I recently read Gayla Trail’s new booklet, Drinking the Summer Garden, the first in a series of pocketbooks on gardening and food by Gayla and partner Davin Risk. Gayla is the author of the “You Grow Girl” blog and books Easy Growing, Grow Great Grub and You Grow Girl, as well as a frequent contributor to Garden Making.
Her new booklet has recipes for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as for snacks. Perusing the recipes and photos made me feel very refreshed and very thirsty at the same time!
The recipes call for a variety of ingredients that can be grown in your backyard, like herbs, watermelon, rose petals, tomatoes and raspberries. Multiple-ingredient cocktails are trendy right now, and it’s always wise to have tasty non-alcoholic beverages available for get-togethers. There are lots to choose from in the booklet. I love having options other than beer and wine to serve, and I think I’d get bonus points from friends if I offered them drinks made from ingredients grown in my garden.
There’s a great list of flavour ideas for infused water. One of the suggestions uses orange and rosemary, which I think is a classic combination, but I never thought of using it to infuse water before. I had an orange in my fridge, the rosemary in a pot on my back patio, and I threw them together in a pitcher of water. I now have a new, delicious alternative to the lemon slices in water I usually store in my fridge.
I took two other drink recipes for a “taste-run” a couple of weekends ago when I was visiting family. We made the ‘Watermelon Slush,’ which can be served as is or used in a ‘Watermelon Mojito.’ Watermelon, lime and mint were a winning combination. Once the slush was combined with rum, all it needed was an umbrella.
The booklet includes several great simple syrup recipes, too, and I opted to try the ‘Lemon Basil Simple Syrup’ to use in a ‘Lemon Basil Gimlet.’ This drink was the clear favourite at our taste test. Light, herby and refreshing, it has a clear basil flavour that makes it different from other drinks we tend to make in the summer months.
During the taste testing, we all agreed that any cocktail with a sugared rim is good news, and there’s great how-to sections in the booklet, including one on sugaring or salting a rim. A tip I loved is to include dried or ground herbs to the salt or sugar to give extra flavour and colour to the rim of a glass.
I haven’t tried any snack recipes yet, but the ‘Lavender Honey Posset with Blueberries’ calls out to me every time I pass that page. First I’ll make the ‘Lavender Honey Syrup’, an ingredient in the recipe, and then be ready to blow people away with a unique dessert to celebrate the end of summer.
Preparing a few ingredients in advance, like various syrups or infused vodka, means lots of options for different concoctions. Your kitchen can quickly turn into a beverage laboratory, with herbs and jars (and possibly liquor bottles) scattered around you, and many curious and refreshed friends happy to try something that’s outside of their normal drinking repertoire and based on tasty, local ingredients.
You can get more information about Drinking the Summer Garden here, and buy an eBook Bundle for $9.99 or paperback for $19.99.