I know you're all waiting for squash bread but I wanted to share this with you first as the roses may all be blown over before I get another chance to post.
The previous owner of our house was a rather old and very green fingered gentleman who loved roses. In amongst the spindle tree and fuchsia he planted many rose bushes which bloom one after the other - almost as though he planned it that way...
The first are peachy and delicate with the scent of apricots, opening into enormous decadent blooms. Then come yellow roses, tinged with pink that deepens as they open fully, these have a delicious fruity bouquet that I am drawn to each time I nip out for herbs.
A little dog rose creeps up a trellis at the back of the garden, its tiny white flowers opening and fading in a couple of days, taking with them that rich spicy wild rose scent.
Finally there is a wayward bush which leans as improbably as a windblown tree. Yet it produces beautiful white roses, clustered in bridal bunches that the bees meander about lazily, drunk on opportunity. The scent of these roses seems white itself, clean and uncomplicated. When the white roses have gone over, they are followed by deep red blooms, from the same bush. Each year when the bush is fully clothed in white, I wonder if the red roses will really come . The late flowers have the best scent, like Persian rose water - we're still waiting for that miracle to happen.
A while ago my friend Natalie mentioned that she had a recipe for rose petal honey but in my impatience to taste it and anxiety that I should miss the best of the roses, I improvised my own recipe. It tasted like heaven.
In fact it tasted just like the roses smelt, fresh and fruity, uniquely rosey, exotic and yet perfectly redolent of an English summer garden.
I kept it in the fridge because I wasn't sure how it would keep and every day since then I open the jar and have a good sniff, especially on rainy days. It's perfect over some thick cool yogurt or stirred into a chamomile tea.
In fact I can't think of much it wouldn't improve. I urge you to try making some of your own.
Rose Petal Honey
1 lb runny light tasting honey (preferably local)
Brush any bugs from the roses and separate the petals from the stem.
Put the petals of one rose into a largeish glass jar and pour over about 1/6th of the honey. Repeat until everything is finished and poke the petals down so that they are covered by the honey. They will float up, but don't worry, just let them.
Seal the jar and leave it about 12 hours, then gently stir the rose petals and seal up again for another 12 hours.
Strain the petals out of the honey through a sieve and leave then to drain for an hour or so before squeezing gently to get the last of the honey out. Pour into a clean jar and keep in the fridge (because the honey has been a little diluted it may not keep as well as unadulterated honey).
If the honey is not strong enough, simply repeat the process again.