Thursday, January 7, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons... make lemonade....duh! When life gives you lots and lots of lemons, you first make lemonade, then you make lemon curd. But I am getting way, way ahead of one whole post. Allow me to backtrack a bit.

The other day, some enterprising neighborhood children opened a lemon stand. At first I thought it was a lemonade stand, but when I pulled the car over, they had not lemonade, but piles and piles of freshly picked lemons from their backyard tree. At 4 for $1, they were a great value, so I loaded up. We raced home, and had to make lemonade of course.

Lemonade seems like a summer beverage, but truth is, citrus is a winter fruit. It's like a little bit of sunshine to brighten spirits during the dark, cold days of winter. You probably don't want to hear this, but while the rest of the country has been frozen with an "Arctic Blast," we here in Los Angeles and environs have been given the very best weather - the sunny, warm days that fool us into thinking that spring has sprung. The sunny, warm days that fool my daffodils into thinking that spring has sprung too. We'll see if they get any crazy ideas....hopefully not. We still have frost ahead, but this has been a very nice reprieve indeed.

So back to the lemonade. It's really very simple to make it yourself. Or to have your lovely seven-year-old daughter do it. Basically you squeeze the lemons, add some sugar and water, give it a stir and pour over ice. Ta dah! Easy, right? If you are really feeling crazy, you can blend your lemonade with some ice and make a slushie. Add some vodka for the that's what I'm talking about! Or put your lemonade in a 9x13 pan, place in the freezer, and scrape at it with a fork every hour or so to make a lemon granita. Or squeeze in a little ginger juice and add sparkling water for a more sophisticated version of the childhood favorite. You really can't go wrong, especially when you have wonderfully fresh, homegrown lemons (or lemons from the FM).

Making lemonade is really easy if you have an electric citrus juicer...especially if you have a LOT of lemons to squeeze. Also important (but not totally necessary) is a fancy pitcher that you scored from a thrift store for $3.

Put the juice, water and sugar in the pitcher and give it a good stir with a long wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved. Stage it for a photo....then pour over ice and enjoy a taste of sunshine in the dead of winter.

Makes about 6 servings

Squeeze about 4-5 lemons to get a scant cup of lemon juice (7 0z). Pour in a pitcher, along with 3/4 of a cup of (superfine) sugar. Add about 4 cups of water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar and/or water if necessary. Pour over ice and serve.

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