By Dan Wagner
Going back in time, who could not remember driving down a country road and seeing the road sign for fresh homemade lemonade? I remember years ago, sitting on the edge of the yard myself with a folding table and selling fresh-squeezed lemonade with just the right amount of sugar. Next to the table, we had bushel and chip baskets filled to the rim of fresh garden tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers picked early that morning. It is here with the roadside stand that the true American spirit of entrepreneurship began for many kids.
Lemons, as we know, are the perfect citrus for turning into a refreshing summertime beverage. Just for starters, as a beverage we can go with an herb garden lemonade. Take two fresh rosemary sprigs, a quarter cup of cup basil leaves and five sprigs of mint, two cups sugar, six cups water and one-and-a-half cups fresh-squeezed lemons and bring to a quick boil, then chill. A raspberry lemonade, cucumber lemonade or watermelon lemonade are also refreshing on a hot summer day. One of my family’s favorites is named after local world-renowned golfer Arnold Palmer. This beverage made with half iced tea and half lemonade has become one of the most requested cold beverages sold in restaurants nationwide today.
Within the kitchen, lemons are so versatile that they can be used in much of every aspect of cooking. Lemons have the right balance to give many dishes the perfect amount of sweetness with tartness – from lemon short cake with fresh berries to a lemon tart. The outside of the lemon, called the zest, brings great flavor into a cup of tea, dressing or on top of a salad. When it comes to the entrée, lemons with chicken is a great combination. A pan-roasted lemon chicken or rosemary with lemon has a burst of flavor you might be looking for. I find it best to squeeze the whole lemon into the dish and then add the lemon during the cooking process. Smother seafood on the grill with sliced lemons and fresh dill. Last but least, don’t forget to utilize lemons in the process of preserving. Lemons on apples will keep them fresh and white when using in a salad or dish.
Let’s not forget the benefits of lemons. When it comes to your immune system, it gives it a large boost due to the high amount of vitamin C. If we are looking for a way to assist in digestive and heart health, lemons can assist. For cleaning around the house, add vinegar and lemons for an all-purpose cleaner. Cleaning that nasty copper pot, a little sea salt and lemon will bring back the shine.
In closing, one might want to know where have the roadside lemonade stands have gone. Maybe it’s just that the new generation is behind doors, connected to a different world. Maybe the regulations from local and state government have stifled the pure-in-heart entrepreneurial spirit within oneself. Maybe we are just getting squeezed. So if we are getting squeezed, then we might as well just squeeze lemons. Don’t forget the sugar! Have a great summer!
Watermelon Iced Tea
Yield: 4 servings
Place watermelon, raspberries and water in container of electric blender, cover and blend until smooth. Strain through fine mesh strainer into pitcher. Stir in sugar and lemon juice until sugar dissolves. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
Summer Spiced Zucchini Bread
Yields: 2 loaves
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups grated, unpeeled zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup chopped lightly toasted pecans
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees and grease two 8x4x2 1/2 loaf pans .
2. In a bowl, mix eggs until foamy. Add oil, sugar, zucchini and extract, mix well. Add cinnamon, flour, salt and baking powder; mix until well blended. Add nuts and stir. Take batter and divide into each pan evenly.
3. Place in oven and bake until loaves rise and become golden brown ( 50 to 60 minutes). Check with toothpick in center for doneness. Toothpick will come out dry when done.
Crab Lovers Stuffed Tomatoes
Yield: 6 servings
6 large fresh vine ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 small stem of fresh basil leaves, chopped
6 leaves of basil ( for garnish)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cups jumbo lump crabmeat
1. Remove skin from tomato. Take tomato and score on bottom, making an X. Remove core from top of the tomato. Place tomato in boiling water until skin is blistered, 10 seconds. Place tomato in ice bath to stop the cooking. Remove skin of tomato.
2. With a spoon, scoop out the insides from the top, also removing seeds.
3. Mix together mayonnaise, chopped basil, fresh lemon juice and mustard. Add crab meat and then season with creole spices. Add salt if needed.
4. Stuff the tomatoes with crab salad, garnish with fresh basil leaf and serve.