Sunday, November 02, 2008

WHB #156 - mint

I wake to a bright Sunday morning. The early light streams into the lounge room and I find myself up at a ridiculously early hour (one that begins with 7) slavishly writing my morning pages, surrounded by three contented cats and the sound of birds singing. These spring days are golden. The weather is still unpredictable – with sunshine, thunder, lightening and hail all in the same week, or even day. But this time of year flecked with green is special, before summer gets you by the throat and the land becomes parched.

The garden is in flux. Today is the day we intend to rip out the last remnants of our winter vegetable bed (silverbeet will be on the menu tonight) and rebuild the soil to plant a few tomatoes and maybe strawberries after then next bout of hoped for rain. Most of my herbs are in pots these days, easier to keep the thirsty plants alive with the clean kitchen wastewater. The happiest with this frequent dampening routine is mint. With every watering it flourishes.

I love to drink fresh mint tea but don’t cook with it often. I relish mixing it into Asian salads, with coriander, Vietnamese mint and fish sauce. But with such an abundance of the herb I don’t use it nearly enough.

Morning writing finished, my rumbling tummy brings me back to the present, I know I need food, an appropriate first meal to honour the day. The fruit bowl represents the juxtaposition of seasons, winter apples and oranges meeting tropical mangoes and bananas. I dreamt last night of bananas growing in Wellington, not as they should do but on a vine instead. Not sure weather to blame fears of global warming or all the muffins I have been eating for that one. Regardless I take it as a sign that this herb, commonly regarded as a fruit, will feature in breakfast today.

To greet the new day I make a fruit salad featuring mint, toasted coconut and cashews. The mint gives it a taste of summer.

Trans-seasonal fruit salad
(Serves 2)

1 mango, diced
1 –2 bananas, sliced
1 pink lady apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 orange, skin removed sliced or in segments
1 handful of cashew nuts
1 handful of shredded coconut
fresh mint
lime juice

Prepare your fruit, feel free to vary the ingredients with what you have available, though the mango and banana work best with coconut.

Place a heavy bottomed pan on high heat and carefully toast the cashews, shaking the pan frequently til brown (you may notice that I hurried mine a little too much), remove the nuts and add the coconut. If the pan is still hot just swirl the shreds around off the heat and you will see them toast before your eyes, so be vigilant. Remove from the pan to ensure they don’t continue cooking.

Mix the fruit, coconut and cashews together in a bowl. Shred some fresh mint and add a squeeze of lime. Stir gently.

Eat immediately.

The mint family is a large clan with many variations. Medicinally Mentha piperita is favoured for its cooling, carminative properties. A steaming hot cup of peppermint tea can help clear the sinuses and settle a troubled stomach or racing mind. It is the perfect way to finish a fatty or spicy meal.

I also love mint in it’s many incarnations in laksa, green mango salad, prawn and noodle stir fries and as a refreshing summer drink muddled with lime juice, sugar and soda water.

This post celebrates Weekend Herb Blogging’s third birthday and is hosted by it’s founder Kalyn at Kalyn’s Kitchen - congratulations, what an amazing gift this weekly feature has been.

From next week Haalo, a fellow Melbournite, will be taking the reigns to care for this much loved event. Thanks again Kalyn for creating and nurturing Weekend Herb Blogging for these three years.

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Blogger docwitch said...

That looks sensational! Everything in that salad floats my boat. Perfect for the season.

You know, at the risk of sounding even more unhinged than I usually sound, I actually had a dream about bananas growing in Wellington 2 nights ago. I kid you not. Wooooo.
And I woke up feeling very anxious. I mean, bananas don't grow in Welli as you say.

2:04 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

The collective unconscious is a spooky thing!

3:00 pm  

mint is one of the mainstays in the standard greek herb collection: i can never have enough growing in my garden

4:18 pm  
Anonymous Lucy said...

I blame the muffins, personally.

Yum salad.

But is it as yum as the Mauritian pickles, I wonder? Having just devoured an entire jar in various ways, I'm thinking you're on a bit of roll at the 'mo.

4:54 pm  
Anonymous Duncan | syrupandtang said...

Oh yes, definitely very yum! My mint patch is flourishing too:)

7:55 pm  
Blogger Kalyn said...

I think that fruit, mint, and lime is one of the great cooking trios (right up there with potato-carrot-onion, or tomato-basil-garlic!) This sounds delicious. Love to eat this any early morning.

11:52 pm  

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