Friday, August 21, 2009

Four Good Things About August...

... the evening light, green dragonflies, darting hummingbirds and cool, homemade drinks

In Maryland August is typically hot, dry and humid. This means that the lawns are crunchy and brown, (I hear you can make tortillas from them), the plants drooping from thirst, but walking outside means a 95 degree blanket of damp smog drops over your head and shoulders, puffs your hair up into a wad of cotton candy and shuts your lungs down. Little swarming bugs love this weather and are waiting to buzz and sting with joy until they are caught in your great mound of puffed hair.

But soon the hummingbirds will fly south and the dragonflies will be no more; it will be dark when people come home from work. So I thought, why not try these two refreshing drinks and make the best of the hottest days?

Peach Iced Tea
You can buy this if you want, but it is expensive and often made with the stomach-bloating high fructose corn syrup. My recipe is easy, fresh and economical.
Fill a five quart pot with cold water and bring to a boil.
Drop in 6 Lipton tea bags (you may also use PG Tips or Red Rose – no others under any circumstance).
Add 4-5 bruised, ripe or over ripe peaches. (If they are moldy, cut out the mold and throw that part away).
Let this tea steep until it is cool.
Remove the peaches and reserve.
Add 1 Cup sugar
Add ¼ Cup lemon juice
Stir, chill and serve over ice. It is fragrant, refreshing and delicious!
Peel the peaches which are no longer pretty. Serve them with morning cereal where you are too sleepy to notice their spent looks, under vanilla ice cream ( say under not over) or in a cobbler where they’ll be hidden under sugar and crumbs .

Three Variations of Lemonade:
When I was a teenager, I lived in St. Louis, MO. My sister, Gloria, convinced me to join the Political Science Club at our high school with her. Though I am an American, I am not interested in politics, nor was I then – just as though I’m a Christian, I am not interested in doctrine, please don’t talk to me about it. My mind shuts off.
This Political Science Club met once at the home of its president, a young man with an Irish name that I can no longer remember. In St. Louis, the heat was worse than it is here in Maryland because there was never the benefit of breezes from the water. I guess we were too far away from the great Mississippi! So, not only was I bored to death and out of place, but I was melting from the heat. Then the young man’s mother brought out lemonade on a bright silver tray! She presented me with a tall, ice-filled glass of lemonade – a pale, natural yellow—with one bright red cherry floating on top. I thought of nothing else that entire meeting.

Here’s the general recipe-- but with lemonade a lot of it depends on your preference:
Lemonade for a Crowd (50 people):
Measure 4 cups of cold water into a saucepan.
Add 8 cups of sugar and bring to a frenetic, rollicking boil and let it boil this way for 2 minutes. (Don’t worry! You are making a syrup. You will not drink it in this concentration!)
Add 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
Squeeze over a strainer (to catch the excess pulp and seeds) the juice of 4 fresh lemons
Add 5 Cups lemon juice from a jar
This is your lemonade syrup. Chill it and store in the refrigerator. The lemonade syrup must be diluted before drinking.
To serve:
Add 3-4 gallons water (taste this)
Add 4 cups good apple juice (such as Martinelli’s) or 2 containers of frozen apple juice.
Slice a lemon or two in circles, cut these circles in half to put in the pitcher, punch bowl or glasses. Serve with a single cherry over ice.

2. Smaller Crowds:
Make less syrup by halving the proportions. You may also freeze 1 or 2 cup quantities in zip lock bags.
To serve, add water and apple juice to taste based in a

general measure on how much you made or froze.

3. Berry Lemonade:
To your lemonade syrup add 1 Cup pureed summer berries. You may use blackberries, raspberries or strawberries (blueberries don’t work well, but you can try it if you want). Strain these through a sieve to try to eliminate some of the seeds or some of your guests may get a slightly upset stomach)
The more puree you add, the darker your lemonade will be. This way it will be a light pink. You can adjust according to your taste and the amount of berries on hand.
Add the puree to the lemonade, dilute as above and serve over ice.
People actually love this!

5 comments:

  1. this is so weird. I was going to email you THIS weekend to ask for recipes of your iced tea and lemonade. wow. I can't wait to print these off!
    you know, Josh says that the thing he remember most from my wedding was the delicious strawberry lemonade. thanks for helping make happy memories.

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  2. Yummy! Thanks for the recipes : )

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  3. I am sitting in my basement enjoying the coolness of the tile on concrete and recovering from my morning adventures in Maryland summer, servery hours of it with out Air conditioning in the car. I love your description of the weather it fit so well.

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  4. My son LOVES lemonade... I can't wait to make some real lemonade with him. I have no idea how to juice a lemon though. Do I need a juicer or just cut in half and squeeze?

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  5. thanks for these wonderful lemonades. I am going to copy these for my recipe box. STeph

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