I have fond memories of setting up a card table lemonade “stand” in our driveway when I was a kid. Every summer my family had a yard sale and my little brother and I capitalized on the relatively high traffic of folks wandering through our neatly organized junk (at least a whopping 20). It was hot, humid, river valley Cincinnati summertime, and in my mind the next best thing to a slice of watermelon was a tall glass of lemonade.
Now, mind you, our lemonade was of the “fresh frozen” variety from the Kroger grocery store chain (Kroger’s if you’re a resident of the “Queen City.” Cincinnatians like to pluralize things, in addition to shortening your name without asking.) You put the cardboard canister in the fridge overnight to thaw or else you had to stir like mad and it just slowed down the whole process. We didn’t want to have to wait for the treat. And a treat it was. I didn’t know anything but “fresh frozen” lemonade, and it tasted just fine to me! Also, a sugary beverage wasn’t something we were allowed with any regularity. But, that’s okay. There was always watermelon. And ice cream. I’m not sure about the logic there but, nonetheless, we were happy to have the lemonade and we didn’t ask any questions!
We sold our lemonade in styrofoam cups to nice midwestern people who apparently couldn’t resist the sales-savvy of a couple of tow-headed kids. And we never got a single complaint... :)
Thirty-some years later and now a chef, I was asked to prepare a tasting for The Secret City’s (thesecretcity.org) monthly celebration of the arts. I’ve been curating the food offering for the last six months and this month the theme was “Memory.” I scrolled through my childhood and remembered the lemonade stand. So, 180 tastings of lemonade it would be.
As promised, Secret City goers, Here’s my spin on that childhood treat of a refreshing summertime beverage.
- Juice of 30 lemons
- 1 Cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers
- 2 Sprigs of fresh rosemary (or 1 Tablespoon dried)
First you make a “simple syrup” :
1. Combine the sugar, hibiscus, rosemary, and two cups of water.
2. Bring to a simmer and stir.
3. Set aside to steep and cool for an hour. It will turn bright fuchsia.
4. Combine the lemon juice with the hibiscus rosemary syrup.
5. Pour it in a gallon jug, top it off with water, and shake well.
6. To serve, pour over ice and garnish with the sliced lemons.
Variations: Try putting something different in the simple syrup (ginger, mint, basil, etc.) AND/OR replace the water with seltzer!