Tag Archives: lemonade

The Beach, Cape May: Day 1 and deciding on the Holiday Happy Hour Cocktail (with recipe!)

So, it is officially Summer and yesterday, we packed the car to the gills and headed to what appears to be our annual trip to the beach at Cape May, New Jersey.

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The first look at the beach for my kids and their best friend Marie-Lyse!

The traffic was pretty brutal, so what was supposed to be a 3 hour drive turned into 5. This would have been awful except for the fact that my daughter and I decided to use her iPod to make videos of ourselves singing along to whatever was playing on the radio. Yes, it had definite goof-ball qualities but I am pretty sure that it is done on long road trips more than travelers are willing to admit!

Day 1

Day 1

We were meeting our friends who drove from Quebec to meet us at the same house they rented last year. The kids had not seen each other since Christmas when they came to stay at our house for the holiday, and were beside themselves when we arrived. It was so odd, I was a year older and felt every bit of it, and they had grown inches taller and looked fabulous.

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Ide & Marie-Lyse

Instantly they hugged and laughed and then sort of stood back and looked,  feeling sort of shy staring back at their friend who had morphed into a different person, older looking… was that eye make-up?  It was an interesting moment to watch, and then I remembered I was a tired and frustrated woman in dire need of a drink: just to calm the nerves.

Beach finds

Beach finds

Our friend Kelley stood in the kitchen and pointed to the counter and said, “I’ve been to the wine store, what should we open?” I told him that wine was great but that this time I was going to introduce him to a new drink, a cocktail that perhaps we could make a staple of our happy hour for the week. There were no objections.

green rocks

Green rocks

The day before I had killed myself cleaning the house, planning possible menus and packing for our trip, and by evening felt the urge to go to a bar and have a shot of whiskey. What I mean is…have you ever watched one of those movies where the protagonist has gone through some major crisis and the next shot is of him (or her) bellied up to their local bar and nodding to the bartender? Of course you have. Then the bartender would pour the required drink and it would be downed in a single head throw-back. This is how I felt, only I wanted to act as my own barkeep.

Marie-Lyse and Green Rocks

Marie-Lyse and Green Rocks

As Kelley went for the wine opener I asked if there was ice? When he nodded I told him we were going to have something a little stronger. “Like what?”, he said. “Like Vodka”, I replied. He said he hadn’t had anything but beer or wine in “God knows how long”, but he felt my urgency and pointed to the freezer.

The Beach

The Beach

I told him about my crazy day of trip preparations and the need for a drink, and the discovery of having nothing alcoholic in the house, followed by the trip to my sister-in-law next door where we were supplied with what they had: vodka, and then my inventing this drink, which was derived from pure desperation: lemonade from my daughter’s Lemonade Stand and the vodka from next door.

The cocktail

The cocktail

The drink that was created satisfied me to no end and this is what I wanted to reinvent for Kelley, (after all when drinking one needs a partner!). I paired vodka with homemade lemonade over ice. I wasn’t quiet satisfied as I wanted it to be something special and more unique. It is hard to serve up a simple vodka and lemonade in this day and age with all of those mixologists out there grinding herbs and infusing fruits into drinks that should be photographed and not libated! So, I added a sage leaf that I had brought from my garden and served it to Kelley who said, “Why would you put a leaf into a perfectly good drink?”

Well, he drank it! And, the next day we had another, and another. He seems to be fine with the “leaf ” now.

The drink with a leaf in it!

The drink with a leaf in it!

Anyway, we have 6 more days here in Cape May and the only thing missing is Celine, Kelley’s lovely wife and my good friend who could not make it this time around. This week of our adventures of sun, beach, food and cocktails is dedicated to her so she feels a little like she is here with us.

Recipe for Vodka with Lemonade and Sage

1 shot (1/4 cup) of chilled vodka

2/3 cup lemonade (the most natural you can find)

1 slice lemon

1 sage leaf

Method:

Fill glass with ice. Pour vodka with lemonade into glass. Add a slice of lemon and sage leaf. Feel free to bruise sage before adding to release flavor. Drink!

More to come

More to come

The Amazing Lemon Squeezer and A Great Lemonade Recipe (makes little or lots!)

Have you ever gotten a gift from someone and you think, “gosh, I would never have bought that!” Well this was the Christmas present I received from a woman who I thought would never have bought something like this either? She does not strike me as the “gimmicky” type, however when she gave me this contraption she made sure to justify her reason for buying it.

This is The Amazing Lemon Squeezer!

This is The Amazing Lemon Squeezer!

This woman I speak of is my brother’s Mother-in-law and since his whole family was invited for Christmas, of course Susan, who flew all the way from Texas to be with them, was most certainly welcome too: the more the merrier is the motto I live by when it comes to a grand feast! (read about it HERE)

Side View

Side View

Anyway, I had to open it on the spot as she wanted to assure me that as odd as this thing might look, she had it from a couple of good sources that it worked like a charm and that it could be that kitchen gadget I may not be able to live without once I squeezed my first lemon!

Stick the lemon in like so (the lemon looks bald because i first grated the zest!)

Stick the lemon in like so (the lemon looks bald because I first grated the zest!)

Well that was 5 months ago and other than me moving it out of my way to find something in that draw we all have, you know the one? The drawer that is a tangle of dangerous items like kitchen scissors, pizza cutters, metal kebab skewers and various specialty knives all bound together in a mysterious solid mass. There it languished, unused and ignored, that is until the weekend before last when my daughter wanted to set up a Lemonade Stand (Read about that HERE!). I was faced with the task of squeezing mounds of lemons and suddenly remembered Susan’s gadget-y gift!

And squeeze the handles together to press out the juice

And squeeze the handles together to press out the juice

Squeezing about 30 lemons was a true test for this highly touted tool, and it passed the rigors of my relentless compressions! As I squeezed lemon after lemon I kept remarking how great a job it was doing and felt a little guilty about my contempt upon first seeing it.

Another garden update: I planted this little flower in my cat planter but it seems this cat cannot be pleased!

Another garden update: I planted this little flower in my cat planter but it seems this cat cannot be pleased!

It has now been promoted to a nicer spot in my kitchen and the next time I see Susan I must properly thank her for this juicing gem!

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You will need (for 24 8oz cups):

juice from 20 lemons (have 2 or 3 more on hand just in case it needs adjusting)

3 1/2 cups fine granulated sugar

24 cups water (more if necessary)

Ice cubes

Method:

1 – Mix 4 cups of water with the sugar in a pot and place on medium heat. Heat (stirring occasionally) until sugar completely dissolves. Turn off heat and set aside.

make simple syrup

Make simple syrup

2 – Before cutting the lemons roll back and forth on your work top using a little pressure as you do so. This will soften the lemon and release more juice. Cut the lemons and squeeze juice into a large bowl.

Cut lots of lemons in half

Cut lots of lemons in half

3 – add about 18 cups of cold water followed by the simple syrup mixture (it’s fine if it is still hot or warm). Mix everything together and taste. Add more water if it is too strong or more lemon juice if you want more tang.

*I also make extra simple syrup in case I need it and it also keeps well in a closed container in your fridge for use in the next batch!*

hey presto; lemonade!

Hey presto; lemonade!

Serve over lots of ice in tall pretty glasses!

The Girl With The “Real” Lemonade

I did something so quintessentially “American” this past Memorial Day (yesterday) I had to write about it. This Holiday began after the Civil War to honor those who had died (around 750,000 soldiers) and has evolved over the years to commemorate all Americans who have died in Military Service. It is a National Holiday filled with parades, picnics and barbeques. From what I could gather yesterday, it also seems to be a day that is perfect for a “yard sale” as households were out in droves on their front lawns doing the last of their Spring cleaning.

did you know that to make lemonade you use real lemons!

Did you know that to make lemonade you use real lemons!

Since I too was in that cleaning mode we decided that it was a good time to pile our junk outside and put a bargain price on it or just give it away. All I knew for sure is that when it was carted outside onto my front lawn right on main street, it was never coming back into the house again!

What we did yesterday

What we did yesterday

My daughter was very happy about the prospect of selling stuff and asked if she could man the shop. The reply was “yes” of course because there was no way I was sitting outside amidst a bunch of trash in the hot sun for the afternoon. I was very satisfied to peek out the door every now and then and feed anyone who yelled for food. Off she went upstairs to change into her “work” outfit and five minutes later she told me she would also like to run a Lemonade Stand at the same time?

a cool glass of good lemonade

a cool glass of good lemonade (Will post this recipe later this week!)

Wow – a Lemonade Stand; an image of Mary Ellen from The Waltons setting up her stand to try to make a little extra money popped into my head ! To me, everything about a lemonade stand screams America. It is what every child in this country does, either on TV or in real life, to make a little extra pocket-money to buy that bike or baseball glove they have always wanted. At least that used to be the premise.

get your lemonade!

Get your lemonade!

The New York Times in the 1880’s reported “scores” of Lemonade Stands being set up by enterprising kids all over the country, going head to head with the bars who also sold lemonade. They could easily undercut the bar price and so became the go-to place for a refreshing cold beverage in the days when there was little respite from the heat by way of air conditioners and electric fans. And so the Lemonade Stand was born and was the turf of any American kid who wanted a summer job where they could keep their own hours and be financially independent.

Made with real lemons!

Made with real lemons!

Well, if my child wanted to have a Lemonade Stand  she was going to have to put the work in and have a stand where her lemonade screamed of LEMONS and not the tepid saccharine-ridden powdered stuff I had been served oh so often in a thimble-like cup that left my poor thirst unsatiated. I would have to teach her (while learning myself!) how to make really good, thirst quenching lemonade; you know, “Waltons’ Style”!

The first sale1

The first sale!

We bought bags of lemons, sugar, big plastic glasses and lots of ice and made a fabulous lemonade. It was adjusted and readjusted, (after being tasted by some experts), until it was perfect. The deal is, if you have a good product, you will have customers.

The cash register

The cash register

After she learned what a “float” of money was she was on her way. All she had to do was make a sign, and with a little help, got her table set up and was ready to make some sales. She spent the next 5 hours, waving down cars, selling icy lemonade, enlisting help from her cousins to wave down cars, while even managing to sell a broken-down lawnmower with the words “free” on it for $2!

Something to do when hanging out at The Stand (the "cup song")

Something to do when hanging out at The Stand (the “cup song”)

 The idea that the Lemonade Stand stood for a child’s first entrepreneurial experience was a concept that I could believe in again. She took her tin of cash inside at the end of the day, reimbursed us the float and the lemonade expenses and is ready to do it again some weekend very soon. Who knows, maybe she will manage to sell our other broken-down lawnmower.

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day! 

WILL POST OUR LEMONADE RECIPE LATER THIS WEEK!