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Bless Your Spoon: Lemonade, fruity drinks help quench thirst

One of my favorite childhood memories was setting up lemonade stands in our driveway on hot summer days.

I mixed instant powdered lemonade with cold water in a pitcher and poured the drinks into small paper cups. Neighbors pulled their cars off-road and meandered over, making polite comments while dropping a few coins in an old cigar box. If a customer paid more than was due – a value-added, store-bought, boxed chocolate chip cookie was added to their order.

While I managed to make a few dollars, one thing was for sure – it was the worst lemonade and cookie, ever.

Since the days of our childhoods – we’ve come a long way from instant fruit drinks. With fresh fruit so plentiful, we can now enjoy simple beverages that cool our bodies while replenishing nutrients on hot summer days.

Today’s recipes focus on fresh whole fruits, peels, and juices combined with sodas and waters. These combos do an excellent job of keeping you hydrated. The fruity drinks are lighter, more refreshing, and quench thirst better than those combined with milk products – although smoothies are delicious. Included are a couple of daiquiri recipes – for adults only.

One of my favorite kitchen products is my Cuisinart juicer. The electric appliance is compact and uncomplicated, making small juicing jobs a cinch whether preparing food or beverages. Experiment by starting with today’s recipe blends or create new, intriguing tastes using your favorite fruits and juices.

Summer’s up ahead. Wouldn’t it be great to see a revival of the end of driveway, curbside lemonade stands – and relive former days with kids and grandkids?  And, while you’re at it – take it up a notch – and serve a fresh fruit option.

Lemonade stands were cool – the ultimate, summer, right of passage for many of us.

LIME REFRESHER

3 juiced limes

Ice cubes

Chilled club soda

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup water

Make a hole in each lime and microwave on high power for 12 seconds. Thoroughly juice limes. Pour lime juice into two tall glasses. Add ice cubes. Fill glasses with club soda.  In a saucepan, make simple syrup by combining equal amounts of sugar and water. Mix well, and bring to a boil while stirring until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool. Sweeten to taste. Yield: 16 oz. or 2 servings.

PERFECTLY PINK LEMONADE

1 cup water

1 ½ cup sugar

18 medium lemons or 3 cups fresh juice

½ cup cranberry juice

5 cups cold water

In a saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil while stirring until sugar dissolves. Cool thoroughly. Set aside. Microwave a few lemons at one time for 1 ½ minutes to soften. Cut lemons in half and squeeze juice into pitcher. Remove any seeds. Repeat until all lemons are juiced. Allow juice to cool. Then add the cooled sugar syrup to the pitcher that contains lemon juice. Add cranberry juice. Mix well. Stir in the water and mix well. Yield: 2 quarts

FLORIDA ORANGEADE

2 ½ cups water

½ cup sugar

2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ thinly sliced lemon

Ice cubes

Garnish of fresh mint

In a pitcher, add water and sugar. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Add orange juice, lemon juice, and slices. Mix well. Refrigerate until cold and ready to serve. Fill glasses with ice. Fill glasses with orangeade and garnish with fresh mint.  Yield: 2 servings.

FRUIT TREE BLOSSOM

1 peeled, pitted, chunked ripe nectarine

1 peeled, pitted, chunked ripe peach

1 peeled, chunked ripe banana

½ tsp. almond extract

24 oz. chilled ginger ale

In an electric blender, combine nectarine, peach, banana, and almond extract. Blend until smooth. Divide fruit mixture among 5 glasses and then fill each with ginger ale. Stir gently and serve. Yield: 5 servings.

STRAWBERRY DAIQUIRI

1 ½ oz. light rum

½ oz. lime juice

½ oz. strawberry liqueur

1 tsp. sugar

5 ripe strawberries

½ cup crushed ice

In blender, combine rum, lime juice, liqueur, sugar, strawberries, and ice. Blend until smooth. Pour in chilled wine glass. Yield:  1 individual serving.

RASPBERRY RED QUENCHER

1 quart whole red raspberries

2 cups sugar

1 liter chilled sparkling mineral water

In an electric blender, puree raspberries. To a large pitcher, add raspberries and sugar. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight to form berry syrup. Before serving, add sparkling mineral water. Mix slowly. Pour through strainer into chilled glasses. Yield: 8 servings of 1 cup.

BANANA DAIQUIRI

4 medium ripe bananas

¾ cup light rum

¼ cup limeade concentrate

22-24 ice cubes

Banana slices

Fresh mint sprigs

Peel bananas and wrap in clear plastic. Freeze 1 hour. Unwrap and cut into chunks. In an electric blender, combine banana chunks, rum, and frozen limeade concentrate. Cover and blend until smooth. While blender is running, add ice cubes one at a time.  Garnish each serving with a banana slice and mint sprig. Yield: 4 10 oz. servings.

SOUTHERN WATERMELON COOLER

1 ¼ cups water

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

2 cups fresh orange juice

6 cups seeded diced watermelon

Ice cubes

Lemon slices

In a saucepan, combine water, lemon juice, and sugar. Bring to a boil while stirring for 2 ½ minutes and allow sugar to dissolve. Cool thoroughly. Set aside. In a pitcher, add water, lemon juice, orange juice, and watermelon juice. For watermelon juice, in a food processor, add seeded, diced watermelon and blend until liquid. Strain through cheesecloth. Add watermelon juice to pitcher with other fruit juices. Then, add cooled lemon mixture that was set aside. Mix well. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. To serve, pour over ice and garnish with lemon slice.

MELON SLUSHY

2 cups cubed cantaloupe or honeydew melon

6 oz. thawed, undiluted, frozen orange juice concentrate

¾ cup chilled club soda

Crushed ice

Garnish of mint sprigs, strawberries

In an electric blender, combine melon cubes and juice concentrate. Blend until smooth. Blend in club soda. Pour over ice in glasses. Garnish with fresh mint and strawberry.

ICED MINT TEA

7 cups water

11 tea bags

3 juiced lemons

1 juiced orange

2 cups sugar

½ cup fresh mint

Bring the 7 cups of water to a boil. Steep tea for 6 minutes.  Pour over juices and sugar. Mix well to dissolve sugar. Float mint leaves for 30 minutes.

PINEAPPLE –LEMON COOLER

46 oz. pineapple juice

1 Tbsp. crushed fresh mint leaves

1 Tbsp. crushed fresh lemon balm leaves

¼ cup fresh lime juice

¼ cup granulated sugar

12 oz. chilled club soda

Crushed ice

Fresh mint sprigs for garnish

In a saucepan, bring pineapple juice to a boil. In a pitcher or container, pour hot juice over mint and lemon balm leaves.  Add lime juice and sugar. Mix well. Steep at least 30 minutes. Strain liquid into a serving pitcher. Refrigerate. Before serving, add club soda to the liquid.  Pour over crushed ice in tall glasses. Yield: 8 servings of 1 cup.