In the shade,
Made with a rusty spade.”
My dad used to sing this in the summertime, when we were making or drinking lemonade. I have a feeling, knowing my dad, that he didn’t have the words quite right. We won’t even talk about the tune.
Still, I associate lemonade and limeade–served in tall glasses with lots of ice–with summertime. I especially remember the taste of my aunt’s lemonade. Now, my aunt was a pretty good cook–and made pie crusts that were to-die-for flaky. But her lemonade…well, not so much. It tended to be pretty weak and not very sweet at all. I theorize a ratio of about 1 lemon and 1/2 cup of sugar to about a gallon of water. Honestly, you can make lemonade that strong by ordering water with a slice of lemon and adding a sugar packet to it. Thankfully, it didn’t turn me off of lemonade forever!
My basic lemonade recipe goes something like this:
Head out the door to a picnic and realize you said you’d bring lemonade. Stop at the store and get a quart of lemon juice, a pound of sugar, a gallon jug of water, and a bag of ice. Combine it all in a cooler jug and shake well. Serve. Get home and discover that there’s still half an inch of undissolved sugar in the bottom of the cooler.
When I’m in a more premeditated mood, my planning goes something like this:
1 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
4 cups water
Ice to taste
While I like my lemonade stronger than my aunt made it, I still don’t like it too strong or too sweet, so this ends up being about the right ratio for me. I’m told it mixes better if you take the time to boil the lemon juice and sugar together into a simple syrup first, something I’m always meaning to do and never quite managing.
Of course, sometimes I like to mix it up a bit. So I make Strawberry Lemonade or Limeade:
1 can frozen lemonade or limeade concentrate, thawed
1 pint frozen strawberries, thawed
Pour lemonade/limeade concentrate into a blender and puree until strawberries are completely pulverized. Dump mixture into a 2-quart pitcher and add water per canned lemonade/limeade instructions (usually 4 1/3 cans). Pour over ice.
Iced tea is good in the summer, too. And even better is iced tea punch. This is a recipe I originally got out of an old “Herbs and Spices” cookbook. It’s called “Tea House Punch,” though I’m not sure why.
3-4 tea bags
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups ice water
In a 2-quart saucepan, pour boiling water over tea bags and steep for three minutes. Remove tea bags and discard. Blend sugar and spices, then pour into boiling water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add orange and lemon juices and stir to blend. Add ice water and stir until mixture cools.
The beauty of this recipe is that it can be served either hot or cold. Cold, it’s a refreshing, not-too-sweet spiced tea; hot, it’s pure comfort on a cold day.
Hmm. Maybe I need to make some of that for this picnic I’ve got coming up in a couple of weeks’ time….
What’s your favorite cool summertime beverage?