Monday, June 8, 2009

Landover Lemonade

Growing up in southern Maryland, I had the benefit of living within a few miles of a couple of "pick your own" farms. Although at the time I considered them more "stand out in the hot sun and sweat your ass off while picking food you could buy in an air conditioned grocery store" farms, it did mean that we often had extremely fresh produce available on the table almost all of the time. Silver Queen Corn, squash, strawberries, peppers, melons of all kinds - whatever was coming out of the ground that week was finding its way onto our plates (of course, so were Ho-Hos and Hamburger Helper - my Mom was no agro-food hippie, to say the least).

Recently my wife (a post-punk agro-food postmodern hippie) and I bought a share in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm in PG County. It's essentially the same concept, except you pre-purchase the food, and for your share, you get a certain amount of whatever is fresh that week. We have had strawberries, garlic scallions, turnips, kale, lettuce, rhubarb, bok choi, and a number of other veggies and fruits so far. You are also allowed unlimited cuttings from their herb garden and access to some pick your own fields for free (we cleaned up on strawberries the first week - made a yummy strawberry rhubarb pie). So we head down there every Saturday to pick up our share.

Next to the spot where we pick up our share, there is a huge mulberry tree which Noe started picking berries from the first week. Having done some infusions lately, I decided doing a mulberry infusion would be a neat idea - hadn't seen that done before, and it was free, so why not? I had also picked a bunch of mint, and since mulberries have a pretty mild taste, I figured combining the two would be a cool thing to try out. I poured out some Stoli, added the berries and mint, and closed it up to infuse.

Turns out it only took a day for the vodka to take on a gorgeous purply-blue color and for the mint aroma and taste to infuse itself into the vodka. When infusing you don't want to let the ingredients go bad for obvious reasons, and mint and mulberries have a pretty short shelf life. So I had my mulberry-mint vodka - now what to make with it?

On Sunday afternoon, I went to a Nationals game with some friends. My buddy Brian went to grab us some beers, but as it was the 8th inning, they had stopped beer sales (why? WHY???). He brought lemonade back instead, and I think we both thought of the same thing simultaneously - that mulberry stuff would work great with lemonade! I can confirm that this is indeed the case - all of the flavors work really well together, and no ingredient overpowers any of the others. On a really hot day, a pitcher of these would be just the ticket.

As far as I know this is an original recipe. I am not married to the name, so if there are alternate suggestions, I am open to them (Suz really wants Bobbo Palmer, referencing the classic Arnie Palmer drink consisting of half iced tea and half lemonade - I'm just not feelin' it). No matter what you call it, it's pretty damned tasty.

Landover Lemonade

2 oz mulberry and mint infused vodka
4 oz lemonade
lemon rind for garnish

Fill highball glass with ice to chill. Add vodka and lemonade to a Boston shaker half filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds, and strain into highball glass. Add lemon twist for garnish.

Mulberry and Mint Infused Vodka

4 - 6 oz of fresh mulberries
1 bunch fresh mint
375 ml vodka

Wash berries and mint, and place into an airtight container. Add vodka and let infuse overnight. Strain vodka through a coffee filter or paper towel, discarding solids. Place vodka in an airtight container and keep for up to 2 weeks.

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