I thought I’d make up something light, cooling and refreshing for those of you who are experiencing warm weather already, or will soon enough. Here? Well, yesterday it was 75 F(24 C), today is another story….it’s 42 F(6 C) as I write. Wisconsin is like that…
A friend and I took a Sunday drive a few days ago- on Sunday in fact! It was one of those days that charm me to leave the city. A light mist was in the air, and, as you might know, that this can cause the familiar to suddenly look serene, a bit eerie, and well….unfamiliar. It occurred to me that the fog would be thicker- and hence, more dramatic- near the “big pond”: Lake Michigan. Having lived on the lakeshore for nearly three years taught me, at the least, these three things: 1.humid days bring foggy nights and mornings, so plan to go slow if you plan on going anywhere. 2. there are a lot of sand-polished stones, driftwood, and other odd finds on the beach, and 3. some of the best food to be had is in tiny towns situated at the crossings of winding back roads you never knew existed.
One such town is called Slovan. It literally is in the middle of nowhere, yet the town has for decades been well-known, from the Devil’s Door down to Two Rivers, and west to certain knowing residents around Green Bay. Its main attraction is a supper club which, besides serving great traditional local food, hosts spirited polka dances with live bands during the summer, and a good-sized dance hall built just for it. As they regularly have a famous Sunday brunch, I decided to call up a friend of mine, who I knew had been itching to go and sample their offerings…
So off we went, leisurely coasting along rural roads through the thickening mist, up and down rolling hills, gazing out at the shimmering air, at the the forests and farmland that vanished into grey in the distance, all of this lit by a silver sun shining in the eastern sky. A cow here and there appeared out of nowhere at the side of the road and disappeared just as quickly. But no time to stop and talk this morning. On and on we went.
When we arrived and pulled crunchily into the gravel-covered parking lot, I noticed at the far end, near a few scant trees, two cats: one black and one grey-striped, lolling about together at the far side of the lot. They seemed to be very happy about something. With my brow furrowed by curiosity, I parked the car and stepped out into the hazy sunlight, my friend lazily following. We stretched just a bit, closing the car-doors quietly. I checked my pockets out of habit for my wallet and keys and peered over at the cats. Their tails twitched contentedly, but they had not yet taken the slightest notice of us out-of-towners. I took a step toward them, then another, one foot slowly following the other. Crunch……. crunch….. crunch…….. cru… both cats suddenly turned toward me in unison, eyes bright, unblinking and inquisitive. I halted, and motioned for my friend to do the same. I blinked a “hello” to them, and bent down on my knees to beckon them over. With little hesitation they strolled over, sniffed my outstretched hand and gaily “marked” me with grins and whiskered cheeks. Obviously they had frequent human contact. They soon thought my friend was acceptable interactive material too….and after a few minutes of this giddy welcoming party, we figured out what the source of their joy was. They were one of each gender, and in deepest love with each other, gliding against each other across the gravel, circling, inseparable as they moved. We had a hard time breaking away from our new, amorous friends, but the mist was clearing in the strengthening sunlight, and we had a few dishes to investigate.
A Syrup of Spring Mist
2 C fresh-squeezed lime juice
the zest(green part only) of 6 limes or 1/4 C, whichever comes first
1 1/2 C white sugar, more or less, to taste
a 1″ piece of ginger, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 sprigs of spearmint, washed and bruised by squeezing gently
6 very thin slices of green chile
18 whole white peppercorns
a pinch of salt
a pinch of citric acid/sour salt
1)Place everything but the mint in a small pan and slowly bring to boil. Remove from heat and toss in mint. Cover pan with a lid and allow to stand until cool.
2)Strain through a fine sieve and store in the refrigerator.
This can be:
1.mixed with carbonated water in ratio of about 1:5 for a refreshing lime soda,
2.mixed with tequila and triple sec(or other orange liqueur) and served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass for Margaritas,(2 parts tequila, 1 part lime syrup, 1 part triple sec)
3. mixed with an equal part of rum, diluted to taste with water and ice and finished with a dash of nutmeg for planter’s punch, or
4. diluted with plain ice water and served with shaved or crushed ice for Turkish-style sherbet.
It occurred to me much later, as we headed back home in the now bright sun, windows open, fresh and scented air streaming through the car, how Brahma indeed is manifested strongly in these days of erratic weather and awakening life. Those two friendly felines will probably have a new family to raise by the end of spring…it might be worth going back in two months to find out.