My aunt and uncle moved into their cute house on the northern border of Massachusetts last winter and going up to visit them is the perfect antidote to the crazy work schedule I’ve had lately. Technically it’s on a lake, but we all call it the Pond House and it is every bit as cozy and quaint as it sounds. The house boasts big plush couches in the living room, comfy chairs on the screened-in porch overlooking the lake, tall Adirondack chairs on the deck, and even a cute little bench on the dock right over the water.
Have you figured out the pattern here? Whether it’s a bench, an Adirondack chair or a couch, there are myriad options of where to plant your tush while you sit and do nothing but while away the hours with some pretty awesome family members. Should you decide you’d like more movement than the basics of transporting wine or cheese from the table to your mouth, you can hop in a kayak or go for a scenic walk. In short, this is the life.
No, mint juleps are not just for the Kentucky Derby. It’s a terrible, terrible misconception that they are. First of all, they are made with bourbon. And secondly, they are packed with mint and ice, making them fabulously refreshing in every sense of the word. The sad thing is that it wasn’t until this year’s Derby that I suddenly realized all of this.
How did I suddenly come to see the light? Well, in early May I posted the mint julep recipe that I made last year for the Kentucky Derby and shortly afterwards received an e-mail from my sister-in-law’s mother with her family’s recipe. And ladies and gentlemen, when you get a recipe for mint julep from a woman like Debbie Farmer you better listen up. Debbie is many wonderful things, including an excellent cook and a fabulous host and it just so happens that she hails from Kentucky. So this year we made Debbie’s recipe for the Derby and after just one sip I was completely smitten. I declared right then and there that mint juleps should be enjoyed all summer long.
I don’t think I had ever paid any attention to the Kentucky Derby until maybe five years ago when Joseph and I just happened to be in Brooklyn the same weekend as the Derby. We were staying with Mark and Jordan, my brother-in-law and his wife, and they didn’t yet have their two beautiful little girls. Some of Jordan’s family comes from Kentucky and the Derby is a pretty big deal for her – I would guess sort of akin to St. Patrick’s day for my family. They were throwing a small party in its honor and I’m sure they had some really great food, but to be honest, I don’t remember it. What I do remember are the mint juleps.
Just as I had never watched the Kentucky Derby, I had never had a mint julep. The idea of mint and bourbon seemed just a little strange to me (who knows what I was thinking because I do like mojitos), but one sip and I was completely sold. And one minute of watching all the hats and hoopla of the Kentucky Derby and I was sold on that too. And so a tradition was born. Now every year I sit with my mint julep and watch the hats, um, I meant the horses.
I actually took these pictures last year, before Joseph got me my great Boston double old fashioned glasses. I was excited to share my love of mint juleps, but then I realized that there was really no point in sharing a recipe for mint juleps after the Kentucky Derby. This year I’m just barely getting it in in time, but hopefully you can still grab some mint and bourbon and enjoy!
A few years ago my sister posted something on Facebook about the bourbon brownies she was making and I’ve been kind of obsessed with the concept ever since. Chocolate and bourbon united together in brownie form? What more could you ask for? How about this: they’re only 150 calories a pop!
Joseph and I have a couple of sporting wagers with my sister and her husband a couple of times a year, but the big one is March Madness. I’m not sure why that’s the big one since the three of them are all really into college football (personally I’d pick a good movie or an episode of Breaking Bad over most games regardless of the sport), but for March Madness we have the Mad Cow Cup. It’s literally a just coffee mug that Joseph customized online with a cartoon cow face and with “Mad Cow Cup” written over it, but it’s a big deal because the winning couple gets the cup and bragging rights over the losing couple.