The greatest joy for a backyard gardener is the sense of accomplishment you feel when those seeds you planted months ago finally start looking like the vegetables you know and love. Many moons past (ok, let's say six or seven), I constructed a raised bed garden in my parents' backyard. And while I had not planned on being around at present to reap the fruits of my labors, I now find myself reveling in the arugula and lettuces, while waiting impatiently for the peas, garlic, carrots, beans, and kale to mature. Moveover, I will be planting broccoli, rapini, beets, cucumbers, and a variety of squashes as soon as our new beds build themselves...hehe...
We purchased most of our seeds from a local nursery, or I saved them from winter squashes and the borlotti beans from the Italian farm. Seeds are little pockets of life, with the nutrients a new plant needs to get started in the world. It boggles my mind that a carrot will result from a tiny little dot of a seed or a head of garlic from a single clove! Although many large seed companies put patents on their genetically modified seeds - the genetic code falling under intellectual property rights - organizations like the Organic Seed Alliance try to promote the use of heirloom and new varieties, and perpetuate the magic of our floral diversity.
Ah, but enough of these silly, sappy, musings. Let's talk about pies and herbs. This month's theme for You Want Pies with That is Summer Drink Pie! Oh my goodness, oh my goodness - the possibilities are endless (and often intoxicating). So even though it's not sunny summer here yet, I took inspiration from a classic summery drink and the spearmint growing in a pot outside my front door.
Mint Mojito Pie
Mint Ice "Cream"
1 14oz can lite coconut milk
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup rum
2 cups packed mint leaves (spearmint is good, or another variety, but I wouldn't use peppermint)
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbs tapioca starch
1. Heat milks in saucepan until simmering. Remove from heat, add mint, and let steep for at least an hour. Strain mint leaves and press out remaining mint "juice."
2. Mix a little of the milk with the starch in a separate bowl until a paste. Add back to the milk with sugar and rum. Heat over medium heat until beginning to boil and thicken.
3. Cool completely and refrigerate. Churn in ice cream machine according to the instructions and freeze until ready to use.
Lime Cookie Crust
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Juice and zest of one lime
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbs tapioca starch
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup cookie crumbs
1/4 cup oil
2 tbs applesauce
2 tsp lime juice
2 tbs agave nectar
1. Mix wet ingredients with a whisk until smooth. Add in dry ingredients until well-incorporated.
2. Scoop golf-ball size bits of dough onto a cookie sheet and flatten. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until just starting to brown.
3. Food-process cookies until very crumbly. Continue to process with oil, applesauce, lime juice, and agave until beginning to stick together.
4. Press crumb mixture into pie or tart pans. Fill with slightly softened ice cream. Freeze until very firm. Dig in, and enjoy this refreshing dessert with a nice, cool, mojito!
Coming up: rhubarb season and some gluten-free baking adventures!