Reason For Not Eating Out #46: Because You Can Make Foods You Never Knew Existed (Nor Were Intending To Make Exist)

What the heck did I make? The question I got from everyone who saw this concoction was the same one going through my mind. I’ll get into this Great Green Mystery next, but that’s a quandary with cooking that I hold dear. You can set out to do something in determination, follow the books, or wing it haphazardly, and still surprise yourself all the same. Trust me, I wouldn’t enjoy cooking as much if I could predict what I was getting myself into each time.

So, the sage plant in the garden was beginning to bud, a phenomenon itself I had never expected. To prevent the plant from sending all its energy to the flowers, instead of the coveted leaves used to season things, I nipped them all, as they say, in the bud. Then, these sage buds were so pretty I figured there had to be some good use for them. A few minutes later, I was pouring 96 proof Polish grain alcohol into a mason jar with them. (The grain alcohol was leftover from making a tincture with grapefruit peels for a beer.)

sage beginning to bud

the buds in a jar, about to infuse

I’d made butters, flavored oils and all sorts of edible stuff with these herbs, but never something for the toiletries shelf. So I had a half-baked notion of making some sort of sage cologne. I imagined myself filling a tiny bottle of the tincture and placing a handwritten label with “Sage” in flowing script, and daydreamed about putting it next to my handmade candles and soaps made from goose fat or something, like some crafty, witchy lady that I was not.

high-proof grain alcohol is poured over

It’s too bad the grain alcohol smelled like lighter fluid to begin with. And it continued to, after letting the sage leaves soak in a dark place for a few days, while I forgot about it.

But behold — the liquid turned a deep emerald-green, about the same as the Wicked Witch of the West’s face! Maybe I was onto something here, especially considering sage leaves aren’t that green to start off. The folks I showed this “tincture” to all thought it smelled “pretty good,” if very strong. Next time, I’m going to try to use a cleaner-smelling alcohol base and may have to do sage-infused cocktails sometime.

after three days

So it was another adventure, in figuring-it-out-yourself as you do-it-yourself. And even though this task is not yet completed to satisfaction, it goes to show how I come up with most recipes on this blog. Using what’s available often leads to experimentation with food, and dishes you’d never seen or heard of before. Sometimes, they impress; other times, cause distress — or pure amusement, as with this “perfume.”

Whatever the case, it’s nothing to sweat. And if there are no trials and errors, the triumphs — when you create something new and unique that’s great — wouldn’t make you half as proud. Let’s keep on tinkering, and putting fun recipes out in the world.

(And any suggestions on what to steep these herbs in next would be great!)

4 Responses

  1. koszyczek

    Hi, I am your regular reader from Poland and must confess the picture of this bottle was the last thing I expected to see here 🙂 Good luck with your endeavours 🙂

  2. Amanda

    I experiment all the time like this! Do you like the way it smells enough to wear it? If not, I would turn it into a house cleaning product or air-freshener. Just find a recipe for an all-purpose cleaner and add a good bit of your potion instead of essential oils. If you want to wear it somehow, dilute it with some other vodka, and mix in some essential oils (maybe some lemon and/or lavender?)? and use it as a body splash?

  3. Lynn

    When I was in Italy, a B&B I stayed at served “medicine” after dinners. “Medicine” was in fact homemade liquors, and my favorite was the sage. I got the recipe, which was something like: 1/2 liter of grain alcohol, 1/2 liter of water, 20 sage leaves, 500 grams sugar and the zest of a lemon. You mix it all together, store in a dark place, and strain after 2 weeks. Then you let it age for 9 months, which helps the flavor mellow. It might be a good way to use your sage!

  4. Simcha

    Looks like an interesting experiment. Ive never had sage alcohol but being in Turkey sage tea is drunk all the time. İts quite nice and its usually harvested from the mountains.

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