Cornucopia, Ch 5
I was off by a week. My first CSA share arrives next week, not this one. Like a NASA launch engineer frustrated by a lingering low pressure storm, I’m feeling disappointed by the rescheduling. I was ready for a box of produce bounty. What’s a disappointed CSA shareholder to do?
Have a stiff drink.
Even in the face of this non-calamitous calamity, I have options. Standing in my kitchen, staring at the counter where my CSA box will eventually rest, I look out of my back window. The herb planter is producing.
It’s been a tough couple of weeks for our herb pots. Too much rain and not enough heat and sun. The rosemary died straight off but then rosemary prefers a dry, warm climate. Regular Minnesota rain isn’t rosemary’s friend.
The thyme, oregano and basil are hanging on. Again, too much rain has threatened to drown these three but they are climate compatible. These herbs are not only alive, they’re gamely growing. Especially, the basil.
With basil, a bottle of Prairie Organic vodka from Benson, Minnesota, and terrific intentions, I turned disappointment into a gimlet.
A gimlet is pure booze, cut with lime-flavored syrup and served over ice. Gin or vodka are the standard choices. To really make a basil vodka gimlet fly, concoct basil-lemon syrup first, substituting for the traditional lime juice. Combine one cup of packed basil leaves, one cup of water, a half cup of sugar and couple of strips of lemon zest in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let stand for an hour. Strain into a clean bottle or jar, discarding the solids. Refrigerate.
Once you have basil-lemon syrup, you’re ready for the basil vodka gimlet. And, since you’ve gone to the trouble of making syrup, make a pitcher of gimlets rather than a single serving. Combine the cup of basil-lemon syrup with a cup of vodka, ½ cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and a cup of ice. Stir until chilled. Serve over a half glass of ice. Or, more perfectly, into a chilled cocktail glass without the additional ice. Garnish with a fresh basil sprig and a curled strip of lemon zest.
Finally, play Wolverines Big Band jazz on the hi-fi, kick back on the deck and savor the gimlet. It takes some of the sting out of a CSA share-less week.