Posted Jul 29, 2011 in Food | 0 Comments

ModernHostess: When Life Gives You Lemons…

Frankly, I’ve never understood this expression. I mean, I get it. When you’re in a bad situation, make some proverbial lemonade and make the best of it. But what’s so bad about lemons?? Sure, maybe they taste a little sour if you bite right into one… but as an ingredient, they’re delicious, nutritious, and so versatile! Savory, sweet, fresh… the lemon does it all, and I love it.

I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, the only lemon juice I ever saw was that prepared stuff that you get in a bottle. I’m sorry, but that’s not real lemon juice! Well, maybe it is, but seriously, the taste does not compare to fresh lemon. And it’s not like real lemons are hard to find/use. Plus, the bottled stuff doesn’t have the same nutritional profile as fresh lemons, and it’s actually packed with preservatives. And, you can’t get any tasty lemon zest (the yellow outer skin) from that bottle. Need another reason? Squeezing a fresh lemon makes your hands smell good (especially if you’ve just chopped some garlic or onions)!

So what can you do with lemons besides make lemonade, you ask? Well, a lot! Squeeze some fresh lemon on cooked fish or chicken or use juice as part of a marinade. For extra lemony goodness, use the zest (you will need a zester or a grater with very small holes), which actually has a stronger lemon flavour than the juice alone. Try lemon juice instead of vinegar on a salad. Squeeze some lemon in a glass of water or seltzer. Also delicious in tea, hot or iced. Flavour pasta or cooked vegetables with fresh lemon juice. You can even squeeze some lemon juice into the water when steaming veggies for a little extra kick. Enjoy some lemon with dessert too… a squeeze of fresh lemon on juicy berries will make them taste sweeter.

In conclusion, I would like to apologize to all the lemons out there for having to bear the brunt of being seen as some sort of sour punishment that life bestows upon us. When life gives you lemons, say thank you and make yourself something better than lemonade… spiked lemonade (recipe below), a fresh summer cocktail that will remind you of how lucky you actually are to have gotten your hands on some lemons. Enjoy!

Spiked Lemonade
-3/4 cup sugar
-3/4 cup water
-Fresh ginger, cut in chunks (optional and/or to taste)
-1 tsp lemon zest
-1 cup fresh lemon juice (or more, to taste)
-6 cups water
-1/3 cup gin or vodka (optional)

Combine sugar, water and ginger, if using, in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Set aside and let cool.

Combine lemon zest, juice, water and gin/vodka (if using). Add cooled simple syrup and stir. Serve over ice. Garnish with fresh lemon slices, if desired.

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