Tuesday, June 9, 2009

When Life Gives you Lemons

I'm sitting here drinking a glass of lemonade. Well, what we call lemonade most of the time since its actually the Wal-Mart knock off of Crystal Light. I just made it a little while ago and the half gallon pitcher is almost empty.

I got to thinking about Nana's Lemonade. One glass of that over ice, chipped from the big block, would last at least an hour while I stretched out on a blanket under the grape arbor, reading my latest Nancy Drew or Trixie Beldon mystery. Only Grandad was allowed to drink it down in big gulps after he worked on his Peonies. The rest of us knew to just sip the nectar that was the perfect blend of sweet and tart.

I didn't realize how much work Nana lovingly put into every pitcher she made until I was older. In those days we just knew there would be the big glass pitcher on the second shelf of the refrigerator after lunch and woe to the granddaughter who snitched a slice of lemon that was floating on top!

Nana's Homemade Lemonade

5 lemons
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 1/4 quarts water

Peel the rinds from the 5 lemons and cut them into 1/2 inch slices. Set the lemons aside.
Place the rinds in a bowl and sprinkle the sugar over them. Let this stand for about one hour, so that the sugar begins to soak up the oils from the lemons.
Bring water to a boil in a covered saucepan and then pour the hot water over the sugared lemon rinds.
Allow this mixture to cool for 20 minutes and then remove the rinds.
Squeeze the lemons into another bowl.
Pour the juice through a strainer into the sugar mixture.
Stir well, pour into pitcher and pop it in the fridge!
Keep lemon loving grandkids out of the pitcher.
Serve with ice cubes.

At home, in Levittown, we made lemonade from Kool Aid, and sometimes the Hoye kids would set up a lemonade stand on the corner of Mockorange Lane. Denis and I did most of the work, of course, but we knew the value of having our little brother and sister close at hand. they provided the cute factor and they thought nickles were better than dimes because they were bigger so we "paid" them with those.Many years later, my 3 oldest boys did the same thing in El Paso. Lone Duck and JuggleSorcerer must have gotten their business sense from Denis and me. They built the stand and made the drink. They even sent away for the free Kool Aid pitcher. The summer after Sage appeared in the Christmas play at the Ft. Bliss dinner theater, however, they made a new sign that read Tiny Tim's Olde Tyme Lemonade. They made him sit there, on the corner, while they played ball. And, of course, the cute factor worked again.

Sage wasn't quite as young as my sister and brother had been. He knew the value of the coins he collected when the soldiers walked or drove past his corner on a hot afternoon. He also had experienced the whole Shirley Temple/Tiny Tim bar drink thing. So he saved his "pay" and bought a pitcher of his own and made pink lemonade . He painstakingly made his own sign for that reading, For Girls Only.

Speaking of Pink Lemonade...I picked up some interesting speculation while trying to find out how the Pioneers managed to make lemonade on the wagon trains. Did you know that two different guys claimed they invented it?

The New York Times credited Henry E. "Sanchez" Allott as the inventor of pink lemonade in his obituary: "At 15 he ran away with a circus and obtained the lemonade concession. One day while mixing a tub of the orthodox yellow kind he dropped some red cinnamon candies in by mistake. The resulting rose-tinted mixture sold so surprisingly well that he continued to dispense his chance discovery."


"according to carnival historian Joe Nickell, in his 2005 book Secrets of the Sideshows ; a man named Pete Conklin who ran a circus lemonade and peanut concession actually was the one who invented the drink. One day in 1857, while Conklin was making regular lemonade, he ran out of water. In desperation, he used the pink water from a tub that one of the bareback riders had used to wash her red tights. Unfazed, Conklin added some lemon slices and sold the concoction as “strawberry lemonade,” promptly doubling his sales. And, as they say, when life gives you lemons …."

Here's a link to a real American hero who understood what that saying meant. Alex made lemonade.

See ya down the road,


Geezerguy said...

Good research. I think I'll pass on the PINK lemonade from now on.

~loneduck~ said...


spiritualastronomer said...

The lemonade recipe sounds (and looks) delicious. But, no pink for me, either.

hilly said...

LD loves lemonade to this day, fresh lemons and all. ( He does cheat from time to time and uses lemon juice) Um, I think I'll stay away fromt he pink also.