Not spearmint, or chocolate mint, or anything else with a fancy name - just old-fashioned garden mint.
Unlike rosemary, mint loves to get its feet into a bit of water now and then. Like rosemary, though, it is tough once established and will go on and on - and all through the garden, if not contained. So, for this gardener’s peace of mind and the mint’s good health, I keep it a pot. Big pot, sitting in a deep bowl that can be partly filled with water if the gardener is going away for a few days. Recently I forgot to do that, and the mint looked rather sad when I came home (ie dead). But I gave it a haircut and a dose of ¼-strength seaweed emulsion, and within a week it was shooting away again.
Mint and rosemary, both strong and aromatic, can be used interchangeably in recipes for sweets and meats, but with quite a different end effect on flavour. Think roast lamb; yoghurt marinated lamb chops; fruit salad; garden salad - each with a touch of mint or hint of rosemary. Both work. I love mint because the smell reminds me of my grandmother. One of my earliest memories is of watching her make mint sauce, rocking the knife back and forth across the mint which she had covered with sugar so the leaves would bruise and crush, releasing maximum flavour.
Strip leaves from several sprigs of garden mint and place on a chopping board. Add 1- 2 teaspoons sugar, and chop the mint through the sugar until finely shredded and bruised. Put this sticky, minty mix into a small jug with ¼ teaspoon salt, and cover with 20 ml boiling water. Stir until sugar has dissolved and top up with ¼ -½ cup brown or malt vinegar. Taste. Add more salt if needed. Will keep indefinitely in fridge, but mint sauce takes only a minute to do and tastes best when freshly made.
MINT and YOGHURT MARINADE
This is a quick-and-easy idea for adding zest to a pair of BBQ stalwarts - the good ol’ Aussie lamb chop and fillet of chicken breast, both of which can easily become a tad dry when done on the barbecue. Plan ahead and marinate overnight if possible, or for a few hours on the morning of feasting. When barbecued (grilled or pan-fried), the marinade forms a crispy crust. Also excellent for oven-baking, and makes enough for 6 portions.
To 1 cup plain yoghurt add 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel, 1 or 2 cloves crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper, 2 teaspoons plain flour and as much roughly chopped garden mint as you wish. Mix well. Spread generously over both sides of lamb or chicken. Place in single layer and refrigerate until 30 minutes before cooking.
MINT and YOGHURT DIP
Very easy. As above, without the flour (and minus the meat, of course). Great to take on a picnic with a crusty loaf.
Next: We'll be down on the farm for breakfast with birds
Written and compiled by two frogs.