Whet Your Whistle: Cool And Flavorful Drinks For Summer

IN THE KITCHEN

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It's hot. It's hotter and drier than it has been in a long time. Are you staying hydrated? Summer drinks are not only refreshing; they are a necessity for beating the heat.

Soft drinks are fine, but they don't quite satisfy my thirst in summer. I will usually go for the ice water, instead of the soda.

Other favorites are iced tea and lemonade.

Growing up, we had iced tea all year-round. It was a matter of boiling some water and putting between four and six teabags in a small saucepan, filling it up with the water, covering it and letting it sit for four or five minutes. My family liked sweet tea, so we'd dump about 3/4 cup of sugar in a pitcher, add the hot tea, stir to dissolve the sugar, and then fill the pitcher with cold water.

Of course, in the summer, we made sun tea. Because as a family we drank so much of it, it didn't last for long -- we made a fresh batch daily, sometimes two. Once I was on my own, I always had leftover, but I discovered it did not taste so good after more than a day in the refrigerator. Consequently, I went back to the boil and steep method, which seemed to stay fresher longer.

Lemonade in the summer was a specialty at my grandmother's house. My sisters and I frequently spent at least a couple of weeks every summer with our grandparents in Oklahoma. Our paternal grandmother made the best lemonade I have ever tasted -- not that I am biased or anything.

Unfortunately, I never really paid attention to how she made it. The only information I have about how she made it was relayed to me by my father, sometime after my grandmother died. He said she just used the frozen concentrate, but instead of using just one can, she would put in two, plus add sugar.

A sweet tooth is a genetic disorder in our family.

I have not tried making my grandmother's lemonade yet, but as hot as it seems to be staying, I might give it a try. Very little else can beat the heat -- and when you have it -- or humidity like a big glass of icy lemonade.

Here are a couple of "formal" recipes for lemonade, if you'd like to try it at your next porch or picnic supper.

Homemade Lemonade

From cooks.com

Nothing beats lemonade as a summertime refresher. This recipe shows you how to make your own lemon syrup. Keep it in the refrigerator and, whenever you're in the mood, just stir a few spoonfuls into water. For sparkling lemonade, add club soda or seltzer to the syrup.

6 lemons

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

Grate 1/4 teaspoon of the yellow zest from one of the lemons. Squeeze 3/4 cup juice. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan. Boil until syrup measured 3/4 cup, 3 to 4 minutes. Add zest and juice to syrup. Refrigerate. Add 3 tablespoons syrup or more to taste to 1 cup water and pour over ice.

Serves 8.

Homemade Lemonade 2

From cooks.com

2 lemons, sliced

1 cup sugar

In a bowl, mash lemons and sugar together with a pestle.

Fill a 2-quart pitcher 1/3 full of ice. Add lemon-sugar mixture.

In the bowl in which lemons were mashed, fill with water and pour into the pitcher. Fill pitcher with water until full. Makes 2 quarts.

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