August 13, 2009

Considering the lemon

It's a lovely thought: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Take life's tartness, use it to your advantage. I myself, become distracted at the first mention of the word. Lemon. The useful, giving, perfectly colored fruit. When I get my hands on the smooth, deeply rich yellow variety, my first thought is to get it onto a periwinkle or cobalt blue plate. Just enjoy the color. But then ideas begin to roil. Into a tart? A little lighter on the sugar so the nature of the fruit sings into the taste buds? Over the tender piece of slightly breaded chicken? Just the juice trickling over the savory bird. I was recently delighted by a drip of lemon juice squeezed over a piece of Japanese Red Snapper for sushi. Delight the lemon.
Occasionally though, inspiration comes from the literal. So in my house of lemonade lovers we've tried our hand at perfecting the perfect glass of lemonade. This, of course, begins with kids (or their kid predecessors) making lemonade-in-a-restaurant while w-a-i-t-i-n-g for the server to take the order or to finally bring the food. It's much more interesting than coloring the provided pages and requires just the glass of water you requested, along with some lemon slices, "please," ostensibly for iced water and that little box of sweet packages already on the table. Squeeze the lemon. Add the sugar, "is three packets enough?" and voila. A glass of water with lemon and sugar.
At home we've dabbled with a stand up simple syrup, or superfine sugar, different varieties of lemons and enjoyed the results but never quiet reached the ah ha! until we learned to muddle.
As it turns out, lemons really do wish to become a fine lemonade and one made not by a packaging plant bearing the name of a fabulous actor, but by the rest of us, in the kitchen.
Our first attempt at muddling brought wondrous squeals of surprise. Tart, yummy, real lemonade. The best, if you're a twelve year old boy. And there's fun in the making. Lemons are washed thoroughly because the skin is part of the secret. Ends are cut and dismissed. Lemons are sliced in their standing on end fabulous oval shape and everything goes in a flattish bowl except the seeds. We add regular old table sugar (and no hfcs) then mash away with a potato masher until the resulting liquid is thickish as well as juicy. The smashed lemons are removed and pushed through a sieve, water is added and there you have it: a glass of pure delight. The frangrance and the taste of summer.

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