It is October 11th 2011 and officially a high of 27 Celsius today, for you fahrenheit-ers that would be about 81 degrees. Cool mornings moving into hot and sunny afternoons with perfectly blue skies. These are the kind of perfect ‘summer’ days to be spent outside hiking in mountains, late out-door barbecues, picnics and days playing in the ocean waves. One of my favorite places to go for a long weekend on the Atlantic Ocean is the Basque Country, or in French called the Pays Basque. With its moderate and oceanic climate, this region has a very long rainy season and stays very lush and green. This region which lies within northern Spain and south-western France is bursting full of culture. Not only do they speak their own language (Basque) but they also have their own cuisine based on local agriculture, the houses are all painted in green, red and white, and they even have their own sport called Basque Pelota.
Making homemade lemonade is perfect for these summer days and it is so easy, delicious and cheap to prepare. And let us be honest, they taste SO much better than the cheap store-bought ones. For this one I have chosen to use a mix of limes and lemons, a handful of fresh mint from our herb garden and a bit of fresh ground ginger. The citrus and ginger also make for an excellent detox drink!
Fresh mint is very easy to cultivate and will grow in many different environments. The leaves have a pleasant sweet flavor with a cool aftertaste. No wonder so many cultures have incorporated this aromatic herb into not only their cuisine but also many beverages. In fact, in Damascus Syria and all over Turkey mint-lemonade is a popular everyday beverage.
Known as a delicacy, medicine or spice, ginger root adds a hot fragrant spice which blends quite nicely with mint and adds a very subtle flavor. Ginger has many believed medical properties however is most commonly know for its stomach settling properties.
-3 lemons and 2 limes.
-3 sprigs of fresh mint
-1/2 inch of peeled fresh ginger root.
-3-4 Tbs of light brown sugar/ or 2 Tbs of honey or agave nectar
Easy-peasy directions: Find a glass pitcher, drop in your fresh mint sprigs and peeled ginger, pour in about two cups of hot water and let steep. Cut limes and lemons in halves and juice with an electric or manual juice press. (I use an old red plastic one passed down in the family and it works great). Pour the fresh pressed juice and sugar into the pitcher. Mix. Then fill up the rest of the pitcher with cold water. Before placing it in the fridge to chill, do I quick taste check and add more sugar if needed.
Now all there is left is to enjoy!