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The past couple of weeks have been a crazy time in the kitchen for me.  I’ve started drying herbs for the winter, made some kimchi with napa cabbage and garlic scape, cleaned and froze some strawberries for later use, and I made some lavender sugar.  The day before summer solstice, we foraged for young, green, black walnuts which have been soaking for several days in water that has to be changed twice daily to get rid of the bitterness and will eventually be turned into preserves.  (Look for my article about it in the July issue of Voice.)  In addition, I finally bought an ice cream maker attachment for my stand mixer.  My fear that it would make me into an ice cream eating machine was abated by the fact that it actually took at least a day to make a small batch.

Foraged Berries & Wildflowers

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A wonderful thing to do in early summer is to forage for wild berries.  I went to check on my favorite rambling area, the Merry Christmas Mine Hill in Mineral Point.  I was delighted to see a Cottontail rabbit on the path two seconds before it disappeared into a thick patch of clover and milkweed.  The first batch of blackcaps and red raspberries were ready to be picked along with some black and white mulberries.  White mulberries was a new discovery for me last year.  They are pretty delicate and slightly sweet, sort of like the white part of a strawberry without any hint of tartness.  I also couldn’t help but pick a bouquet of wildflowers which consisted of yarrow, asters, black-eyed Susan, and a striking lily type called spiderwort (purple with three petals and six stamen).  I was pretty pleased that I did not get any mosquito bites nor wounds from the berry thorns.  Like last year, I decided to make some syrup with the berries to use in cocktails for the season.

Before cooking it with sugar, I soaked the berries in cold water for a least half an hour.  It is a good way to coax the little bugs out of hiding and get rid of debris.  Luckily, we have gotten so many rainstorms that it has been agitating the bugs off of the fruits.  I added some lavender and lemon to it to give it a little kick of tartness and an herby floral hit.  I love mixing herbs and fruits together.  Some combinations that I’m looking forward to testing are tarragon-strawberry and raspberry-rose.  Last year, raspberry-thyme was well received by my friends but I’m always looking to experiment.  Keith sometimes gets very sad when I make something really delicious because more often than not, I will never make it the same way again.  It makes for an exciting life, right?

Wild Berries Infused with Lavender

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Below was our first summer cocktail.  My favorite kind of drink is usually gin based (made with Death’s Door Gin to be exact).  I know it looks a little crazy but I have been inspired by Lottie Muir’s book called Wild Cocktails that I got as a birthday present from some very dear friends.  It has gin, wild berry syrup, sparkling water and decorated with red clover, yarrow, lavender, chamomile, raspberries, and white mulberries. Cheers!

The “Love is Love”

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Here’s a bonus sunset for you.  If you want to see another bonus shot, keep scrolling down.

Misty Sunset

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This is Missy the goat with her baby called Edelweiss.  One of the perks of living in a rural area and being a teacher is getting invited by students to see their animals.  How could I resist when a kid says “Miss Leslie, please come over to my house for piano lessons so you can meet our baby goat.  We also have pot bellied pigs and a baby donkey!”

Ciao!

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