From scratch: Restorative lemon, ginger and honey cordial

P2P cordialThis changeable spring seems to have brought with it more than the usual number of debilitating bugs don’t you think?  Attendance at the primary school is down by a quarter and I have had two pale, hot and listless boys home for five days running.  It’s one thing for kids, but quite another for some of the mums who have been similarly stricken. Even the ‘tough’ ones are finding it hard to soldier on with Codral. And you know what it’s like; Mums don’t always get the care they deserve when they’re laid low. We have to look out for each other ladies!

This small ‘cheer up and get well’ treat is a cordial made of sunny lemons, warming ginger and health-giving honey.  I swear that if you feel a bug sneaking up on you and you rest up with one of these you will feel much better faster.

lemons and graterConfession time. Okay well here’s the thing:  Sometimes when you learn to make something from scratch it turns out to be so easy that it’s slightly embarrassing when someone asks you how you made it. This yummy lemon cordial is one of those things.  It’s pretty hard to muck it up.

Also it’s quite hard to write an accurate recipe. Some lemons give off a ton of juice and others much less. Flavour-wise, the backyard favourite Meyers are much milder than lemons such as Yenben. Also some honeys are very strong tasting or very sweet and can overwhelm. So, it’s a taste as you go kind of thing. Trust your instincts!


  • Lemons: Two if they’re nice juicy ones from the Chinese grocer down the road or three lemons if they’re the hard waxed yellow imported ones from the supermarket.
  • Honey: Manuka has antibacterial properties and is very good but also very expensive.  I’m experimenting with the raw untreated bush honey from the little bulk shop behind the multinational hamburger joint and I’m enjoying the different flavour.  Manuka can get a bit samey-meh.
  • Ginger root: I keep one in the freezer, as it’s great for lots of things such as baking, stir fries and tea.
  • Boiling water


  • Juice two to three lemons  Have you noticed that if your lemons are at room temperature you’ll get a lot more juice?  A couple of seconds warming in the microwave won’t hurt. Don’t worry about the pips, as you’ll strain them out later.I’ll often substitute limes because I have quite a few off my tree (first time ever!) and the flavour is very fresh. Grapefruit would also be good as long as it doesn’t contraindicate any medication your ‘patient’ might be taking. I love them, but Grapefruit can be sneaky like that.
  • NOTE:  I zest the lemons before juicing them as I keep the zest frozen in a snaplock resealable bag to use later in icing or baking.  You don’t need to do this, it just makes me feel all urban homesteady and uber efficient. Don’t crush my illusions. I’ll just point out, as the owner of sometimes grated knuckles, that it is easier to zest a whole lemon than a wet, slippery squeezed rind.
  • Grate ginger on the small side of your grater.  Don’t worry about peeling it.  Anything from two to four tablespoons of shaved ginger ice should do it.  If your ginger is fresh then two or three tablespoons should do.
  • Mix the grated ginger and lemon juice in a heatproof jug or bowl with a great big dollop of honey.
  • Pour half a cup of boiling water on top of it.  Mix until the honey is dissolved.  Leave for a few minutes to steep.  Have a little taste – what do you think? More honey?
  • Find a clean jam jar or small preserving jar with a lid.  This is what you’ll use to present or store your cordial.
  • To strain your cordial put a funnel into the jar, a sieve on top of the funnel and just pour it through. This will take out the pips and ginger skin. You might still get a little sediment, but that’s OK in my world.  If you don’t have a funnel then just sieve it into a pot or another bowl.  Nothing wrong with freestyling it.
  • Top up with boiling water.  Screw the lid on to the jar.
  • This cordial should last 2-3 days in the fridge, but it usually gets used well before then.
  • You might like to write a note to tell your friend to dilute the mix to taste. With this in mind it’s better to make a stronger mix than a weaker one, and then it can be enjoyed over a few restorative sessions.
  • P2P cordial outsidePretty it up a bit!  I have a few paper flowers around from my latest obsession, so my jars went off looking quite sweet. Something tells me Martha Stewart is unlikely to come knocking anytime soon, but it made for a suitably girly spring treat.
  • Deliver to your friend.  I hope she gets better soon.

Stay well xx

P.S  Some people may think they have seen me adding a slug of whisky for certain sickies.  I couldn’t possibly comment, but if you’re making this for a man-flu victim, it does mysteriously seem to increase the chances of consumption.

In the company of ladies

Mosaic flowerSome years ago, I joined a folk painting class with a few friends of different ages and stages. Eventually we were chucked out, ostensibly because the teacher no longer wished to run evening classes.  But we always secretly suspected it was for laughing too much, and not paying enough attention to our correct colours and strokes.

The other thing about ‘decorative painting’ (as were were instructed to call it) is that it is extremely prescriptive.  We all have very different tastes and preferences, and although we had benefitted by learning paint control and technique, we all wanted to build on what we had learned and break out a little.

However we just weren’t quite ready to let go of the ongoing creativity and sense of companionship we enjoyed, working on different projects together for three hours on a Monday night.  So when Helen bravely and generously offered her lovely big table we jumped at the chance of continuing to meet each other every week.

We meet, we check in, we paint, we embroider, we glue, we sew.  Mostly we talk loudly and laugh even louder.  Tea is drunk (in quantity), cake is eaten, children sorted, victories celebrated, health discussed, problems aired, resignations contemplated and embarrassments shared, to the great enjoyment of all.

A surprising amount of work gets done. It’s the ideal opportunity to create, to make birthday presents and finish those UFO’s, or unfinished craft objects as my friend Helena calls them in her post on the topic.  Helen creates graphic and imaginative images with strong lines, Carolyn her amazing mixed media and altered art and Julie her gorgeous flowered pastels and embroidery.  I could pick their work, sight unseen, out of a police lineup (not that there has been any need for this to date you understand).

When the National Government cut funding to community education I was exceedingly angry at the typical shortsightedness.  It’s not just upskilling in Mandarin, wood turning or Thai cookery, it’s the creation of personal cross linkages which builds community.

Our Monday night group creates for me an unprecedented feeling of support and community.  Without this encouragement. I wouldn’t have felt empowered to start the 100 Days Project or this blog. When life gets too busy and I feel too tired to set off, my husband always encourages me to set off: ‘Go! You always feel better for going’. And he is right and good to do so.

I get by with a little help from my friends.  Do you?

Thank you CFs.