Every year I buy mint for my garden, and every year the thing grows like crazy and I use almost none of it. I appear to have these romantic notions about sipping Mojitos and Mint Juleps on the patio all summer long, perhaps in a long flowing dress and a large floppy hat, enjoying the warm breeze. But that’s not exactly how summer in the Boston-area goes. It’s more like this: wait impatiently all spring for the warm weather to arrive, have a few nice days of comfortable temperatures in June, and then hide inside from the heat and humidity until September. And let the mint go to seed while you wonder what to do with it and why you buy it every year. Toss it in the compost when the cold weather comes and it dies out, and then conveniently have amnesia come April when you head to the nursery to buy plants for your garden. Pick up some mint while visions of Mojitos and warm summer breezes dance through your head. It’s the cycle of life.
So my mint this year went virtually untouched, except as touches in a few small recipes. I didn’t make a single mojito, nor a single mint julep. And the creepy mint creepers grew in their creepy way out of the pot and all over one side of the patio. I pretty much just ignored the whole thing, gave it some water here and there when I remembered and left it to its own devices. It thrived despite my neglect, or perhaps because of it.
Finally, towards the end of the summer, I got it in my head to make panna cotta again, this time chocolate. But plain chocolate wouldn’t do, it had to have some interesting flavour twist. And somewhere along the way, I got a guilty conscience about all the mint that was sitting untouched all summer long. It just looked sad. Lonely. Like it wanted to be used in a creative low carb, gluten-free dessert. So I decided to take pity on the poor thing, and give it a moment in the limelight by putting it on my blog. I chopped some and steeped it in hot cream to get a lovely minty flavour. Then I mixed the milk and gelatin, added chopped chocolate and melted it in, and let them all hang out in the fridge together to set up into a nice little chocolate mint panna cotta. Now, I’m no expert in vegetable psychology, but I think the mint was happy.