Sunshine in a glass.

Yesterday, I ate leftover quinoa for breakfast, outside in the morning sun with bare feet.

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I squinted a smile at Cholula. She was sniffing the trail of a determined ant as it crawled across the deck toward the flowerbed, which was now boasting colorful deep purple blooms and multiple about-to-explode buds. One of the aggressive magpies that stalk my birdfeeder poked his head around the corner, wanting to taste the new seed I just filled it with. Feeling the heat from the sun, I sipped my coffee, thankful that it wasn’t still piping hot on my tongue. A happy bee buzzed around the plant I potted for the outdoor dining table, now filled with 8 or 9 periwinkle flowers; when I brought it home, it had only two. A light morning breeze blew my sundress around my legs as I meandered around the succulents and shrubs, pulling any rogue weeds I’d missed earlier this week. The hillside behind the house was a blur of green and yellow and purple and pink, a carpet of sagebrush and wildflowers. A line of early-to-start mountain bikers cruised by on the trail high on the hill, their echoing voices joining the song of the birds. A brave, tiny chipmunk darted across the stone path, a squeaking little lightning bolt far too fast for Cholula. The temperature was insignificant- neither hot nor cold, a non-factor: perfect. In a rare moment of being present, I realized that these are the days I long for most of the year- my happy time had arrived.

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It’s been that kind of weekend.

There was toasty sunshine and a big batch of blooming peonies. There were wildflowers and earthworms. There were garden tools and dirty fingernails. There were bare feet and bike rides and lots of love for a sore doggie who ran too hard. There was salmon on the grill and crisp white wine on the front porch. I had success with my first roasted chicken, a proper Sunday supper, complete with shallot gravy.

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Oh, and refreshing cocktails made with vodka and homemade mint lemonade. They are basically SUNSHINE, in a glass!

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A while back, I took notes from my dear friend Nancy and froze fresh lemon juice in an ice cube tray. Remember that?

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Those tart little cubes have been hanging out in the freezer, waiting for a day just like yesterday. I dumped them into my cute juice pitcher and let them start to melt.

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Last summer, when I had something of an obsession with fresh honey ginger rosemary lemonade (preferably with bourbon). I’m a pro at simple syrup by now. A cup of sugar, a cup of water, and a big handful of roughly chopped mint went into a pan over medium-high heat. I stirred the sweetness over the heat until the sugar dissolved, gave it another minute or so, then moved the pan off of the heat. I put a lid on the pan and forgot about it while the minty goodness steeped into the sugar-water.

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Once the pan had cooled off, I strained the mint leaves out of the syrup, and then I added the mint syrup to the lemon juice. Instead of plain water, I added sparkling water for a bubbly kick. I tossed in a couple of lemon slices, gave the whole thing a stir, and let my mint lemonade get nice and cool in the fridge. The herby, sweet-mint flavor with fresh lemonade is completely refreshing. How easy was that?

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For happy hour, I made a mojito with a twist– vodka instead of the traditional light rum, lemon instead of lime. First, I muddled some fresh mint leaves in the bottom of a glass using the back of a wooden spoon. (Note to self: buy proper muddler.)

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I filled the glass with some ice and added vodka. Look how American my (Swedish) vodka is!

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Next, I filled the glass with mint lemonade, added a pretty little garnish, and took a sip. Minty, tart, fresh, juicy- now THAT’S summer.

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Make this drink the next time your day looks like this.

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Sunshine in a Glass

For the mint lemonade, you’ll need:

  • 1 ½-2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (depending on tartness)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 handful mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups sparkling water (adjust amount to taste)
  • A few slices of lemon

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine water, sugar, and mint leaves. Stir over the heat until the sugar dissolves. Allow to simmer gently for about a minute. Remove from heat, cover the pan, and let cool completely. Strain out and discard the mint leaves.

In a pitcher, combine the lemon juice, mint simple syrup, and the sparkling water. Add lemon slices and chill before serving.

For each Sunshine in a Glass cocktail-

In a cocktail glass, muddle a couple of fresh mint leaves. Fill the glass ¾ full of ice. Add a shot of vodka (amount to your preference) and fill the rest of the glass with mint lemonade. Garnish with a lemon slice and drink in the sunshine under a big, blue sky. YUM!

**Find a list of recipes (and adventures in the kitchen) on the FOOD BLISS link above!**

7 replies »

  1. OH, we are making this!!! The weather here was so perfect today. If only I could freeze this weather in time and keep it with me through the future muggy, hot days of mid-summer… I guess making up some light and refreshing cocktails might be the closest thing to doing just that 🙂

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