summer in a drinker

juniper

 

Certain scents and flavors are unmistakable and just seem to invoke a particular season.   Few things say “summer” to me as much as lime and mint.   I love to have a bowl of limes (and lemons) in my kitchen at all times.  I use the zest and the juice in many dishes and beverages. There’s something about fresh citrus that really brings flavors to life.

A little over five years ago, I planted a large pot of mint on my patio.  As herbs go, it is easy to grow and very hardy in the Pacific Northwest.  In late fall, I completely cut the mint down to a few inches above the soil.  Each spring and summer for the past five years, I have been rewarded with a lush pot of mint.  This year the stems were well over 18 inches tall!  I use fresh mint in salads, cocktails, water, and tea.  As a garnish, fresh mint adds just the right amount of flourish to a variety of desserts like key lime pie and strawberry shortcake.  A sprig of mint and a fresh raspberry resting atop a frosted cupcake are simply a match made in heaven.

One of my favorite, go-to recipes for summer combines lime and mint.  It is a mojito-style drink that is delicious with our without spirits.  (As a hostess, I think it is really nice to be able to offer a “special” drink to those that don’t wish to consume alcohol.)  I blend up several batches of the mint-lemonade and then mix the drinks to order, as guests arrive.  Here’s the recipe:

Summer Mojitos

1 12-oz. can of lemonade concentrate, frozen

1 large bunch (12-15 stems) of mint, tops cut off and reserved for garnishing

Lemon-lime sparkling water, such as Talking Rain

Sliced strawberries for garnish

Lime wedges

Rum, tequila or vodka (optional)

 

1. Wash mint in a bowl of warm, salted water.  Rinse several times in cold water.

2.  Pinch off the top leaves of each mint stem, and reserve for garnish

3.  In a blender, combine the frozen lemonade concentrate, washed mint (stems and leaves) and 12 oz. of cold water.

4.  Blend on high for 2-3 minutes.

5. When the mixture is well blended, turn the blender off and let the mixture sit for approximately 5 minutes.

6.  Spoon off and discard the excess mint, which will rise to the top of the blended mixture.

7.  Pour the remaining mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any large pieces of mint.

8.  To assemble the drink:  Add ice to your drinker or wine glass.  Squeeze a lime wedge over the ice and add the wedge to the glass.  If using alcohol, add 1.5 ounces of white rum, tequila or vodka.  Add 2 ounces of mint-lemonade mix.  Add 1-2 ounces of sparkling water.  Stir to combine.  (If you omit the alcohol, mix 2/3 mint-lemonade mix with 1/3 sparkling water.)

9.  Garnish with a mint sprig and a sliced strawberry.

10.  Store any left over mint-lemonade in a glass container in the refrigerator.  It will keep for up to 5 days.  Shake well before using.

I hope you enjoy this mojito-style treat.  With our without alcohol, it is refreshing on a balmy summer night.  This beverage is a triple threat:  it smells good, looks amazing and will delight your palate.  Cheers to the unmistakable tastes of summer!

 

 

A Summer Bucket List

In some parts of the country, the dreaded “s” word is already back in session. In Seattle, it feels like we’ve just hit mid-summer, although the calendar shows only a few weeks before “back to school” becomes a harsh reality. At my house, this means it’s time to look over our “summer bucket list” and prioritize any items that don’t yet have a check mark next to them.

The summer bucket list is a ritual in our household. It came about quite by accident, a little over six years ago, when I was trying to come up with summer activities and experiences that would interest both my 7-year old and 13–year-old sons. Two brothers with more diverse interests, there never were. (The age difference didn’t help, either.)

Learning how each boy wanted to spend the summer was eye-opening for me. I learned that their wish lists were simple and more about creating memories than about expensive experiences. Coming up with the list was really a big part of the fun. But the biggest surprise of all was the joy that each boy took in helping the other accomplish their bucket list items. Who knew that musical theater and monster trucks could actually coexist…peacefully?

That first summer, each of my sons wrote the items from their list on little slips of paper and put them in their own bucket. The boys then took turns choosing something from their bucket for us to do on our “bucket list day”. Now that the boys are older, we compile individual and family summer bucket lists and check items off as they are accomplished.

Here’s my 13-year-old son’s bucket list for this summer:

 

Approaching July and August with our intentions written down seems to ensure that we don’t reach September and have remorse about having squandered the summer. (Although, I happen to believe that a little bit of squandering is what summer is all about.) We rarely accomplish all the things on our summer bucket list, but the list becomes a map of sorts for where we want summer to take us. Do you have a summer bucket list? There’s still time to decide how you’d most like to spend these waning weeks of summer.

Until next time,
Mary

drinkers for dessert

My family was only too happy to "test" the recipe for Coconut Kahlua Sundaes. They assured me that they had your safety and well-being in mind!

mimisprocketmelissagregoryaddison

 Our hand blown stemless glassware that we call “drinkers” are great for lots of things besides beverages.  I’ve been using them to serve dessert lately, and let’s just say that they elevate whatever is in them to a delicious new level!  Be forewarned that you will receive oohs and ahhs from your guests—even if your “guests” are family.

Here is a favorite “go to” recipe for a fast and elegant dessert:

Coconut Kahlua Sundaes

Ingredients: Vanilla ice cream, sweetened, flaked coconut, Kahlua

Instructions:  The most difficult part of this recipe is toasting the coconut.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.  Sprinkle 3/4 cup of flaked coconut into a thin layer on a cookie sheet.  Toast the coconut in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until the coconut is medium brown and very fragrant. (I recommend that you set the timer at five-minute intervals to ensure that your coconut doesn’t burn.)  Remove from oven and let the coconut cool to room temperature.  (Toasting the coconut can be done a day or two in advance.)  When cooled, place the coconut in a glass, airtight container.

To assemble each dessert, put two scoops of vanilla ice cream in a drinker, top with 2-3 tablespoons of Kahlua, sprinkle toasted coconut on top and serve.

(Note:  In place of Kahlua, you could use strong coffee or espresso.)

There’s something almost magical about seeing the rich Kahlua cascade down the vanilla ice cream and form a decadent pool at the bottom of your drinker.  The toasted coconut adds a delightful, nutty crunch to each spoonful.  While this desert is delicious any time of year, it is especially welcome on a warm, summer night.

Enjoy!