It is HOT in Oklahoma right now.
Hot weather means I like to stay inside...and if I must be outside, I require something cool and sweet to sip on.
Needless to say, I've been freshly squeezing lots of citrus juice over the last two weeks. I was inspired by a lemonade recipe on Pinterest...and altered it slightly...and then came up with my own limeade recipe that can continually be found in my fridge.
The crucial ingredient in each recipe makes me so happy...and is such a summer memory for me.
Mint takes me back to my childhood. At the end of my fourth grade year, my parents bought a new home...their dream home. There was so much to explore as children, while my parents worked on renovations and details. It's three acres of land seemed an entire forest and meadow to us.
One of my favorite places outside was (and still is) a beautiful herb garden. With stone pathways, rock walls, and grapevines surrounding it, it seemed magical...if not a bit overgrown at first. I think I must have felt a bit of what Mary Lennox did when she discovered that hidden spot in The Secret Garden. And my favorite plot was where the mint grew...so many varieties of mint. Over the years, the garden has changed. A perennial garden replaced most of the herbs. A hefty stone sundial in the center of the garden was replaced with a fountain and then an outdoor dining set. But the mint remains.
I've been so excited (and thankful!) to transplant some of that fragrant mountain mint to each place we've called home. Eastern North Carolina. Northern Texas. And now Oklahoma. This summer...my mint has exploded! I can't say that I mind the invasive tendencies of this delicious herb...and so here are a few recipes where it takes the spotlight!
Blueberry Mint Lemonade
fresh lemons (6-10 depending on size, to yield one cup juice)
1/2 to 1 cup sugar, to suit taste
5 1/2 cups cold water
1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed
5-6 sprigs fresh mint (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup leaves)
1. Squeeze enough lemons to measure one cup of lemon juice. (I love this juicer.) Pour lemon juice and water in a pitcher. Add sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.
2. Add blueberries and mint to lemonade and allow to chill for several hours, to let flavors mix.
Minted Raspberry Limeade
Minted Raspberry Limeade
fresh limes, 6-10 depending on size, to yield 1 cup juice
3/4 cup raspberries, plus more for garnish, rinsed
5 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
5-6 sprigs fresh mint
1. Squeeze limes to produce one cup of lime juice. Pour into pitcher. Add water and sugar to pitcher and stir to dissolve.
2. Place a fine-mesh sieve over the pitcher and place half of raspberries in the sieve. Using the back of a spoon, press raspberries to release juice. Continue until only seeds remain. Scrape the remaining juice from the bottom (outside) of the sieve into the pitcher. Discard seeds. Repeat with remaining raspberries.
3. Stir until the limeade is a lovely shade of pink. Add mint sprigs and raspberries to garnish. Allow limeade to chill and flavors to mix. Serve, allowing some raspberries and mint for each glass.