As I read things like “saying farewell to summer”, I stare at you in disbelief.
Disbelief as I wipe the sweat off my forehead, because it’s 80+ degrees today.
The joys of southern living one would say. It just makes me smile as I walk my daughter to the bus stop barefoot with a hand full of deep purple muscadines. Even as the bus pulls off I sit there on the curb, mainly because I don’t want to go to work, but more so remembering when life was slow and we weren’t so defined by the time of day or expense reports and audit findings.
And it was ok to throw grapes at each other…
Those days are long gone now, and more often than not, I find myself pouring some sort of cocktail. Ok. Just Bourbon straight is what I favor, but every now and then I get a little creative.
Like this past Sunday, I served dinner again; Just a few folks with empty stomachs and full hearts.
We talked of college football, high level colleagues whose financial compensations often far surpass their level of actual skill and argued over Obama’s foreign policy.
We also drank mojitos made of Muscadine juice and mint.
Muscadines (or Scuppernongs) are thick skinned grapes native to my much loved South. My memories of eating these jewels that vary in color as much as they vary in taste, could fill an entire chapter of a book. From creamy vanilla flavor to something along the lines of a granny smith apple mixed with a plum, you never knew what you would get at that first bite.
They’re also quite labor intensive. One must break through the leathery outer layer that encloses the sweet nectar of this grape, being mindful of the seeds that lay in the center. As kids, this never stopped us. We often sent the seeds and the outer skin airborne, many times at each other.
Hidden in the back yard of a beautiful house that sat at the end of Granny’s street, was an arbor covered with muscadine vines that provided a shady respite to the people that lived there; And plenty of grapes to the kids brave enough to climb the fence and steal them.
So if I must truly say goodbye to summer, the only appropriate way would be some sort of toast. With a drink that reminds me of the goodness summer brings. That long awaited fruit that would hang in dark purple clusters, surrounded by serrated- edged leaves and eager hands anxious to pick them.
Won’t you join me?
2 cups of muscadines (any color will do)
6 mint leaves
2 teaspoons sugar
1 lime, halved
2 oz rum
Pour the 2 cups of muscadines in a food processor and pulsing for about 4-5 3-second pulses. Strain the grapes through a fine mesh strainer, pressing the pulp to release the juices. Divide mint leaves, lime halves and sugar between two glasses. Use a muddler to crush the mint, lime and sugar together. Fill each glass with ice. Divide the rum and muscadine juice amoung the 2 glasses and stir to combine.
Garnish with extra mint leaves and muscadines that have been cut in half or whole ones.