Yesterday, I ate leftover quinoa for breakfast, outside in the morning sun with bare feet.
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.
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.
Oh, and refreshing cocktails made with vodka and homemade mint lemonade. They are basically SUNSHINE, in a glass!
A while back, I took notes from my dear friend Nancy and froze fresh lemon juice in an ice cube tray. Remember that?
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.
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.
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?
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.)
I filled the glass with some ice and added vodka. Look how American my (Swedish) vodka is!
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.
Make this drink the next time your day looks like this.
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!**