Before I started gardening, I used to think winter squash referred to the squash that grew over winter. Only after harvesting my very first “winter” squash did I realize all the pumpkins, hubbards, butternuts, and turbans that arrived at the turn of cool weather actually took three or four months to get there!
If you’ve made my lemongrass-ginger syrup, you’re probably wondering what else you can do with it besides pouring bottomless lemongrass-ginger ales. (Not that there’s anything wrong with bottomless lemongrass-ginger ales!)
So, how about a spritzy white sangria filled with all of our favorite flavors of summer: tangy lemongrass, zippy ginger, juicy peach, and a hearty handful of fragrant basil.
I grow a few different varieties of strawberries (as well as blueberries and other berries) but the stars of all my summer berries, hands down, are the Yellow Wonder alpine strawberries (Fragaria vesca).
Alpine strawberries are just about the most perfect patio plant you could hope for. Green, lush, prolific, and full of melt-in-your-mouth berries bursting with a flavor that’s hard to pin down. I liken them to cotton candy, but with added notes of pineapple and rose. They’re complex and intensely aromatic. They’re full of sweetness and lack the tartness of commercially grown strawberries which, in my opinion, prove that bigger is not always better.
1. One of my favorite things about summer. (There are four or five varieties of tomatoes in there!)
Of all the cookbook shoots Will and I worked on over the course of five months, the two weeks that we spent in Northern California this past spring were among my favorite… and mostly because it felt like we were vacationing, not working.
I mean, when your office for the week is on top of Mount Tamalpais, there’s not much to complain about.
I think Iman is hiding eggs from me again. She likes to do that a few times a year, and seeking out her stash becomes an Easter egg hunt as the hubby and I scour the chickens’ 2,500 square feet of foraging space for their secret nest. (Last summer’s search yielded almost a dozen eggs!)
So I was very confused the other day after I skipped a day of egg collecting and, in three different locations, ended up finding an Iman egg, a Kimora egg, and a mystery egg that looked like a bantam had come and laid it for us.
I propagated a few store-bought lemongrass stalks a few years ago when I first moved into my house, and every year since then, they’ve been the gift that keeps on giving, year round. Each little lemongrass plant (which began its life as a clump of three rooted stalks) has grown into a wild-looking shrub with dozens of thick, juicy, citrusy stalks. And maybe I’m biased, but I feel homegrown lemongrass far outflavor the ones you can find in the store (especially since you can use the lemongrass leaves as well).
Needless to say, we make a lot of meals with lemongrass around here. My husband is king of marinated lemongrass chicken, and I like to drop a few stalks into the broth for my slow-cooked Vietnamese pulled pork tacos. In the winter, we’re all about lemongrass-infused tea. In the summer (and with our heat wave this past week), we do flavored fizzy drinks with a versatile lemongrass-ginger syrup. It’s lemony and spicy and wakes the senses. It also adds a little (or a lot of) zing to iced teas, hot teas, margaritas, mojitos, Prosecco, and Dark and Stormy cocktails.
But on most afternoons, you’ll find me on our sunny porch with two jars by my side: a jar of lemongrass-ginger syrup and a jar of lemongrass-ginger ale on the rocks!