A cool rainy afternoon is a cookie baking afternoon at our house. A time for ruminating in the kitchen over a delicious, comforting delicacy. Because the heat of summer has been so intense this year, I know we must seize this particular cool afternoon... it could be the last one like it for a while.
Out to the moist green mint patch we go, scissors in hand to harvest the best part of our cookie, fragrant stems of fresh peppermint. Like a bit of musty earth magic this lush mint patch comes back each year to gift us with both pleasure and health. It needs little assistance from us as it grows each year to a fragrant loveliness that is unparalleled elsewhere along our south fence. We harvest mint continually through out the summer to make delicious yummy treats. Because mint is so healthy it is good adding it to all kinds of foods to boost nutritional value and flavor.
In our patch we find deep green lobed leaves emerging opposite of each other from square stems. That is right, square stems! Square stems and opposite leaves are characteristic of all mint family members, which means a plant that fits this description is very likely related to mint. Plants like basil, lavender, and sage all have square stems with opposite leaves. It is fun to twirl the stem between fingers feeling for all four distinct corners. We harvest the stems in just a way so as to encourage the mint to grow compact instead of stretching high to the sky thus becoming long and leggy. By cutting the stem right above a pair of leaves, the plant makes use of dormant buds waiting atop each leaf and like magic, grows two whole new stems where there once was just one. The mint then becomes bushy and seems to maintain its happiness as the heat of summer intensifies.
Back into the kitchen with our lush parcel of herbs, the mint tickles our noses with its delightful scent. Garbling the mint, I look through the bundle and remove anything that is not supposed to go into our cookies: buggy faded leaves, other plants that had made their way into our mint patch and been plucked inadvertently or anything else I don't want in our tasty confection. The kids watch me impatiently waiting to get down to some real cookie baking.
Fairy Crowns and Wands
As I am sorting through the mint, I hand Violet a big leafy stem, " would you like a fairy wand?"
"Oh yes please!" Violet exclaims.
"Can I have one too?" Nyssa wants to know.
Off they go to play while I finish cleaning up the mint.
The kids are busy casting spells while sniffing their peppermint. A simple stem can be a wand or woven together multiple peppermint stems turn into fancy fairy wands and lovely garland crowns. This is a very sensory filled craft project which for a child in the right mood, can provide hours of creativity and play. Adding dandelions, roses, hollyhocks or any other beauty from nature only makes these toys more magical. Lace and long trailing ribbons are fanciful additions.
While they play Nyssa dances by and reminds me of another favorite and simple way to use mint when she asks to make her own mint water. Herbal waters are one of the simplest and most delicious ways to use fresh herbs. This is a great way to harness the cooling properties that peppermint offers during the heat of the summer. Simply place a stem or two of plant material in a glass of water, wait a bit and then enjoy a subtle but very tasty drink that harnesses peppermint's cooling properties. Create herbal waters with many other fresh herbs like lemon balm, lemon thyme, hyssop, pineapple sage, and even basil! Really any tasty herb that strikes your fancy is the perfect choice.
Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
Now for the cookies. With the girls back in the kitchen,we start pulling leaves off the clean and sorted mint stems. Making a big pile, I give the girls each a pair of kid scissors and ask them to snip the leaves into little bits. As they do this I begin to assemble our baking ingredients. Being an extreme chocolate lover, almost every cookie I bake has chocolate in some form or another. For these cookies I just find a great recipe for chocolate chip cookies and add the fresh mint. Any favorite recipe can be used. I like to be sure of using the best of organic ingredients: whole grain flour (usually wheat and barley), butter or coconut oil are delicious, the darkest chocolate chips, turbinado sugar and homemade vanilla extract. I like to use a lot of mint, usually about 1 to 2 cups added to whatever chocolate chip cookie recipe we are using.
The amazing news is that peppermint is not only yummy but also safe to use and very nutritional being high in vitamins and minerals. Plus with many wonderful medicinal properties that support digestive health, relax the nervous system and relieve spasms peppermint makes it a great addition to treats for family and friends. Simply amazing!
Well, the cookies came out perfect. Flecks of green a mist gooey chocolatey chunks melting in our mouths as we giggle and savor the perfect afternoon.
Shared On: Foodie Friends Friday