A Syrup of Spring Mist

March 28, 2007 at 1:06 PM (dishes by cuisine, dishes by main ingredient, fusion, sugars-sweets, syrups, various citrus fruit)


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.



  1. Richa said,

    making ‘nimbu pani concentrate’ as we called it, was a regular summer time ritual back home. But never added chile, that’s very new to me.
    btw have been to wisconsin many times, it’s beautiful.

    Hey Richa- you’re absolutely correct!…this is nothing more than “limeade” as we call it here or “nimbu pani”, with ginger added(as many Indians and myself prefer)…plus a dash of Morocco(iced spearmint tea), chiles and white pepper for furthur cooling and underlying hummmmmm. It’s a new twist on a classic that strangely enough, works pretty well, if I do say so myself 🙂
    I agree….parts of Wisconsin are quite beautiful. What part(s) have you been to? Ever been to the far North?

  2. Trupti said,

    what a lovely post….I don’t know which I liked better, the writeup or the recipe, hell, both of them….. Wisconsin…I think I have been there once when I was 12…my grandfather used to be a visiting professor at the Univ there..so we went to visit,and we were also around a town called “menona”…does that sound familiar? I might be off on the name……
    The weather’s crazy here in NL. we got 15 cms of snow/blizzard like conditions yesterday, and today, it was warm enough to melt it all. Whatever. 😉

    I know it! I had all the windows open a few days ago- it was almost hot enough to make me sweat…now it’s pretty chilly and drizzling rain on and off….weird spring.
    Menona—yep! that’s near Madison(the capitol) where the HUGE university is with 100,000 students, which is equal to the population of Green Bay(where I am)….its madness there when classes are in session! Madison is a beautiful city though, with its two lakes surrounding the city. A lot more to do there than here….I need to take another road trip….:-)
    You live all the way up there?

  3. Anita said,

    Pel, Pel, Pel!!! That is so well written, I could visualize all the scenes in front of me, the drive and all! Very evocative.

    And look at that glass with the refreshing drink! The green-gray against the gray-green stones. Nice.

    I’m out of Triple sec (Margaritas being my favourite drink, and so suited to the Indian summer)…but there is so much else I can do with this syrup. Spring Mist…nice name too. My sister-in-law will be here soon, so the bar is going to be restocked for the summer!

    Well, looks like somebody likes to have her little drinky-winkies and get tipsy-wipsies…. [lights up a cigarette, inhales, then blows it out with a look of satisfaction while raising just ONE eyebrow….]

    Thanks for the compliments Anita…. before this blog thing, it’d been so long since I’d written anything. I must say it’s an interesting creative medium…
    [thinks to himself: I spend lord knows how many hours on a classic Hyderabadi dish, with lukewarm reception….and then 15 minutes on this one and LOOK at the response….go figure…sighs]

  4. James said,

    I’m the friend that went on the journey. Had a wonderful time, Pel. Thank you!

    James!!! Wow…oh thanks to you too. It was a splendid day!
    Don’t forget to have some lime soda next time you stop over… or maybe a Margarita? 😀 Or two?

  5. Manisha said,

    I want to go to Winsconsin, too. No, that’s not a mistake – that’s how we say it! The last time I was there was to see MAM in Milwaukee with my own two eyes. Never ever went to the Dells even though it was just a couple of hours drive plus an hour’s wait at the IL-WI border. Hated the thought of so many people!

    I love those stones you have in the backdrop! Are you using them as planters?

    Next time let James drive and you take pictures. I am floating away on all that imagery!

    Thunderstorms, rain and snow for us from tonight. A stark contrast to yesterday: sunny and in the high 60s. Was wonderful and misty this morning but I suffered. The wind brought in so much stuff that my face is a balloon and my eyes all puffy. Sniff.

    MAM…..MAM…..mothers against mischief….mork and mindy…..munch all morning…..mad about millet…..magnificent anarchist monarchs…..I give up!
    The dells are awesome….take the boat tours to see the geological formations- Witch’s Gulley is the best…….gotta see the House on the Rock- I spent 6 hours there- that’s in Spring Green, where Taliesin(Frank Lloyd Wright’s school of architecture) is….

    Them there stones is really not stones, they just look like stones. I made ’em. I’ll post the recipe soon……ooooooo! 🙂 they’re flower-pots that look like stone bagels.

    Pictures…yeah…I know…I’m not used to carrying it around with me yet. I thought of it after I got a ways out of town. A few more miles and I was really suffering….

    Thunderstorms? Rain and snow? like sleet? That means it’ll be here in a day or two….thanks for the heads up! You have allergies I take it? That sounds miserable….I’m sorry to hear that. Is it just in spring?

  6. Manisha said,

    Two Qs:
    – will this work with lemons instead of limes? zest and all? Yep!! Lemon soder-pop is a raving-fave…
    – why citric acid? You don’t have to….it just helps guard against mold if you store it for awhile…
    Ok three…
    – don’t have white peppercorns – what to use instead? 1. green peppercorns 2. black peppercorns…I think black would be nice with lemons, but just so’s ya know, it can always be made with just the juice, sugar and zest (+citric acid and salt) if you want the pure citrus flavour- but you probably already knew that I’m sure….god, look at some of the gorgeous stuff you’ve turned out from your kitchen!…-you can even cheat by using lime/lemon oil instead of zest, but then you miss out on some of the anti-oxidants…. 🙂 I don’t know why, but I’m thinking you’ll be making your own soda from now on….

  7. Manisha said,

    Milwaukee Art Museum.

    I’d heard of the House on the Rock and that scary projection over the valley but apart from that Dells to us, Chicagolanders, was waterparks and more waterparks and lots and lots of people. Anita will want to know…I ha dno clue FLW had a school in WI. We missed out on a lot when we were there – not just work pressures but Medha used to be sick a lot. You know, day care woes…

    You made ’em? See I knew they were planters! What did you make them of – I want to make some, too!

    Thunder last night. Woke up to 3 inches of fluffy wet snow. Oh my poor dogwood and my cherry plum. The flowers are being weighed down by all this snow. The dogwood had started showing specks of green yesterday. It’s been through many Colorado springs so I guess this is just another one.

    Spring allergies. And I hate to take meds cos they make me feel worse.

    Gonna make it with the lemons I bought to cook into a lemon pickle without any chilli powder and mix it with the one I made with twice the chilli powder. But I didn’t get around to it and we started eating the spicy lemon pickle, so I needed something else to do with the lemons! And this seemed perfect!

    Will let ya know!

    That spicy lemon pickle sounds pretty good, and, if you’re eating it, it can’t be TOO spicy, now can it? 🙂 I’ve done that averaging trick a few times too…
    Those dogwoods will be fine…they grow wild around here and make it through the winters with no problem…yeah, Anita would go nuts at the House on the Rock….I actually ventured out a bit in “the infinity room” and looked at the forest down below…it makes me ill to think about it now. I loved all the music boxes and sound sculptures though…6 hours was not enough!

  8. Manisha said,

    You need to put me on your whitelist. My previous comment is in the spam folder. It has two links.

  9. Manisha said,

    Rephrasing: please put me on your whitelist. 😀

    That’s better! lol Seriously though…I have nothing in my spam folder. I checked twice. My setting is for 3 or more links, plus you’re already on my white list…. try again? What I do if I write something longer is copy it to the clipboard in case something happens….[looks meek, waiting for a retort] 😀

  10. Manisha said,

    Arrrrgh! Where did it go?

    I don’t remember everything I wrote. Maybe it had 3 links.

    MAM = Milwaukee Art Museum


    On behalf of the demon who sucked your comment into oblivion, I apologize…. 🙂 Ah!!! Milwaukee Art Museum…is that where they have pictures and stuff to look at? 😀

  11. bee said,

    hey pel, can you freeze this into icecubes? like we freeze fruit puree? and then just drop it in tequila or whatever else?

    I never tried it; possibly the sugar content would keep it from freezing though….boy, you like your flavours strong! This stuff is really best watered down, ice-cubes or what have you…speaking of ice cubes…. if you cut the bottoms off of plastic soda bottles you have the perfect mold for different-sized flowers- looks great in a punch-bowl, and no-one will be the wiser! 😉

  12. Richa said,

    yeah, we did pass thru Madison & Green Bay on our way to Wisconsin Dells. We rented a cottage on the water in Egg Harbor. It felt like being away from civilization, listening to the silence of nature!

    Oh…up in Door county! (Egg Harbor) That is another world there…..I drive up there to think fairly often…..did you have achance to visit any of the large parks with the high look-out towers?

  13. Manisha said,

    I went to MAM to look at the building. A Rembrandt exhibition was coming through the following week. The main level was gorgeous. The basement was moldy and we sneezed our lungs out. Medha wanted to know why some of the paintings were up there when she could do a better job. She also wanted to know why there were so many statues of people with no clothes on. There were several fabulous Rodins. The art inside was very pale in comparison the art that is the building.

    Wow…the things you learn….I ought to go to Milwaukee sometime during the day… 🙂

    That must have been neat to see the museum with your daughter! Children have such a knack for seeing details we adults miss at times, as well as the ability to pose obvious questions without hesitation. What a great mom you are!

  14. Coffee said,

    Beautiful write up!!!!! And a refreshing drink that is!!!! I could surely do with some in this heat of singapore. 🙂

    Singapore!? How small the world is becoming eh? Thank you, thank you, thank you…for the nice words that made my day! I hope this drink helps with the heat! [Pel swiches his space-heater on…]

  15. Asha said,

    Nimbu pani with Jalapenos!! Whoa!! Good one.

    I just posted Jalapeno Chutney at my other blog Aroma!

    I smell a bargain here…I’ll try yours if you try mine? 🙂

  16. Malar Gandhi said,

    Hai there,
    Lovely snap!

    [Pel bows]

  17. Trupti said,

    yeah, I live all the way up here…. 😉

    God’s Country, I say.

    I love visiting your blog…sometimes just for the music! Do you ever listen to Bjork, that Icelandic lassie from across the sea?

  18. shilpa said,

    Thats a very unusual drink Pelicano. I never added green chili or mint to it, I loved the picture. Those rocks look so good.

    I’va always loved the combination of chiles, lime, and mint….in here, there is not enough chile to make it very spicy…just a bit of a warm “hum” underneath the layers…… I’ll post the recipe for the rocks soon. I’m glad you like the picture! I am thinking of having it made into a large poster…. 🙂

  19. Aruna said,

    I liked the pictures very much, especially those small rocks. This drink is a little different. Adding chile is new to me. Mint yes, indeed refreshing.

    Glad you like the pic- just a fluke shot. I still have much to learn about digicams. The rocks….they are photogenic aren’t they? Thanks Aruna…

  20. outofthegarden said,

    OK, I admit, I read this post very quickly and readily picked up on fog, Lake Michigan, and cats. Then I came to the part about pulling crunchily (crunchily!?) into the parking lot. Great description! You can drive the washboard roads all around the UP of Michigan before crunching into some out-of-the-way parking lots. I have yet to visit the WI peninsula, but it’s on my to-do list.

    Glad to see you finally started your blog, Pelicano! I can see I have some catching up to do — you have some lovely photos and I’m sure just as lovely recipes and writing. Only thing is, when last you left me a comment, you didn’t leave me a link. Luckily I did a little sleuthing and found you out through Shilpa 😉

    Congrats and welcome to the blog-world! Misty mix looks lovely.


    Thank you so much Linda…. you are welcome here anytime!

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