Food & Drink

Taste summer: Lemon could be official flavor of season

Don’t settle for powdered or frozen. Make your own lemonade this summer with just three ingredients.
Don’t settle for powdered or frozen. Make your own lemonade this summer with just three ingredients.
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Years ago, I was talking to a friend of mine about seasonal flavors.

Pumpkin, for instance, means fall. Peppermint and hot chocolate scream winter, while strawberries mark the beginning of spring.

So what’s summer’s flavor? I know summer’s scent: coconut-scented sunscreen with a slight hint of chlorine.

The flavor, however, is harder to define. After all, this is the season of fresh produce. Finally, the fruits of hard labor pay off as we fill buckets with blueberries warmed by the sun and crowds slice into watermelons at outdoor feasts.

And then there are the lemonade stands, a staple of young entrepreneurs everywhere.

I remember setting up my own stand in the front yard, as close to the curb as I could get without disobeying my mother’s rule to stay away from the street.

My Strawberry Shortcake folding chair was shorter than the card table I’d dragged up from the basement, but that didn’t matter. I had a pitcher of pink lemonade that my mom made for me — something I’m sure she was happy to do to have one less child inside whining about boredom. I also had a stack of plastic cups, a roll of paper towels for my messier customers, and a carefully lettered sign encouraging people to make a purchase.

By them time I closed my stand, I’d made $3. My dad bought a glass while home for lunch. My elderly neighbor bought one, too. My best friend came over and I gave her a glass for free because she had a dollar from her mom with instructions to bring a glass to her. My price was 25-cents per glass, but I’m pretty sure adults felt sorry for me.

Did I mention I lived on a dead end street? I have no memory of selling lemonade to anyone I didn’t know. My other best friend lived on the main road that fed into our neighborhood. The stand she operated with her sister was practically a gold mine. I couldn’t help be jealous when she had the quarters for a second candy bar at the swimming pool.

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My days of running a lemonade stand are long behind me, but I love the feeling of nostalgia that waves over me when I spot a lemonade stand operated by an enthusiastic child offering the best lemonade in town. I keep loose change in my car for this very purpose. And I always remember to tip. After all, snacks at the pool aren’t as cheap as they were back in my day.

Because I’d look silly operating a lemonade stand at my age, I’ve found other ways to incorporate this summertime flavor, including a mixed drink you won’t find on your neighborhood corner.

How to Doctor Store-Bought Lemonade

Start with 1-pint can of condensed frozen lemonade, mix in water following the directions on the label, then add:

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 cup crushed strawberries sweetened with 2 tablespoons sugar, or more to taste (the sugar helps release the juice from the berries)

1 pint fresh raspberries

1 cup lemon and orange slices

1/2 cup seedless cucumber slices — very refreshing

Source: “The Dinner Doctor” by Ann Byrn (Workman Publishing Co.; Sept. 5, 2003)

RASPBERRY LEMONADE CUPCAKES

1 package white cake mix

1 small package vanilla instant pudding

3 tablespoons sweetened raspberry lemonade drink mix

1 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons lemon zest

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup oil

4 egg whites

3 drops of red food coloring

1 cup fresh raspberries

Frosting

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup shortening

1/2 cup frozen raspberry lemonade concentrate, thawed

2 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

Zest from 1 lemon

2 pound package or 7 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3 to 4 drops of red food coloring

In a large bowl, whisk cake mix, pudding mix, and drink mix together. Add sour cream, lemon zest, water, oil, and egg whites to the dry mix. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed for about two minutes. Add drops of food coloring and mix in. Fold in raspberries and mix gently to incorporate.

Scoop batter into 24 lined muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in one comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting the cupcakes.

Prepare the frosting by creaming butter, shortening, and lemon zest together. Then add lemonade concentrate, milk and vanilla with a mixer. Beat until smooth. Gradually add the sugar, mixing well until light and fluffy. Beat in the food coloring.

Pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Place a fresh raspberry on top of each cupcake.

Source: “Six Sisters’ Stuff: 52 Menu Plans, Recipes, and Ideas to Bring Families Together” by Six Sisters’ Stuff (Shadow Mountain; March 25, 2014)

LEMONADE CHICKEN

1 can (12 ounces) frozen lemonade concentrate, defrosted, divided

5 or 6 sprigs fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 whole chicken (about 3 pounds) cut into parts or equivalent amount of parts

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Make marinade: In a small bowl, mix ½ the can of lemonade concentrate, the oregano, the oil and salt and pepper. Mix well.

Place the chicken in a zipper freezer or storage bag. Pour marinade over chicken, turning the bag a few times to coat chicken.

Place chicken in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours; overnight is better.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drain chicken and discard marinade.

Place chicken on a baking sheet and bake for 45-60 minutes (time depends on size of parts)

While chicken is baking, prepare glaze by placing the remaining half of the lemonade concentrate in a small saucepan and reduce by 50% over medium heat — about 5-8 minutes.

About 5 minutes before chicken is done, glaze each piece with the prepared glaze.

Source: bakeatmidnite.com

LEMONADE

1/2 cup sugar or honey

7 cups water

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 4 to 5 lemons)

Combine the sugar and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Combine the sugar water, lemon juice, and remaining 6 cups of water in a pitcher. Use a long-handled spoon to stir to combine. Chill in the refrigerator or pour over ice.

Source: “The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making” by Alana Chernila (Clarkson Potter; April 3, 2012)

GINGER-MINT LEMONADES

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and lightly smashed

1 1/2 cups sweet bourbon

2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 bunch mint leaves, for garnish

Place sugar, water, and ginger in a small saucepan over medium heat and simmer until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally, 7 to 10 minutes. Set mixture aside and allow to cool completely.

Place a few mint leaves in each glass and fill with ice. Pour ginger-infused simple syrup, bourbon, and lemon juice into a large shaker filled with ice and shake until completely mixed. Divide among glasses and serve.

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Source: “Tiny Food Party!: Bite-Sized Recipes for Miniature Meals” by Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park (Quirk Books; Oct. 9, 2012)

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