Berry Lemonade

This would be a fun treat for the Fourth of July!

3/4 c. sugar
1 c. fresh lemon juice
1 c. fresh or frozen raspberries
ice cubesT
thin lemon slices

Mix sugar, lemon juice and 6 cups of cold water. Mix well until the sugar dissolves.

Puree raspberries in a food processor and then press through a fine sieve into a bowl, discarding the seeds.

Mix the raspberries with the liquid. Chill for at least an hour or until desired temperature.

Add ice and lemon slices if desired.

Homemade Herbal Tea

One of my favorite things to drink in the summer is iced herbal tea.  I’ve acquired all kinds of herbs for this purpose–lemon balm, bergamot, rosa rugosa, a variety of mints and even oregano and rosemary when the occasion arises.  I’ve tried repeatedly to grow lavender, but it does not do well here.  It’s on my list of things to read up on to see if I can create a more successful lavender environment.

My kids just included bouquets of lemon balm in our customers’ produce shares this week, and I wanted to instruct them on how to make one of our favorite summer drinks.  It’s super easy.  FYI, lemon balm has calming properties, similar to chamomile.  You can also spritz the “tea” on your skin to use as a natural insect repellent.

Bring a pot of two quarts of water to boiling.

Wash a handful of whatever type of herbs you want to use, pulling out dead leaves and the occasional wayward blade of grass.

Give the herbs a hearty twist with your hands, wringing them like you would wring out a dish rag.

Put the herbs in the hot water, turn off the heat and cover the pot.  Allow to steep for 5-15 minutes (depending how strong you like your tea).

Sweeten, if desired, then pour over ice and chill.

Hot Cocoa & Toast

Hot Cocoa Soldiers

For as long as I can remember, the first ground-covering snowfall of the season mandated hot cocoa and toast for breakfast. When I was little, the hot cocoa was always homemade, and the toast was always buttered. That’s just the way it rolled in my family. My mom would make a saucepan of steaming cocoa and have a towering stack of buttered toast on the table for us at breakfast, and we would eagerly work our way through that stack of crusty bread (cut on the diagonal) by dipping it into our mugs of cocoa and then into our open mouths. It was a real treat for my siblings and me—something sweet to start our day instead of the usual savory fare.

Mom was always good about getting excited about little things on our behalf. I remember her turning on the outside lights in the morning darkness so that we could watch the fat snowflakes swirl into the feathery piles of snow on our deck. The changing of seasons was always fun for us. Mom enjoyed them all, and she passed the excitement and anticipation along to us. I don’t think I have ever heard her complain about any one season. She takes the good and the not-so-good together with the understanding that each and every season is God’s canvas. I love that about my mom.

We woke up this morning to our first ground-covering snowfall. It was beautiful! The kids and I turned on the outside lights to see how much snow had accumulated while we slept. In a rare burst of yeasty ambition, I had made refrigerator cinnamon rolls yesterday afternoon, so they were waiting to go into the oven when the kids woke up this morning. I had asked them yesterday if they would be okay with a variation of our tradition—hot cocoa and cinnamon rolls—if the forecasted snow did, indeed, come. They assured me that they could handle the deviation from our normal…as long as the hot cocoa and toast could be enjoyed on another snowy morning. I thought their request was only fair.

 

Sometimes, it isn’t the actual traditions that are the most meaningful parts of a memory. It is the feelings of warmth and love and being treasured that live on in our spirits.