Summer Drinks and Syrups–our June Recipe Share, 4 days late (oops!)

I guess June just flew by before I knew it  and certainly before I posted a recipe!   My apologies…Instead of a recipe, I thought I would share a couple of really simple things we like to do that have a BIG impact, that you can easily do at home.1. The Brampton is lucky to have terrific well water that is tested by the state every 6 months so we do not offer bottled water (the environmental impact of billions of plastic bottles in our landfills not withstanding).  Instead, we keep a pitcher of water in the guest fridge so that  folks can help themselves.  But not just any water:  we like to cut some thin slices of cucumber and snip a few sprigs of mint and add them to the pitcher.  After an hour or so, the water is infused with the flavors and oh so refreshing.  (Youngest daughter Simone, home from school for the summer, is addicted to it).  Another option is lime and mint, or simply lemon.  Any fruit or flavor you like will do.  Of course, make sure to wash everything carefully before adding it to the pitcher.2.  If you have strawberries that are a little bruised or funny looking but otherwise OK,  puree them in a blender or food processor and then add to your favorite lemonade.   It is so pretty and absolutely delicious.3.  When making iced tea,  place a generous handful of mint sprigs in with the bags while steeping.  For an even stronger mint flavor,  bruise the stems a little bit to release some of the oils.4.  If you have fresh ginger left over from a recipe and you don’t think you’ll be using it again before it goes bad, try this: Wash, peel and roughly chop the ginger into a few chunks. Set aside.  In a small pan combine 2 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar; bring to a boil.  Add the chunks of ginger and reduce the heat.  Let simmer for about a minute, then take off the heat and let cool completely in the pan.  Strain into a jar with a tight fitting lid and store in the refrigerator.  Use to sweeten iced or hot tea, lemonade or just about any drink.  It also makes a terrific addition to a fruit salad, especially citrus!  Of course, you can also buy the ginger specifically for this use.5.  Any herb that you like can also be used to flavor a simple syrup for drinks or fruit dishes.  Mint is the perennial favorite, but how about tarragon and lime? Or rosemary, lavender, whatever you like.  Mix a little of the simple syrup with a fresh squeezed citrus fruit and some seltzer water and you have a lovely home-made soda-pop.All this typing is making me thirsty. Gotta go!