Friday, September 23, 2011

The Gooseberry

Hey, I've missed you, bloggy friends. It's mine, not thou's fault. I got stuck in Helena for a week with the weed whacker. (winter preparations, there, too)

I'm going to plead "old age" for the reason it took so long. That's like the old romantic novels where the young gal's pleaded their bellies. I first saw that expression in "Forever Amber" in 1944 when I was 14. I found my mother's copy she hid in her underwear drawer. It was too racy for my eyes. How times change. What I'm trying to spit out, "It takes me longer to trim bushes than it used to."

I was going along, trimming my 3rd gooseberry bush down to the nibs when I happened to notice all the bushes were pleading their bellies. (So happy to get a chance to use that phrase again). Bazillions of glistening droplets of plump berries, crying out the word "wine." I blurted out, "No no, don't do that to me. I don't have time to pick you or caress you into a fine wine."

Oh, what the heck. Organic gooseberry wine. A white delicacy.

I'm now back in Bozeman with gooseberry wine fermenting in the wine bucket. I know I will be asked how I do it. Very simply, the old fashion way. Berries, handfull of raisins, one lemon, sugar, yeast. I still have my elderberry wine as I'm not much of a drinker. A thimblefull is sufficient once in a while.

I've made wine out of just about everything. Back when the good wild stuff was not drenched in poison spray, clover and dandelion were great favorites.

Sizzle, sizzle..... great fermentation. Now to catch up on my blog reading of my dear bloggy friends. Adios
P. S. Evidently I opened a small can of worms with the mention of the phrase "plead your belly," from the book Forever Amber. I'm so old, I guess I thought everyone had read the book as I think of it as a classic. The story takes place in the 1660's following Charles 2 return of the Stuarts to the throne. Homeless street girls who were pregnant, would "plead their belly" for a stay of execution for petty crimes they committed for survival. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. I hadn't read it in 67 years but I remember it in detail. How many books can boast of that?


  1. Okay..wait...wait..."pleading their bellies"??????? What??????

  2. This post was a sensual delight. I drank up every word.


    'It was too racy for my eyes. How times change'

    I want to change them back. And, as a writer, I'm starting to formulate a plan.

  3. My wine comes from the waiter--yours is probably better!

  4. Gooseberry wine? Sounds intriguing! But I do love champagne! Can you make gooseberry champagne???

  5. Oh how I wish I could drink some of your wine. Never made it from gooseberries. I have made elderberry but thats a completely different berry.

    I used to make my Daughter and her friend a dessert from gooseberries. Not many people have any idea what they are. just us old farts.

  6. Oh wow! This is just so cool! I've never heard that term before. Sounds fun.

    You know how to make wine? This is great. I've never seen a goose berry bush.

  7. I have never tried gooseberries though I was thinking or ordering some to plant. Now I know how to make wine with them if I get some!

  8. The wine sounds wonderful, but I'm afraid ya got me. "Plead their bellies?" Does that mean offering a fat tummy as an excuse for slowness? That's a new one on me.

  9. Ah, now I know something new having googled "plead their bellies". We used to make wine and beer back in the day, and it tasted so much better because it was home brew. Maybe I'll make some wine this weekend and bottle it up for cold winter days. :-)

  10. I'm new to your blog, Manzanita, and so I stand in amazement at all you do. I knew about the flamenco dancing, the hula hoop, and the dance classes but now I find you trimming gooseberry bushes and then making wine from them.

    A woman of many talents. Or as one novel title said years and years ago--"A Woman of Parts."


  11. I tried to make mead once, but the wine jar I used (I got it from a friend's father when he moved to France and wouldn't need it any more) must have been contaminated and I ended up with 15 litres of vinegar.

    In my disappointment I threw it all away, which I regret now. I could have had a lifetime supply of wonderful honey-and-herbs vinegar!

  12. I've never made wine before, but I have trimmed bushes.

  13. My first thought was: "Why make wine if you don't drink it?" But I make jam.... and I'm diabetic. I planted a gooseberry bush this year. I have hig hopes for next year. Maybe I need more than one though.

  14. Manzanita! Please pass a glass of ye wine over here! Thank you! Sounds yummy!!! My friend's mum made some elderberry wine once and boy was it potent but DELICIOUS!!

    Enjoy erm.. pleading their bellies!!! Take care

  15. NEVER bend over next to a gooseberry.
    I'm just sayin'.

  16. Oh My Gosh... I almost peed my pants when I read Als comment

  17. sexy pantz.


    i want it.


  18. I enjoyed reading this post. At first I confused Forever Amber with The Magnificent Ambersons, I got it now.
    Thirty years ago I went out eastern New Orleans and filled a big garbage bag with elderberries. I made 5 gallons of thick sweet wine almost like a port. I forget what type of yeast I used, boy that was good.
    I wonder if those gooseberries are the same as the Indian Amla so healthy for cholesterol health.
    Regardless, Thanks for a great post.

  19. I am so glad I came late for I was in the dark also. The saying totally makes sense now.
    Did not know there were so many things to make wine out of.

  20. Hi Manzanita. What a wonderful, wonderful feast Love your new header and the story and the bellies and the wine! It's great to have a few moments to visit.

    I haven't seen gooseberries for years, and can barely remember what they taste like. I must see if it's possible to get bushes, and if they'll grow here.

  21. When we moved from house to apartment, all the wine-making equipment went elsewhere. Sigh!
    The real reason it took you so long is that your are more careful and intentional about your bush trimming. Sure, that sounds reasonable.

  22. I've never heard of the book or the phrase, but I'll get to the library as soon as I can.
    I've never fermented anything, not on purpose anyway; there was that batch of cooked tomatoes one summer that seemed to evolve into something not quite right.

  23. Hi Manzanita .. beautiful roses .. and what a great post - love the gooseberries - they're delicious ... I've been wanting to cook them with mackerel ..

    Home-made wine .. those were the days - my mother made masses for a few years and I used to take up to London .. wasn't quite the same as the pub opposite the flat!!

    Great description for the book "Forever Amber" .. the 'pleading the bellies' is a great phrase .. and has caused a little flutter ..

    Great fun - thanks for giving me a laugh and an education .. cheers Hilary

  24. Okay, now you have me wanting to try to make wine. We have a lot of apples this year. Might as well experiment with some of them. :-)

  25. Oh dear, I've never been too racy for my eyes *oozing regret*. I've been avoiding gooseberries recently as I read that they're bad for arthritis but if you're eating them (and I know you're keen on a healthy diet) then they must be good for me.

    By the way, there’s a brand new award waiting for you on my blog. It’s a ‘thank you’ type of award :-)

  26. A really very interesting read! I hope you keep updating us with more info!

  27. Ah, memories of learning how to make wine when I lived in Montana! Some Native American friends taught me. Love the phrase "pleading their bellies." With two pregnant daughters this year that would have come in handy for them!

  28. Hi Manzanita .. I really appreciate your comment over at Sue's post - thank you! Cheers Hilary

  29. You can plead old age, Manzanita. It's what I'm doing! I can't keep up with everything in this technological world. Not really.

    Thank you for stopping by just now and reading my chapter two excerpt, and cheering me on. I'm glad you think it reads well. I keep reminding myself the race is not to the swift, but to the one who finishes, whenever that happens to be. Being a tortoise is okay. He'll still get to the finish line if he keeps putting one paw in front of the other.

    I need to stop more along the way and enjoy the view. Enjoy feasting on such visuals as you have here in your post. You have brightened my Sunday. Thank you!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

  30. Sounds like a must read for sure! Love the photo of the gooseberries...which I've never had before. The thought that you would make them into wine sounds delightful!

  31. Sounds like a good book. :), and you go girl, for making your own stuff! Good luck with the bush trimming :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  32. I remember Goose Berries. I think the neighbor had several bushes. I know they had currant bushes and I love to eat them. I can't remember eating the goose berries. I can still remember their taste. A distinctive taste. If you taste a goose berry you will always remember them and that taste. I guess geese like them. This is a nice post. Lots of comments.

  33. There are a few demi-johns bubbling away in my scullery too, of elderberry rather than gooseberry; the gooseberries were used up much earlier.

  34. Can I come over to share? It sounds better than bottled ones!

  35. nice post! +followed, come check my blog out when you get the chance!

  36. Manzi: I read that book a long time ago. I don't remember all the details, but I remember it was very long. Also, I recall that it was on the Church's "B" list. Thus, everyone rushed out to buy it. Also, I happen to know the phrase "plead the belly" from law studies. When women were sentenced to death, if they could prove they were pregnant, they would get a stay of execution to permit the baby to be born. Interesting stuff.

  37. What an interesting and delightful post.

  38. Delores : I added a Post script to explain "plead your belly." Serious stuff.

    Suze : Ha Ha..You description fits so well.

    Fishducky " Yours is a whole lot easier. :)

    Gigi : I don't know how to put bubbles in.... I can't seem to reach your blog lately.

    Texwisgirl : Maybe but I rarely ever drink. Can't even remember the last time. I'll let others do that. :)

    Terry : You said it. Wonder why they aren't so popular, maybe because they are so tart?

    Kay : You probably can't grow them in Hawaii but I bet they grew in Chicago. Seems like they really thrive in low temps.

    Katlupe : Gooseberries are very tart alone but with some of the red, sweeter berries, they make great jam.

    Susan : You are not alone in not knows the phrase. I added the meaning as a post script on the post.

    Towanda : There you go. A little wine is great on a cold winter night, except I forget to drink it. Ha Ha

  39. Dee : A Woman of Parts. I like that. Don't think I ever read it but I bet I would like it.

    K.C : Ha Ha....I can imagine you hustling to find room to store your life-time supply of wonderful vinegar.
    But good vinegar is a marvelous addition in cooking too.

    Carol : We're just some high-class trimmers. Ha

    AJ : They are prolific little bloomers. The fruit hangs down underneath and blends in with the leaves so at first you can't see them.

    Kitty : It's my pleasure to pass you the wine. Elderberry used to be my favorite. Always makes me think of that old movie, "Arsenic and Old Lace," with Cary Grant. His old aunts were killing old men with their poisoned elderberry wine and hiding the bodies in the window box. It was a stitch.

    Al : You make my day. Ha ha ha

    riva'l : It's a great morning. And you can have whatever you want.

    Terry : Al has that affect on me, too. Ha ha

    Anthony : Wheee that trip sounds like a great one and all that elderberry wine. It used to definitely be my favorite. It has such a deep red glorious color.

    Patti : I bet you've made wine. You are so adventuresome. If I drank more now, I'd have lots of wines fermenting but I love all the fall odors and that includes wine.

    Sue : That was an interesting post of yours and a great conversation with Hilary. Rev up the engine.... my favorite kind of posts.

    Rob : Always have to scale down when going into an apartment. Then you seem to have a use for the very things you toss.
    Ya, right, Rob..... It's because I'm so very careful. Don't I wish. Ha

  40. I"ve never had gooseberries. I wonder if they grow in the south?

  41. River : Ha Ha.... Never fermented on purpose, huh? You should have done something with the tomatoes sooner... maybe fried green tomatoes...??

    Hilary : Gooseberries and mackerel. Now that sounds delish. Oh, I bet that wine your Mum made had a bite to it. The art of home wine making seems to be dying out.

    Su-sieee : Apple wine .... yummm. You know, the worst that can happen when you make wine is that it turns to vinegar. And then you just have good vinegar. :)

    Roselind : I never heard about gooseberries being bad for arthritis but it doesn't surprise me with that tart flavor. I'll look it up but I won't be drinking much of it. Thanks for the award. It feels good.

    Jason : Thank you for stopping by and the nice comment.

    Galen : Oh my goodness. You are so funny, but yet, you could have used the phrase. :) I didn't know you lived in Montana.

    Ann : I sincerely think you are doing marvelously well as a ghost. When I think about it, that would be the hardest thing to do..... you would want the person right beside you every minute. Good luck

    Candace : Now that I've caused a little flutter with the book, I do think I'll read it again. Cheers with your autumn gathering. :)

    Miriam : Autumn's the time to try out your great fall recipes with some home-made wine. Thanks.

  42. Abraham : You're right. Currant and gooseberries go well together.... in jams or wines. My currant bushes don't do as well as the gooseberry. Currents alone, make good jam.

    Friko : I love the word demi-john and the shape, too. I've never owned one and always wanted to. But if I did, I'd have tossed it out years ago. I seem to do that and then I want it. Ha

    Nas : We should have viral wine parties. :)

    Rob Forget : Nice to meet you and thanks for stopping. I'll be by to see you soon.

    JJ : You are a delight. You always know what I'm talking about. You were the only one and I know it's NOT because you are old enough. No.... it's wise. I like that.... wisdom.

  43. LV : Thank you. What a sweet thing to say. I always enjoy yours too.

    Life 101 : Probably not because they seem to thrive so well in our frigid temps.

    Thank you dear bloggy friends. I love all your delightful and fun comments. Happy happy times for all of us.

  44. Wow, I am intrigued! I'd love to try some of that!

  45. Thank you very much for your blog visits to my own. Wine in moderation is good for you like they say, and i know of some folks who make it and give it out as gifts. Richard from Amish Stories.

  46. I've never had gooseberries before, are they any good?

  47. Old age is usually an excuse that works pretty well. I'd say gooseberry wine is a good excuse as well. I never had any, but I can only imagine.

    Tossing It Out

  48. You look much too young and act way too hip to have done anything that many years ago! Maybe that wine you're fermenting is from the Fountain of Youth! I will add Forever Amber to my list! Julie

  49. Oh wow, taking the time to make wine. I don't even take the time to buy it.
    Forever Amber. Haven't heard that one in a while. Maybe a reread.

  50. Talli : I wish you could too. You could be connoisseur and tell me if it's any good. :)

    Richard, Amish Stories : It makes a nice gift for those who take a little holiday nip once in a while. I give most of mine away too.

    DWei : Thanks for stopping. Gooseberries are good in jams, jellies and wine. They are a little tart and need a sweetner.

    Arlie : Often, when life seems to reach it's limit, we tend to look for those little excuses. I haven't reached that yet. I guess mine is more humor at this point.

    Julie : I hope you enjoy the book. I'm going to read it again after I touted it so much. That was a long time ago and perhaps I would see it differently now. (?)

  51. Oooooo, I can almost taste it. I'd love to learn how to make wine. I wonder if agarita berries would make a good wine?

    And now I'm going to have to read Forever Amber, it's one of those books I know about but never got around to reading.

  52. Wow. 'Plead their belly' - that is a new one for me too! Thanks for enlightening me! ;-)

  53. Love that phrase! Now ... how do I incorporate it into a normal conversation?? HHHMMMmmm... maybe it's just easier NOT to have normal conversations ...

    Have a great weekend!

  54. LOL!!...trimming the bush...LMAO!

  55. Hey, a gal's gotta plead whatever works!

    Maybe you'll host a gooseberry wine tasting party (hint, hint) - I'll bring some cheese!

    Down on the farm, folks made cherry bounce. Same old-fashioned recipe. One day the whole thing exploded - a grape experience! (I know, kinda lame!)

  56. Wonderful post, my dear Manzanita, enjoyed reading very much!! You are an excellent writer!
    Omg, your gooseberries look like pearls..!
    Though I don't take any alcohol, but your wine sounds really deliciousss!

    And there was also an opportunity for bettering my English;) "pleading the belly" - I got the explanation in wikipedia. You've drawn an interesting parallel with your gooseberries!


  57. Bish : After all that talk, it's on my re-read list but I had forgotten how "thick" it is."

    Talei : I think one has to have a little "age" on one to know that one. Ha... lucky you.

    Red : Some people of the more exceptional kind, never do have normal conversations. :)

    Reener : Thanks for stopping.

    Kitty : Cherry bounce.... sounds like wine with an exceptional punch. Or maybe it could be a dance .... Like the Jersey Bounce.... That's lammer. :)

    Zara : I'm not a drinker either, but it's a wonderful organic little gift for friends who do. Have a beautiful week.

  58. nyam nyam, likes "ghost and bery"?

  59. riva'l : Well said, well said. Sometimes we don't know when we are well off. Thanks for the comment.

  60. I want me some GOOSEBERRY!!! hehe