For many of us, including myself, summer fun is all about enjoying the weather. Whether you’re cooking out on the grill, visiting the beach or planting flowers, there are those activities that in my mind, are reserved for the summer months. One of my favorite things to do is garden. I love playing in dirt. This time last year I had tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, watermelon and even corn in our backyard. The boy helps me, so whatever he wants to plant, we give a whirl.
Well this year, I’m a little behind. In case you didn’t know, in Baltimore this year, beginning April 27th we experienced rainfall for fifteen straight days. And let me be the first to tell you that the two weeks following weren’t all that dry either. And it was cold. I was wearing wool socks in May around the house, and my winter coat to run errands. Needless to say, my ability to begin the garden was hampered.
Or was it?
Wanting to get something started, I decided to work on an indoor herb garden I could place in the kitchen window. I decided on basil, parsley, and oregano, but my favorite herb to grow is mint. Not only does it have a great aroma, its uses are plentiful, involve food and often an adult beverage. Mint is my kind of herb! Here are a few of my favorite ways to use it.
I must admit, I hate drinking water. It’s probably the worst habit I have, one I work on improving constantly. During the summer, it’s made a little easier. I love adding sliced strawberries, blueberries, and a few bruised mint leaves to my water. If you want to get extra special, toss in a few basil leaves. To quickly bring out the flavors, steep your fruit and herbs in hot water and let them sit for a few minutes, then add ice and cold water. I use our instant hot water and it works like a charm every time. The Boy tried it for the first time last week and now every time he gets water he has to toss in a mint leaf. Go figure. It provides just enough flavor, I can almost forget it’s water. Almost.
Nothing says summer like a tall glass of iced tea. Let me be the first to tell you however, that standing over a hot stove to prepare anything is not on my list of things-to-do during the summer. Not happening. Enter sunshine tea. What could be better than adding tea bags to a mason jar or larger container, adding water and letting the sun do the work for you? It’s really that easy, and once again, I add mint, lemon slices or other fruit to add a little flavor. Direct sunlight is key, so find the perfect spot, let it sit while you’re at work and when you come home you can relax outside with the fruits of all your hard work. Make sure your container has a lid, and once you have mastered the art of making sunshine tea, get bold and explore new flavors!
You have no idea how excited a good mojito makes me! My summer drink of choice, one of Kevin’s Christmas gifts was a mojito cocktail set. I couldn’t wait to try it. My new favorite is a pineapple mojito. Below is a recipe that can easily be prepared when you have a hankering for something refreshingly adult. This makes one drink.
2 oz pineapple rum
1/2 oz pineapple juice
4 lime wedges
12 mint leaves
1/4 oz simple syrup
Lightly muddle lime and mint leaves with simple syrup in glass. Add ice. In a cocktail shaker, briefly shake rum and pineapple juice with ice. Strain into glass, and top with a splash of sprite. I opt for sprite because I prefer mine on the sweet side, if that’s not you, try club soda. Garnish with a pineapple wedge.
Summer perfection in a glass.
Let’s stick to the facts. You’re not here because you heard I was a good cook. That’s not to say my cooking isn’t good, just that there are plenty of things I do better; like make drinks, garden, decorate, throw parties and everything else I actually enjoy doing. Occasionally you might find a recipe here, but there will be more adult beverages than food, guaranteed. With that being said, after The Man prepares the dish, I glam it up! I add mint to the strawberry & feta salad, or the salmon off the grill. If we’re entertaining, mint might be placed on the dessert plates, in the dessert, who knows where my imagination will take me. Bottom line is, folks love that you used something fresh; let it come from your very own garden and you can crown yourself Martha Stewart! Be mindful of your flavors, and if all else fails, place a bowl of mint leaves on the table for a little encourage-mint!
I’m sure it sounds corny, but I do enjoy chewing on fresh mint leaves just because I have them and I can. Another habit The Boy has picked up, so much so that I’m certain my plant is going to start balding soon! Ask me if I mind? He’s learning far more from this plant and it’s many uses than I could have realized. I might even give him his own so he can leave mine alone. Now there’s a good idea!
And there you have it. If you’re thinking of starting an herb garden and don’t know where to begin, consider mint. And try the mojito! Now hop on over to The Harper House and Chatham Hill on the Lake for their Favorite 5 Link Party, but before you do, tell me your favorite drink that uses mint, or another way you use it!