Reduce heat and simmer for 6 months
November 10, 2014 9:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a "project" that takes 5 to 6 months to complete, ideally with most of the time being waiting. This could be anything - plants, food, art, etc - but should not be something that I simply send away for and have to wait 6 months for a package.

I'm getting married in late Spring and would like some sort of tangible representation of the concept of waiting/looking forward to 6 months from now. I'm envisioning something along the lines having a meal cooking in a crockpot, but on a longer time scale.

Is there a sourdough recipe that takes 6 months? Build something out of concrete that would take 6 months to cure? Can I make and age cheese at home?

I'm mentally stuck on food, but any other type of project would be great as well (I don't generally drink, so ideas relating to homebrewing probably won't be a good fit.). Bonus points for something that we can make use of at our reception.

posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug to Grab Bag (30 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Chia pets?
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:51 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Even if you're not a big drinker, you could make, age, and then bottle limoncello. It's pretty mild and would be a fun treat for the adults at your reception. It's not a "drinking" drink. It's a digestive/dessert treat.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:53 AM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]

wait all summer.

Ah. Important details for my specific circumstances: I'm in the American midwest (Zone 5). It's 45° F today and I don't anticipate anything much warmer than that for a long time.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:57 AM on November 10, 2014

With a little more work than simply waiting, you could grind your own telescope lens. Then observe the heavens at the reception.

Good info here.

Or how about a solargram, capturing the passage of the sun over six months?
posted by popcassady at 9:59 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Can you make cheese? Depending on the kind you make I think you can adjust the aging time to suit your schedule.
posted by dlugoczaj at 9:59 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

What about making pickles of some sort? It doesn't just have to be cucumbers. Beans, carrots, beets.... Any home made preserve type thing would work as well.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:59 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Traditionally, most wedding cakes were heavy fruit cakes, and they can be baked and then soaked in booze for months until they're actually eaten. You could bake the layers now and then have someone decorate them for the special day.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:59 AM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]

Plant bulbs. You'll have to do a little research to figure out the exact timing for your location but there are lots of varieties that sit in the ground for 5-6 months.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:00 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Preserved lemons (just one recipe - there are tons). The longer they wait, the better they taste.
posted by muddgirl at 10:03 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Make aged eggnog?
posted by peacheater at 10:07 AM on November 10, 2014

Meat curing? Hams could take that long.
posted by nolnacs at 10:09 AM on November 10, 2014

My father-in-law would make next year's fig pudding a year in advance and then hang (or store) it under the stairs for some reason. It would then ferment, or whatever fig pudding does, all year. This could be shortened to six months, I'm sure.
posted by bondcliff at 10:09 AM on November 10, 2014

Vanilla extract?
posted by kmennie at 10:15 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

I know you say you don't drink, and so you're probably wondering why so many people are giving you so many drink recipes. A lot of those are liqueurs, which aren't, like, chugged - they are sipped in teeny little elegant glasses. Or drizzled over ice cream for a very elegant dessert. And even better, they're not the kind of thing where you have to worry about yeast or measure gasses escaping or anything like that - there is no fermentation involved. They're infusions, where all you do is dump a bunch of stuff in a jar, leave it there for a long time, and then strain out the solids when it's ready and maybe add some sugar syrup (depending on the recipe) and then maybe let it sit a bit longer (depending on the recipe).

And this specific recipe for an apricot-cardamom cordial takes 6 months to age, makes a good deal, and is absolutely fucking delicious.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:15 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

Bonus points for something that we can make use of at our reception.

Can you tell us a bit about your wedding and reception? How big? What kind of food? No alcohol at all? What about some kind of lactofermented homemade sodas? I was also thinking of party favors of some kind that you could make over the course of six months but I'm not sure what your wedding will be like.
posted by Beti at 10:18 AM on November 10, 2014

I got this from a cookbook (Salt, Sugar, Smoke) which I was relying on for preserving stuff from my farm share. It had great recipes for turning fruit into cordials or creme de (appropriate french name for blueberries, strawberries or other summer fruit here) but the thing that I want to do next year is Confiture de Vieux Garcon or Old Boy Jam.

Basic recipe (French but Google Translate is pretty good at the English)

basic Old Boy Jam process from Salt, Sugar, Smoke (typing this mostly from memory so apologies on discrepancies)

start with:

1 large 1.5 to 2 liter glass jar with a wide mouth
brandy, gin or eau de vie

1. Take your fruit and prep. Berries can be left whole, Stone fruits should be pitted. Other large fruits should be cut into thick wedges and seeded.
2. Place fruit on a tray and scatter with sugar and let sit for an hour.
3. Add fruit to the jar and fill to cover with brandy, gin or eau de vie.
4. place a plate on top to keep fruit submerged. Cover top of jar with plastic wrap.

Every week, repeat the process with whatever fruit is in season. Change and wash the plate. Use new plastic wrap. Do not stir.

When the jar is full, seal it and store in a cool, dark place for 3 months. It should have all of your fruits of summer: a layer of strawberries, a layer of blueberries, a layer of peaches, a layer of plums, a layer of pears, etc. Open in December for the booziest, tastiest fruit jam ever.

Given your spring timeline, I don't think there's anything wrong with letting it age even further. I think the main challenge will be resisting the urge to eat it once it's ready. If you try to be strict about starting it on your late Spring harvest and using fruits at their seasonal peak, then this is also likely to make your project more like a 9 or 12 month project, rather than 6. Though, if you live in a climate where you can get fresh berries or other fruit year-round, then that may make the timing more flexibile.
posted by bl1nk at 10:24 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding an aged, steamed cake, like a traditional English Christmas pudding.
posted by Specklet at 10:26 AM on November 10, 2014

Grow some crystals! Then you can put them on the tables at the reception.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:29 AM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

A second point about the liqueurs - even though you are leaving something to sit for a long time, there's still a gradual "evolution" involved, especially at the beginning - the color of the liqueur will deepen over time. I got all up into making liqueurs one summer, and watching the color change from a pale tint to something strong over time was cool.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:35 AM on November 10, 2014

Six months is about 200 days. Buy a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle whose image is meaningful or in some way connects with your relationship. You can only assemble five pieces per day, everyday. When you get back from the honeymoon, glue it together and have it framed and mounted, and hang it in your bedroom.
posted by jbickers at 10:35 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seconding vanilla extract. Order beans from and infuse a decent bourbon or vodka.
posted by purenitrous at 10:56 AM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

Here's a good chart for bulb planting. November is a great month to plant them. I bet you could get a whole bunch of containers, dig the containers into the ground to keep them the temperature of the soil, and then harvest the entire container to use in your ceremony.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 11:44 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Making mead can be pretty easy, and could be ready in that time-frame.
posted by Lafe at 12:39 PM on November 10, 2014

Oh, crap, just noticed that the link for my apricot-cardamom cordial won't let you link to the recipe proper, but rather to the SCA index page it's on.

The recipe is here:
2 cups Apricots, peeled & stoned, cut into quarters
2 cups Sugar
1/2 tsp. Cardamom seeds
2 cups Ketel One Vodka

Place all ingredients in a 1-quart glass jar with lid tightly fastened. Use either a lid insert that has been treated with plastic or saran wrap over the top of the jar prior to sealing the lid to prevent the metal coming in contact with the vodka (the metal can add a bitter taste if in contact with the vodka).

Place the jar in the sunlight for 2 days and shake it in the morning and in the evening.

Then place the jar on a shelf in the dark for at least 6 months.
I actually used a half-gallon mason jar as the jar when I made this, and for the lid, I took just the ring part from a two-part mason jar lid, lay saran wrap over the lid and used the ring to screw it down. It worked just fine (although I had to be a bit more careful with the "shake it in the morning and evening" part).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:57 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

As mentioned above, plant bulbs. Get them in the ground before it has frozen hard - so you're probably fine for the next couple of weeks or so.

A good supplier is Van Engelen, and you should be able to find things fairly cheaply as it is starting to get on the late side of bulb planting. A bunch of 'single late tulips' would probably be blooming around the time of your wedding. Narcissus (aka daffodils) have a longer lifespan (in terms of years of blooms you'll get) and you can get lots for not much money. Thalia is elegant and beautiful. Get more than you think you want. The more you plant, the more enjoyable it is in the spring. A couple hundred is probably a good scale. If you want, get tools designed for bulb planting.

If you have things like bridesmaids and so on, you could make it a pre-wedding activity to plant them all.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:04 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Cheese! You can absolutely make and age cheese at home. This site is fantastic for recipes and supplies. Keep in mind that the aging times noted are variable -- generally, a shorter time will yield a milder cheese, while a longer time will yield a sharper cheese -- so you don't have to choose one that ages exactly 6 months if you're willing to play with the flavor a bit.
posted by katemonster at 2:10 PM on November 10, 2014

Some kind of craft project? eg. Knit a set number of rows per day so that by the end of the period you have a blanket/shawl/whatever.
posted by penguin pie at 2:41 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Thanks for all the fantastic answers. The part I left out of the question (mostly because I've been so frazzled with planning) is that I'm "officially" proposing tomorrow, so I was hoping for a group activity that we could do with friends that evening. Aluminum soda/beer can solargraphs are perfect and right up my alley.

I picked up some photo enlarging paper and an large amount of 16oz drink cans for us to assemble. The plan is for friends and family to stick the pinhole cameras out at their homes for the time between now and the wedding ,and then we'll show off the 6-month exposures one way or another on the day of the ceremony.

Plant bulbs.

I actually work for a bulb importer, and I'll be trying my hand at growing a decent amount of the flowers for the ceremony.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 2:37 PM on November 21, 2014

We very well may be trying more of the activities people have suggested as time allows. They look like a lot of fun.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 2:50 PM on November 21, 2014

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