Harbingers of springtime abound right now: for the Christians, it's Easter; for the pagans (and the Communists?), Mayday; for our new CSA, the packing of strawberries in the box; and for me, several food-related milestones, like the first lemonade of the year and the first al fresco meal. We ate outdoors with B's parents this weekend in Sacramento, but technically our first outdoor meal was a few weeks ago when we were visiting my parents in San Diego. (My mom likes eating outside so much that many years ago my dad bought her outdoor heat lamps for Valentine's Day.)
Though everyone's favorite store (Costco, that is) often carries heat lamps, an easier way to bring springtime indoors is with lemonade. Once you've tasted this fresh-squeezed lemonade, the metallic tang of those lemon-flavored Snapples and Nantucket Nectars and others will become unbearable (don't say I didn't warn you). This lemonade is sweet and cool and refreshing. The recipe was designed with all age groups in mind, as it originated from the Anne of Green Gables Cookbook I had as a child. On reflection, I can't actually remember any scenes with lemonade (though it has been a while since I pored over the book).
The syrup is easy-peasy (equal parts lemon juice, sugar, and water) and, once mixed, stays in the fridge for at least a week. You can also substitute lime juice to make lime-ade (my brother is a particular fan of this iteration), but as I have plenty of Ponderosa lemons from my generous book club host S last Sunday, my next batch will once again be lemonade. It is essential to use fresh citrus for this recipe. Once you've made the syrup, simply dilute three to one with water or soda, garnish with a sprig of mint or rosemary, and drink!
I know the picture below for some reason really looks alcoholic (in other trickery, that glass has straight sides in real life), so you can also add some vodka if you like. Enjoy!
Adapted from Anne of Green Gables Cookbook
Makes approximately 8 c. lemonade
Time: 20 minutes active, 45 minutes total
For lemon syrup:
approximately 1 c. sugar
approximately 1 c. water
For the lemonade:
6 c. still water or soda water
mint or rosemary sprigs, for garnish, leaves slightly bruised if desired
Squeeze lemons, and measure the amount of juice produced (it will be approximately one cup). Set lemon juice aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together sugar and water to make a 1:1:1 proportion with the measured amount of lemon juice. Once sugar is completely dissolved, turn off heat. Allow simple syrup to cool (approximately twenty minutes, or longer). Mix lemon juice with simple syrup and refrigerate, tightly-covered (syrup will keep for at least one week).
When ready to make lemonade, mix together lemon syrup and water in a 1:3 proportion (that is, 1/4 c. syrup for every 3/4 c. water). Add plenty of ice. Garnish with mint or rosemary, if desired.