Thursday, August 10, 2006

When Life Hands You Lemons...

It's been a quiet week in the kitchen, and most of my meals have been thrown together on the spot with no thought of cooking anything fancy to share with all of you.

Really, you don't want to know how many nights I can eat nothing but fried okra. And while an occasional pasta dish is a nice change of pace, how hard is it to toss it with a quick fry-up of fresh garlic, ripe tomato, and basil?

I haven't even baked, despite the call of my sweet tooth!

In short, you might well think I've been taken ill. The truth of the matter is, I'm just enjoying each day, trying to slow down a bit in the midst of chaos.

So it's only appropriate that this week I should find myself craving unreasonable amounts of freshly squeezed lemonade.

Thoughts of fresh lemonade in the summertime might call up images of a big pitcher, rounded and dewy with condensation, filled with a cloudy pale yellow liquid and slices of fresh lemons on top. But that's not my speed this week.

Instead, I've been making my lemonade glass by glass. It seems so much easier just to hand-juice one organic lemon at a time, taking a few moments to cut and scrape the peel to dry for later. And I've found that the way I most like to sweeten that tart brew is... maple syrup.

Surprised? Don’t be. Maple syrup adds a little depth and richness to that light, tangy lemon taste, and with cold filtered water poured on top, you end up with a refreshingly simple drink that can quench any thirst.

Though I don't remember my grandmother ever making fresh lemonade, it just seems like a nostalgic drink, made all the more so by mixing everything in her old tin tumblers (which keeps the liquid nice and cold) and by sipping it on the back stoop while listening to the locusts chatter away in the evening sunlight.

Do yourself a favor. Accept those lemons that life hands you. Make some lemonade and sweeten it the simple way.

Then sit back, and relax. It'll all be okay.

Maple Lemonade

After having a fresh-squeezed European style lemonade (like the citron pressés I used to enjoy in France) at the Hungarian pastry shop last week, I was inspired to make my own lemonade glass by glass. It's so easy, you barely need a recipe, but this will get you started. Honey, by the way, also works well, but strangely enough, I prefer the maple syrup.

1 lemon, halved
1-2 tsp maple syrup
Cold filtered water

Juice the lemon halves thoroughly and pour juice into a glass. Stir in maple syrup to sweeten according to your taste. Top off mixture with cold filtered water. Sit down, put your feet up, relax, and sip.

Makes one serving


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