Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Making mints, not quite like the masters, in March March 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 12:01 PM
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IT WAS TEMPTING, mighty tempting, to pinch off a snippet of dough and roll it between my palms into the shape of a skinny squiggly snake.

But…, instead, I had to, like the others, abide by the rules and turn out molded hearts and roses, butterflies and shells, doves and rabbits…

It is what our aunts and mother, experts in the art of mint-making, would expect. For decades, these women have crafted homemade mints from cream cheese and powdered sugar for special family occasions like graduations, confirmations, weddings, bridal and baby showers, and birthdays.

A new generation of mint-makers crafted mints Saturday afternoon on my sister Lanae's deck. I took a break (that's my empty chair in the front) to photograph the event. Can you believe this is March in Minnesota?

Saturday afternoon nine family members—none of whom were my aunts or my mother—gathered at my sister Lanae’s Waseca home to carry on the tradition of mint-making. Just to be clear, this was a one-time deal since we were preparing the mints for my mom’s upcoming 80th birthday party. We figured she shouldn’t have to make mints for her own party.

We just hope the professional mint-makers aren’t too harsh in judging our mints because, well, quality control ranked below the fun factor during our mint-making session.

For example, my oldest niece claimed that some of the roses I molded resembled snowflakes. But the teacher in her, not wanting to criticize too much, said how nice that snowflakes are each unique. Uh, huh. Even I understood that remark. She wasn’t exactly awarding a star for superior mint-making.

My 10-year-old niece, the youngest of the mint-makers, pushes the powdered sugar/cream cheese dough into a mold. She's mixing colors. Don't you love her nail polish?

Expressing ourselves with multi-colored mints which will now need to air-dry for about five days.

Even the guys, AKA my husband on the left, and my middle brother, made mints.

I suppose you could say we weren’t stellar students. We did not follow the masters’ examples precisely, choosing to exercise our artistic freedom by molding multi-colored mints. “What will the aunts say?” we asked each other, barely masking our laughter.

At one point, someone suggested dipping a mint in salt, rather than sugar, just to shake things up a bit with the experienced mint-makers. But we decided not to rattle the masters too much.

If you’re among those attending my mom’s birthday party open house, enjoy the mints. And remember, these were not made by the master mint-makers.

Do you spot any snowflakes among these roses? I didn't think so.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling