Reasons to Love Mint

Since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans this lovely, aromatic plant has been used for cooking and medicinal purposes.

You may know of it’s power to aid digestion and treat indigestion.  I love a cup of mint tea if my stomach is a bit upset.

Menthol is derived from the peppermint plant.  It is well know to treat chest and respiratory problems by relieving congestion and unblocking respiratory passages.  You probably have had your share of cough drops containing menthol. Of course, there are minty mouthwashes and chewing gum to freshen your breath.

Other benefits of mint are that it is rich in minerals such as copper, zinc, iron, manganese, potassium, calcium, selenium, fluoride and phosphorous.  Vitamins included in mint are A, B12 and C.  Mint also contains riboflavin, thiamine and folic acid.  Quite a big punch for such a little plant!

There is a very simple way to add more mint to your diet.  Simply add a few crushed leaves the next time that you have a glass of water.  Refreshing and good for you!


Disclaimer – Please note: the information presented is not intended at a diagnosis, treatment or prevention of any disease.  Please consult your physician if you are having any medical problems.

Benefits of Eating with your Family – Wednesday Words of Wisdom

Did you know that a study done by the University of Michigan found that family meal time was the single strongest predictor of fewer behavioral problems in children?

Pea Soup with Mint Recipe – Perfect for Spring!

When I was a girl, I spent time in the country with my great aunt and uncle.  This great aunt was one of the two sisters who helped raise my mother, so really she was more like a grandmother to me.  I called her Mimi. I called her husband Mackie, and he was one the the dearest people in the world to me.

One spring he decided that he and his little helper (me) would clear a small tract of overgrown land and plant a garden.  It was to be my first garden.  Mackie and I spent many days clearing the area and preparing the soil till it was just right.

Mackie (middle) looking very serious and ready to hoe!

I got to choose whatever I wanted to grow and I picked peas, one of my favorites.  I planted, weeded, watered and finally harvested a tiny crop of fresh peas. I remember sitting on the front porch and shelling them and pouring the little green jewels into a pan.

I think that it is one of the most beautiful things in the world to let a child have their own garden.  It is wonderful to see what you have tended grow, struggle and reach it’s potential.

Since peas have always been favorites of mine, I often think of them when my thoughts turn to spring.

I am looking forward to serving this soup to celebrate spring this Sunday.


Pea Soup with Mint

Yield: 6 - 8 servings

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes


2 tablespoons unsalted butter, or olive oil if you prefer
1 medium leek, white/light green part only, well cleaned and finely chopped
1 rib celery, from heart of the celery, sliced
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
4 cups chicken stock (I use organic, low sodium, or you could use homemade)
2 packages frozen peas, 10 ounces each
2/3 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
Salt and white pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
Mint for garnish


In a large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat, melt butter and add the leeks and celery and cook until soft, but not brown. Add chicken stock and potatoes and cook until potatoes are soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the peas and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until peas are tender. Remove from heat.

Add the mint, salt and pepper. If you prefer a richer soup, add cream.

Puree the soup in blender in small batches about a cup at a time and puree until smooth.
Garnish with mint.

This soup can be served hot or cold.


Fresh Watercress Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

My mother grew up in the area of Cincinnati called O’Bryonville.  It was where the Irish lived.  O”Bryonville was within walking distance of the stately mansions on Grandin Road and that was where some of the finest families of Cincinnati lived.  Is was convenient for the Irish to live so close, because most were servants in the mansions up the street.

My mother, her grandmother and two aunts lived in a small, neat, clapboard house on Cinnamon Street.  Down the hillside at the back of their house ran a little brook…beside the brook grew watercress.

My great-aunt in front of their house.

My mother told me that as a young girl she would run down to the brook with a basket and gather fresh watercress.  She would then take it home and the family would enjoy sandwiches with creamy unsalted butter and freshly made bread.  They would also make beautiful, simple salads and soups.

My mother (the caption for this snapshot was “our Irish rose”).

I have always loved the bitter, yet fresh taste of watercress.  It lends itself to so many variations.  This is one of our favorites for Sunday supper.


Fresh Watercress Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Yield: 4 servings

Total Time: 15 minutes


1 bunch watercress
1 Granny Smith apple, sliced into small wedges
2 stalks celery, sliced
20 Marcona almonds
1/4 cup of your favorite crumbled goat cheese

Lemon Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste


Toss watercress, apple, celery and almonds together in bowl. Keep in the refrigerator till ready to serve.

Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper in small bowl.

Dress the salad with lemon vinaigrette, sprinkle crumbled goat cheese on top and serve immediately.


Soul Satisfying Beef Stew – My Tribute to Orpha

When my daughter, Dana was under a year old, my great friend Cindy and I embarked on an adventure.

We packed up her 2 darling children (ages 3 and 1) and Dana (who was just under 12 months) to visit her mother in Cape Cod, because both of our husbands were away on business.

We thought that we were so savvy because we bought cheap seats on a new discount airline for about $29.00. The flight had MANY delays (we could have gotten there about 4 hours earlier for $10. more when the major carriers matched the fare). We finally arrived at her mother’s cottage absolutely exhausted after entertaining our babies for hours.

Her dear mother, Orpha had been cooking all day and was waiting with the most wonderful meal…hearty stew, crisp salad, fresh bread and wine. The babies slept, we ate, and it was one of the best (most needed) Sunday suppers I can ever remember.

This is my adaptation of her delicious stew.


Soul Satisfying Beef Stew

Yield: 4-6 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes


1 lb. meat for stew (I used London Broil) cut into 1 inch cubes
1 - Cup flour
3 - Tablespoons olive oil
1 - Large green pepper cut into cubes
1 - Large onion cut in slices
2 - Cloves of garlic minced
1 - 15 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
2 - Cups water
4 - Large carrots peeled and cut on the diagonal
1/3 lb. - Green beans rinsed and cut on the diagonal
10 - Small new potatoes (you may peel them or leave whole)
1 - Beef boullion cube (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Either purchase pre-cut stew meat or prepare your own by cutting the beef into 1 inch cubes.

I dredge the cubes in flour, salt and pepper till they are well coated.

In a large, heavy skillet over medium heat add olive oil and brown the meat on all sides (be very careful not to overcrowd the pan, or the meat will not brown properly). After meat is browned place in small roasting pan.

Using the same skillet immediately add the onions and green pepper and let them brown a bit, then add the garlic being careful not to burn it. When finished, add to the roasting pan.

Next, add the water and simmer letting the flavorful bits loosen from the bottom then add the crushed tomatoes and stir. At this point you can add the boullion cube if you prefer.

Cover and slowly roast the stew in the oven for 3 hours.

When the meat is done prepare the vegetables by either steaming, or boiling them in separate pots till fork tender.

Add the vegetables to the meat, stir and serve with a crisp salad and crusty bread.