I need to remember that no matter how weird things get around here they can always, and probably will, get weirder. Unfortunately, the last couple weeks have been peppered with some of life’s less pleasant moments. One of them, I will share with you in a future post.* The other two things I’m going to whine about right here and now.
*Not to sound mysterious or anything, but we’re waiting on a piece of information before we talk about it here… Stay tuned for further whining…
First, I spent Saturday at the Urgent Care department with little Rowan whilst the kind medical staff did their best to extract a self-administered beanbag bead from his ear. Rowan was as brave as could be; He clenched his teeth and balled up his little fists and his big blue eyes teared up; He was such a courageous little guy that it made me forget how irritated and worried I was that he had stuck the ball in his ear in the first place. But he let the doctors and nurses do their thing, and in the end, after applying several jet propelled streams of water and the world’s teensiest vacuum to his ear, the offending polystyrene ball was removed. When all was said and done, his ear felt better and he reveled in the attention from his concerned older brothers. He spent the evening repeatedly telling them how the doctor had done THIS* to his ear.
*Insert the best imitation of you’ve ever heard Niagara Falls as done by a three-year-old here. There was a great deal of spittle involved.
Second, my three best egg-layer hens were absconded with by some nefarious, and as yet undetermined, wild critter. Last Thursday, when we went to feed the chickens, we discovered that some beastie had stolen into our chicken run and coop and made off with Menya and Halgerda, a Buff Orpington and Barred Rock, respectively. The only sign of what had happened to our birds was a clearly marked trail of feathers leading out under the fence. We were perplexed and went to bed that night not knowing quite what to do. When we awoke the next morning we discovered that the vermin had come back and taken Inga, a White Rock, too.
Boo and hiss, people. We not only love the eggs we get from these birds but we love them, too. If you’ve never spent time just watching chickens you’re seriously missing out on one of life’s simple pleasures. Each one of these birds has a name and a distinct personality and will be missed both for the food they provided us and their companionship. R.I.P. Menya, Halgerda and Inga. We have since turned our coop and run into the Ford Knox of chicken dwelling places. So far, the rest of the birds are safe.
Thor, our rooster, has had his harem reduced and is looking a little depressed;
Just look at that drooping tail feather.
Thor! Show some rooster pride, man up and protect the rest of your gals; That’s why we put up with you trying to spur us every time we feed you, for cryin’ in a bucket.
That’s more like it!
…Now, does anyone recognize these tracks?
These, we think, belong to our chicken-killer. But there’s a mystery involved. While method of the chickens’ demise would suggest a fox, the tracks left behind would suggest a raccoon. Any ideas?
On the bright side, while we were combing the brush behind the chicken coop to try to find traces of our beloved girls, we found a hidden monster patch of mint. And in the grand and time-honored spirit of filling any voids in my life with food, I decided to do something with it.
Enter Jalapeno Mojito Syrup. Everyone has heard of mojitos, right? Oh sure, they’re delicious with their lime and their mint and their ice and their rum. It’s a concept that’s practically perfect in every way much like Mary Poppins. *
*I love ‘Mary Poppins’. I really do.
Sidebar: Can you imagine if Mary Poppins had tippled a few mojitos? Hey! Now there’s a thought! There probably would’ve been more of this:
…And less of this…
I do like a classic mojito -mint leaves muddled with simple syrup, lime, and rum- but I also like variations on the theme. When the mercury spikes and the humidity rises, there are few things more refreshing than a mojito slushy -mint leaves, ice, lime juice, rum and simple syrup blasted through the blender to make the ultimate ‘adults only’ freezer drink. But whether you’re a mojito purist or a mojito visionary, you’re bound to appreciate this spectacular mojito flavored syrup that takes advantage not only of the classic mint and lime mojito combination, but of the fruity flavor and ever-so-subtle kick of heat provided by a fresh jalapeno pepper.
If you abstain from alcohol, this syrup is a refreshing and delicious addition to a tall glass of iced tea or club soda. It also serves as the base to a show-stopping limeade. Anyway you mix it, this syrup lifts your drink to a higher level of deliciousness*.
*That’s a technical cooking term, you know.
Jalapeno Mojito Syrup can be used anywhere a simple syrup is required, so don’t just stick with beverages. The possibilities are fantastic; Brush it on cake layers to keep them moist, make rock candy or poach fruit with this elixer.
For this batch of syrup, I removed the seeds because I only wanted a background, barely perceptible heat so it would be more versatile. If you’re up for some adventure, leave the seeds in your halved jalapeno pepper for an added burst of heat with your flavor. Either way it’s danged good.
For a photo-free, printer friendly version of the recipe, click here!
Jalapeno Mojito Syrup
- 2 cups fresh mint leaves, washed
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups water
- the zest and juice of 1 whole lime
- 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, washed and stemmed
Add mint leaves and sugar to a medium-sized non-reactive saucepan.
Press gently with the back of a spoon, add the water, lime zest and lime juice and stir several times. Set aside.
Place your stemmed jalapeno pepper on a cutting board and cut in half from end to end. *Friendly reminder: If you are sensitive to hot peppers or aren’t sure, save yourself some grief and wear a gloves when working with them!
Use the tip of a teaspoon to remove the seeds from the pepper.
Add the pepper to the pan.
Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for three minutes, turn off the heat and put a tight fitting lid on the pan.
Leave the syrup to steep with the lid on for fifteen minutes. While syrup steeps, place a fine mesh strainer (or cheesecloth) in a funnel in a jar or bottle that has a tight fitting lid or into a measuring cup.
When time is up, remove pan lid. This is what you’ll be looking at. What you’ll be smelling is simply heavenly!
Pour the syrup through the strainer.
Store, tightly lidded, in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Tune back in tomorrow to see what mixological feats of derring-do I perform with the syrup.*
*Translation from Nerd to English: I’m doing something crazy delicious and unorthodox with this and alcohol tomorrow. Come back if you want in on the fun.