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Posts Tagged ‘Mint’

I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but the warmer days have me thinking about the Spring/Summer garden planting.

We have already hit 90F here in South Texas. That is just too hot, WAY too soon for me. Last week we had another cooler down that was right up my alley and it had me opening the bedroom windows at night to cool the me down!

Tabouli

Tabouli

I try hard to purchase veggies in season, but I had an itch (and an event to bring a dish to) to make Tabouli (click on the word “Tabouli” to link to the recipe that I posted back in July of 2013). I picked and used as much as I could from the gardens; parsley, mint, cilantro, onion. But I did have to purchase things like cucumber and tomato (oh I can’t wait to pick that first fresh tomato!)

I am behind in my seed starting, but my tomato seedlings are up and a few of the pepper seeds are starting to sprout. I did pick up some heirloom and non-GMO seedlings at The Natural Gardener a few weeks ago. They are already potted up into gallon containers. The Natural Gardener didn’t have their pepper plants in yet, so I will check back in with them, as well as check a few other local nurseries to find some organic ones.

Reality check: last wee our temps are back in the “Texas Winter” range. We have been 25F at night with a few days that didn’t get about 45F (I know that is a heat wave for some of you out there.) so my seedlings are living in the garage and in the house for while.

What type of seeds will you be starting to prepare for the upcoming gardening season?

Sincerely, Emily

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This past Sunday a few of us gave you a glimpse at what we have growing on our gardens. This week I wanted to share with you what I do with some of that fresh produce that comes out of our garden.

One of the salads that I make a lot is tabouli (or tabbouleh). It is great in the heat of the summer not to have to turn on the stove-top or the oven.bulgar tabouliSome tabouli recipes you find will have you pour boiling water over your bulgar, but I just soak mine. Again, any reason not to turn on that heat-producing appliance!

This salad can be made with the traditional way using bulgar or cracked wheat, but it can also be made using quinoa (need to follow quinoa cooking instructions for that)

Tabouli

  • 2 cups bulgar or cracked wheat
  • 1 tbsp.  salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 chopped mint

Put your bulgar in a bowl or sauce pan and cover it with water an inch above the bulgar. The bulgar will soak most or all that water up and you may need to add more. I let mine sit for at least 45 minutes, usually longer. The last thing I want it to take a bite and come down on a hard piece of wheat.

Chopping Mint

Chopping Mint

If you do end up with more water that your bulgar soaked up, just use a mesh colander and strain it.

While your bulgar is soaking up that water, start chopping all your herbs and vegetables. It is up to you whether you want to de-seed your cucumbers and tomatoes.

I toss things together as I chop. Once your bulgar is ready, toss it with all the vegetables and herbs. Mix your lemon juice and oil olive together ad pout it over your bulgar mixture and toss again.

You want to allow time for all the flavors of the herbs and dressing to mingle so give yourself a minimum of 30 minutes to let everything marinate before serving. If you are in the area of the kitchen, give it a toss and stir as you walk by to bring any of the marinade up into more of the tabouli.

If you want your tabouli heavy on the vegetable and herb side, either double the amounts of the herbs and veggies or knock the bulgar amount down by half. Up to you! This makes a pretty big bowl.

I love making this using all the fresh herbs from the gardens along with the fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. It is a great way to celebrate summer and the harvest from your garden or local farmers markets.

What are you cooking with things from your garden?

Sincerely, Emily

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Last summer I was drinking a lot of iced green tea with mint.  My mint was growing really well and this year it is already growing well too. Every time I brew up some iced tea, I have been throwing 5-6 stems of mint in there to steep with the tea. It is very refreshing on these hot days.

As the months go on, there comes a point when my mint turns dry and crispy in our hot summer temps. Last July I was trying to harvest and dry as much mint as I could to use throughout the winter months for making hot mint tea. I am glad I took the time to do the harvesting. It was worth it.

After I harvested a ton of mint last July I spent a few days visiting a friend in Austin, Texas. She wanted to make mojitos, so I took a bag of freshly picked mint with me. I had never had a mojito, but I had heard of them and people always commented on how refreshing they are. This is the recipe she had from allrecipes.com:

The Real Mojito

Ingredients

  • 10 fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar, or to taste
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 fluid ounces white rum
  • 1/2 cup club soda

Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into a sturdy glass

Use a muddler to crush the mint & lime to release the mint oils & lime juice.

Add 2 more lime wedges and the sugar, & muddle again to release the lime juice.

Do not strain the mixture.

Fill the glass almost to the top with ice.

Pour the rum over the ice, then fill the glass with carbonated water.

Stir, taste and add more sugar if desired.

Garnish with remaining lime wedges.

WOW! What a refreshing and easy drink to make. I am not a big drinker (of alcohol) so what we did after the first drink was start playing around with non-alcoholic versions. We made one with just club soda, but didn’t think it had any “kick” to it. I think it would have been good with tonic instead, but we didn’t have any.

The second non-alcoholic mojito we made we used ginger ale. That one was GREAT!

Each time we made one, we just kept adding to the mint and lime that was already in the glass. I realize after a few of these we would have to take out the lime and mint left-overs to make room for the liquid.

My mint has been growing well this year. It is a bit leggy in the spring so as I started to cut it back I would stash some mint leaves in the refrigerator. It was time to make a mojito using my homemade ginger beer. I used the basic ingredients from the above recipe, but I  did not add any sugar since there is already sugar in my ginger beer.

Here are some other fun recipes for making some interesting sounding iced teas:

  • Thai iced Tea – combining star anise, mint and sweetened condensed milk.
  • Spicy-Spiked Iced Tea that mixes the flavors of cinnamon, orange, clove & rum (optional I think).
  • Flying Eagle Iced Tea – using lemon juice, mint and vodka (again, I think it would make a nice flavored iced tea without the vodka)

I am still trying to come up with a clever name for my non-alcoholic mojito, until then, I hope I have inspired you to try something new. Now I am out of ginger beer and behind in making more.

*UPDATE: 26 May 2012 – Post on Make you own: Ginger Beer

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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Sometimes we think that putting up food is all about canning, drying, and freezing. But there are items that compliment our foodstuffs that we can also put up for the lean times of the year. Items like extracts, wines, and vinegars are a few things that many people don’t realize they can make at home and easily!

Now that baking season is upon us, I’m taking advantage of vanilla beans being on sale and making some of my own vanilla extract. This is such a simple process – the hardest part is waiting for it to be finished!

First off, since I’m a little frugal I buy inexpensive vodka and run it through my water filter pitcher to get all of the impurities out of it. The result is a smoother flavor that won’t put as much hair on your chest, or empty your pocketbook like the more expensive brands. Just make sure you run a small amount of your alcohol through the purifier to clear out any lingering water so your vodka doesn’t get watered down. On the same note, run several cups of water through your purifier after you’ve filtered alcohol or that glass of water you drink later may just get you drunk.

The good recipes call for 6 whole vanilla beans, split and scraped per one cup of 75-80 proof vodka. Don’t skimp out on the beans – you need the potency of the vanilla and the alcohol to meet the standards of an extract, unless you’d rather be making your desserts with vanilla flavored vodka. (Here’s a good resource for the types of beans available and their best uses.) Put the whole bean in the liquid, including the seeds, and let it steep for at least 4 weeks; store it in a dark spot and give it a good shake every now and then. As you empty the bottles into something more decorative or practical, reserve the seeds and beans and top of your jar with fresh liquor, then re-steep for several weeks. Now that weaker stuff you made last year may taste good in a winter-themed martini….

As crazy as it sounds, one can get tired of vanilla flavored goodies. This summer I had a great harvest of mints.  Instead of making dried teas, I’m making some homemade mint extract using a similar technique. I took a large bunch of mints, washed and dried them, then gently bruised them with my fingers to release some of the oils. I then topped the mints with my purified vodka. Don’t pack the jar with mint, you want some room for circulation. Let steep for 3-4 weeks, then strain the leaves and any sediment. The result will be a brownish tincture. If the color puts you off, you may consider adding some vegetable-based food coloring.

Now, if you want something that doesn’t have a brown tinge to it, you’ll want to follow a more scientific process of extracting the oils from the herbs. Here is the best site I’ve seen yet that explains this process. But if you’re really in a hurry and need your flavoring, like now… then try this method. Yeah, I get a little geeky sometimes. Up next for me, by the way, is homemade bitters and meyer lemon extract!!

Here’s hoping I’ve helped some of you out there to think beyond the cans and dried goods! After all this chatting I know I’m craving a nice vanilla libation.

Jennifer can also be found at Unearthing this Life where’s she’s soon to blarg about all the snow she’ll experience in Michigan.

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