As we near the end of our kitchen renovation (yes, I will write about that here. Someday.) I am going through stacks of papers that we had in the bookshelf of the old kitchen. Today’s item is a ragged, yellowed-with-age recipe for a mint julep that I clipped from the Washington Post back when we lived in Alexandria and had a plentiful amount of mint growing in our yard.
No sampling of bourbon recipes can omit instructions for making a mint julep, a powerful drink that visitors to Kentucky generally find themselves drinking very slowly. A silver julep cup is the ideal vessel for serving the drink as it can be chilled so well, but a glass tumbler does quite nicely in a pinch. This and the following two recipes (not shown here) have been adapted from Marion Flexner’s superb cookbook “Out of Kentucky Kitchens,” published in 1949.
1 teaspoon superfine sugar (or more, to taste)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon water
Shaved or crushed ice to fill the goblet
1 to 2 ounces Kentucky bourbon
Few sprigs of fresh mint
Place the sugar and chopped mint in a small bowl. Bruise the mint well with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon, until the mixture becomes paste-like. Add the water and stir into a thickish green syrup. Fill a julep cup or glass half full of shaved ice. Pour the mint syrup and then the bourbon to taste over the ice. Fill the glass to the top with additional ice and garnish with sprigs of mint. Just before serving imbed a straw deeply into the crushed ice and cut it to the approximate height of the mint.
I must have made this recipe. In fact I think I did and decided that I was not a fan of mint juleps. I really should try again. Maybe in early May of next year.
My mom and dad had a couple of friends, Patti and Bill, with whom they spent a lot of time. I remember going to their house many times and they would come to ours. They had children around my age — Mark a little older than me and Kim a little younger. I was probably closest with Kim, but I also remember handing out with Mark some.
At some point — I don’t think I was in my teens yet — Bill suffered a massive heart attack at age 35 and died in the night. Since the adults talked around kids a fair amount, I heard more about it than I probably should have. Apparently Patty called to Mark to call an ambulance (I don’t know if 9-1-1 was even a thing back then) but Bill was dead by the time the ambulance arrived.
My mom also told me that Patti told her that she and Bill had such a wonderful marriage and while she would miss him, she had no regrets because the marriage was perfect. She wrote the letter of thanks after the funeral that pretty much says that.
Not long ago she and I exchanged a few emails and I meant to send this to her. I asked her why she and my folks stopped hanging out and she said she thought it was because because she had to work extra hard after he died and didn’t have much free time.
After graduating from NIU with a bachelors degree in Elementary (K-8) and Special (K-12) Education I applied for a job in Elgin Public Schools (U46) and was told to go elsewhere first for experience and then apply back to U46. So I just kept working at the restaurant instead.
My cousin knew someone who worked at a private school that needed a long-term substitute teacher, so I applied and was hired by Bartlett Learning Center in Bartlett, Illinois to substitute for a middle grade class of students with special needs for a few months while the teacher recovered from breast cancer surgery.
I don’t remember much of the teaching during those two months but I do vividly remember taking the bus to the train station, riding to Bartlett, then walking the short distance from the train station to the school. I’d pretend I was a Victorian era governess arriving at my employer’s residence each morning, mostly because the train station and nearby general store (where I’d buy a green river in the afternoons while I waited for my train) was that old.
I also remember learning how to write an IEP.
I remember it more clearly after Sr. Jane came back — I was kept on as her assistant, and eventually was given my own classroom.
Each year in the spring the school put on a musical to raise funds. They were a lot of fun and the kids really seemed to enjoy them. They were also very well-done.
The school was run by the Sisters of St. Joseph, third order of St. Francis and for a while three of them were my best friends: Jane, Barbara and Margaret.
Here is a brochure that tells a little about the school. It is now called Clare Woods Academy and has moved to Woodstock, Illinois.
I taught the boy on the right in the back and the boy in the very front.
The teacher in the middle is Sr. Margaret, one of my good friends during and after my two years there
The woman in the right center photo and I were friends. The girl at the bottom right was named Susan and in my class the second year I taught there. The boy in the second photo on the left was named Matt and also in my class the second year I taught at BLC