MINTED Nothing says summer like the taste of fresh mint.
If you grow mint, you have to take care. It is one of those canablising, colonizing plants that will take over the universe! If you have loads of garden space, letting it take over certain patches might not be the worst thing ever. We have a big garden with heavy ‘dobe’ clay. Rushes want to live here.
Ten years ago, the Brunette – who says she should now become the Grey-Haired Person! – allowed a load of mint grow wild in an effort to suppress rushes. We now have abundance. The mint is fragrant – the air smells of it. Bees love it.
According to my vegetarian household members, this has got to be a total secret, kept from all hungry chefs. Our two pet lambs are daily fed kilos of the stuff by Penny and Louis. Will we be able to eat the pet lambs when the time comes…?
Anyone for tea?
If you can get them, you can grow mint from seeds. To keep it under control, you can grow seedlings in a flowerpot. Then place it, still in pot, in a hole in your garden. The supermarkets sometimes have mint plants in pots – move them into a bigger pot and bury them in a flower bed, still in the pot, and see how you go.
Fresh mint tea is one of the loveliest things you can drink. Anytime. If you have a tummy ache, it can be a real help. Scald a teapot, put in about four long sprigs of mint, add boiling water, allow it draw ’til the flavour is how you like it. Sugar or no, it’s up to you.
Or make a lemonade-type drink. Tap or fizzy water, cold; a few deep squeezes of lemon or lime – probably two to three to a litre depending on taste; a few spoonful’s of sugar – again according to taste; some ice; and maybe five to ten mint leaves – again, down to individual taste.
Soda fruit loaf
And now for something totally different. In these strange days, sometimes it’s just too much to have to cook.
One of my great food-loving friends has told me she’d rather have Rice Krispies at lunch than cook a meal. I feel her pain. She then told me this amazing thing she had for dinner one night: a white soda loaf with mixed peel left over from Christmas, served with lashings of jam and whisked cream.
This recipe is a bit makeshift – but, in these days, way to go! Fire in whatever you have, such as mixed peel, currants, raisins… anything sweet and sugary.
This can be made in a loaf tin or as a traditional soda round.
What you need
- 450g plain flour
- 50g butter
- 200g dried fruit
- 1tspn bread soda
- 2 tbsp milk
- 350ml buttermilk (or ordinary full-fat milk with half a lemon squeezed in)
- Pinch of salt
What you do
Preheat the oven to 150°c. In a roomy bowl, sieve in the flour, bread soda and salt. Then cream in the butter. Mix in the dried fruit. Add in the buttermilk and combine until you have moist, sticky dough.
Put the dough into a buttered 2lb tin or flatten out into a round greased, lightly floured cake tin. For the former, lightly cut a line in the dough from head to toe of the tin. For the latter, lightly cut a cross (X) into the dough. Brush the dough with a light coating of milk to achieve a golden colour.
Bake for around one hour and ten minutes, or until it smells ready or when bread sounds hollow when tapping the bottom. Cool on a rack. Enjoy!
> Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.