So Happy Together

Ah, summer. This cucumber, mint, and tomato salad incorporates so many of POD’s favorite things:

6 oz. cherry tomatoes (in this case, Isis Candy, Black Cherry, and Gold Nugget)
5 cucumbers (in this case, boothby blonde and lemon cucumber)
mint
scant tbs. excellent balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt

Put da Chickie in de Pot

In honor of the Muppets’ 40th anniversary and in an attempt to flush a nasty head cold out of the house, a simple Portuguese lemon-mint soup made it on the menu. Let’s hear it for November minted mint.

Lemon-Mint Chicken Soup

Lemon-Mint Chicken Soup (very slightly adapted from David Leite’s The New Portuguese Table)

Serves 6-8

8 cups homemade chicken stock
1 1/2 lb bone-in chicken breasts, legs, or thighs, skin and fat removed
1/2 lemon
2/3 c. orzo
small rind of Parmesan cheese (optional, adds depth to stock)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into small dice
2 small turnips, peeled and cut into small dice (optional, they sounded tasty)
3 tbs fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
25 fresh mint leaves, stacked, rolled up lengthwise, and sliced razor-thin

1) Bring the stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and add the chicken and Parmesan rind. Gently simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let sit until the chicken is cooled through, 15-20 minutes.

2) Transfer the chicken to a plate to cool. Remove 1 strip of lemon zest and  add it to the pot with the orzo. Grate the rest of the zest and set aside. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat and cook, covered, until the orzo is tender, about 10 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

4) When the orzo is cooked, remove the zest and rind, add the shredded chicken and the vegetables to the pot and simmer for several minutes to warm. Turn off the heat, pour in the lemon juice, and stir. Season with salt and pepper.

5) Ladle the soup into bowls, scatter with the mint and reserved grated zest, and serve immediately, before the lemon loses its zing.

Toys!

Nothing says summer quite like nice sugar cone packed with mint chocolate chip ice cream. Or coffee ice cream. Or caramel ice cream. Or strawberry ice cream. Or…well, you get the idea.

About once every other summer or so, POD’s family would dust off the hand-churning antique ice cream maker, stuff the bucket full of ice and rock salt and crank until their arms screamed for mercy. That same maker moved from Michigan to Philly with POD and somehow, sadly, hasn’t been touched since. Okay, maybe once. But that’s it.

Finally, we dropped the $30 for a small electric ice cream maker.  Since then, cholesterol levels have skyrocketed and the freezer has been stuffed with salted caramel, mint chocolate chip (minus the food coloring), and strawberry ice cream.

What does this have to do with plants on deck? Mint.

mint ice cream base
mint ice cream base

Independent Spirits

It’s cocktail hour.

Philly's Bluecoat and Milwaukee's Rehorst
Philly's Bluecoat and Milwaukee's Rehorst

In honor of this fine July Fourth holiday weekend, independent distilleries, home-grown mint, and recent travels, POD offers you the Southside:

serves 2

4 ounces Rehorst (Milwaukee’s finest) or Bluecoat (Philly’s even better) Gin
1 ounce simple syrup
1 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
15 small mint leaves
5-8 drops cocktail bitters

Muddle the mint — squish with the back of a spoon — in a large cocktail shaker. Add plenty of ice and remaining ingredients. Shake until the shaker is nice and frosty and your pinkies hurt.  And then shake some more. Strain into a martini glass.