Yesterday I went to Ikea for probably the sixth time since I have moved to this country. Ikea is unfortunately the one and only affordable home goods store in Switzerland, so we have grown a strong love/hate relationship in the past 6 months.
When I’ve had enough of the crowds, the windy, never-ending aisles, the decisions that need to be made, and I just want to get the heck out of there…the cafe magically appears. I sit down for the most delicious lunch I’ve ever had because at this point I’m ravenous and I’m eating the least expensive lunch Zurich has to offer. After my meal, I am revived and ready to tackle the rest of the store. I leave with way more items than were on my list and then I remember I don’t own a car anymore, so I get to carry everything to the train, then transfer to the tram, and haul them up the stairs. I finally get home and unpack my wonderful new treasures and I suddenly forget why I dreaded going to Ikea in the first place.
Alright, here’s my last complaint about Ikea for the day. Yesterday was October 10th and Ikea had a boatload of Christmas decor ready for purchase, conveniently located right next to check out. Christmas in early October…really? It seems to be creeping into stores earlier and earlier every year and I don’t like it. Not one bit.
Though I thought it was ludicrous to see Christmas in stores so early, it did remind me of something very important for the holiday season: peppermint extract.
I have no idea why extracts are not sold in stores here, but they aren’t, so I have to make my own (ie vanilla extract). I bought a mint plant a while back, which I killed, and I just got a new one which I needed to use ASAP in case my black thumb decides to show up again. Extracts take a while to reach their full potential, so if you want to make some peppermint hot chocolate, mint brownies, and candy cane cookies this December, go buy yourself some vodka and mint next time you are at the store.
This is ridiculously easy to make.
Harvest your mint and pull the leaves off the stems.
Rinse off the leaves and bruise them with your hands. The bruised leaves will release more flavor.
Throw the mint leaves into a jar.
How much peppermint do you have now? Times that by 2-4 and pour that amount of vodka on top of your leaves. For example, I had about 1/3 cup mint leaves, so I used 1 cup vodka.
Now all you have to do is stick it in a cool, dry place.
And wait patiently. You can test it at 4 weeks, but if it doesn’t seem to have enough flavor, let it sit for a few weeks longer. Once it is minty enough for your liking, drain the leaves and start using your extract! Store your extract in a sealable container in your pantry, or another cool place in your kitchen.
Now, let’s forget that I ever brought up Christmas. We are living in the moment. And the moment includes a lot of pumpkin.