Isn’t summer grand?
After my strawberry post (the doe has not yet returned, by the way), I got to thinking about how amazing it is that you can plant something in the ground, give it some water, and then you can eat it. I mean, if you really think about that it’s pretty astonishing. I’ve picked about 20 pounds of strawberries at this point and the equivalent of about 20 store bought bunches of kale and chard. I’ve also plucked 6 or 7 beautiful heads of lettuce and a couple of heads worth of broccoli stalks. Just amazing. And I get to eat it; not only that, but it’s good for me. Now, lest you think I’m just showing off, I wanted to focus today on a gardening delight that many have found to be a little less than delightful, mint.
What’s wrong with mint you say? I’m guessing you’ve never grown it if you’re asking that question. My taste bud-driven answer is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with mint; in fact there is only right with mint; however, mint in the garden or yard can be a little, shall we say, unruly. I planted some cuttings from a generous friend a couple of years ago and for a couple of years the mint patch provided us with enough to dress up whatever needed mintifying. This year, the mint has decided that it really likes the raspberry canes and is rushing to meet them. I decided that rather than try to dig it all up and pot it (what I should have done in the first place), I was going to have to up the ante on my mint usage.
Inspired by my pal Jennifer over at New Home Economics, I set out to harvesting my mint, and WOW, did I have a lot to harvest. After cutting as much as I felt like I could deal with at one time (it gets alarmingly fragrant after a while, evidence that you CAN have too much of a good thing) I took it all inside and gave it a bath in my sink in bunches, removing stray blades of grass and insect friends taking an unintended ride-along. I then tied big bunches of the mint together, let it dry on a towel on the table for as long as my family could stand it, hung some up to dry Little House on the Prairie style and put more in front of the basement dehumidifier, Damp House in the Suburbs style. While there is no question that the mint was drying just fine, there was a scent.
I LOVE the smell of mint, truly I do, but there is a drying mint smell that is not unlike a drying basil smell that rings faintly of cat pee. Yes, that’s what I said. So, rather than endure the cat pee smell I turned on the oven as low as it can go (ours goes down to about 110 degrees F) and placed the mint on big trays. With the mint safely in the oven, we moved quickly past the cat pee phase and back to the smells like dried mint phase that I’d been hoping for. All that’s left for these crispy babies is to chop and jar so I can make some chocolate peppermint tea. No, I’m not adding chocolate (although we all know you can’t put it past me), the mint is chocolate peppermint and I’m so excited to brew some.
In addition to squirreling away dried mint for tea time, I remembered a coleslaw recipe that had mint and proceeded to dig out an old favorite I hadn’t seen for a while. Substituting based on my available goods, I put together a lovely caraway-mint coleslaw that was super refreshing after a hot day spent on a zoo field trip with 90 kindergarteners.
Psychedelic Slaw with Caraway-Mint Dressing – adapted from the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook
- 6 T apple cider vinegar
- 3 T mayonnaise* (or whatever you use for that, I used a vegan substitute)
- 1 T caraway seeds (I’d use more next time since Ms. Picky Pants won’t eat it anyway)
- 1 T maple syrup
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/4-1/2 t pepper
- 1 medium head purple cabbage
- 4 medium carrots
- 4 spring onions
- 4 T chopped fresh mint
Combine the first six ingredients in a bowl and whisk or stir with a fork and set aside. Shred the cabbage and the carrots (yes, a food processor makes this a SUPER easy recipe). Chop the spring onions into whatever size works for you. Combine all the vegetation in a large bowl. Pour on dressing and toss. Taste summer. Serve with summer fare. We had ours with these mushroom burgers (which our friend Becca over at The Earthling’s Handbook says we should call Nutshroom Burgers, and I think she’s right). Delish!
*The original Weight Watchers version of this recipe calls for reduced-calorie mayonnaise. I would like to just take a moment to explain that I neither endorse nor trust any food item that is made up of predominantly fat that calls itself “reduced-calorie” or “low fat” or “diet” or “lean.” A fat that is presented as a diet food has taken out some of the fat traditionally used to make it fatty and yummy and replaced it with all kinds of chemical garbage intended to fool your body into tasting and feeling fat. Personally, I’d rather use a little less of the fat that doesn’t contain a beaker of chemicals. So there.