just a few weeks ago. It looked like heavy, dark urine when I pulled it out of the dark, cool closet where it was hanging out since July. I was worried, because that certainly wasn't what it looked like in all the pictures I'd seen online. The pictures (Wiki has one) look like a neon yellow, something that wouldn't have been out of place on any 80s fashion plate.

So it was with a little bit of trepidation that I started straining out the lemon peels from the Everclear/vodka/lemon zest mixture. Once that was done, I added the cooled simple syrup, and as I stirred that in, the color changed from an unappetizing pee yellow to something that looks like there's a neon light inside of it. Pretty freaking cool.

For about the past 2 weeks, the limoncello has been sitting on my kitchen countertop, waiting for bottling. Inspiration hasn't struck yet for a bottling solution, although not for lack of looking.

I'm trying hard to give holiday gifts that are only hand or homemade this year, continuing a trend I started last year. The only exception to that 'rule' is the toys we have for my niece & nephew. I expect it will be a few years before they understand my intention there; but I'm teaching them. We make cookies together every year during the holiday season, and the memories I'm making with them are more precious than anything I will ever buy them.

Limoncello. Making my friends and family pleasantly intoxicated; that's a mitzvah, right?

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