One of my fondest memories of summer as a child is of sitting in a white wooden booth with my friend, Dawn, drinking strawberry mint lemonade from a tall, cool glass in Misty's - a tiny, crowded restaurant in the middle of the village of Woodstock.
The lemonade was sweet and sour (as lemonade tends to be...), the strawberry slices were delightfully "pickled" by the lemon and the sugar, and the mint kind of melted to fill in all the flavor spaces left over. We particularly enjoyed this treat after a visit to Big Deep, one of our local swimming holes.
Many years have passed since those halcyon days of youthful summer (yet I am only slightly taller than I was then - I think I must've hit my simply towering adult height of 5' 2" in 6th grade..) Misty quit the restaurant business years ago and now owns a charming shop down the street that sells French antiques and really good chocolates. And as I have yet to find another restaurant whose strawberry lemonade can hold a candle to the stuff Misty used to serve, I just make my own!
It's easy. And delicious. And refreshing. And we pregnant ladies NEED as much of all of those things as we can get, right? Especially when we've brilliantly timed the conception of our second (and FINAL) child to ensure that we will be serenely "enjoying" the last month of pregnancy in the blistering heat and stupefying humidity of August. At least we don't live in DC anymore - that is something to be thankful for...
But I digress. Back to the beverage. Mint is basically a weed (though in a rather ironic twist, the only time I've ever had trouble growing it was when I actually intended to - my pot of mint in Berkeley was perennially beset by bugs...) I think the trick is not to want it and then it flourishes!
Now we've got a bunch that grows wild at the border of our yard and I don't do anything to or for it except pick some when I need it. Which is how I like it.
Strawberries are at their peak of freshness and flavor right now. I used the last of the berries we picked at Story Farm last weekend to make this batch of lemonade.
I used some organic cane sugar from Trader Joe's as my sweetener but you can use maple syrup if you prefer - it will be a little easier to dissolve than sugar crystals. But I wouldn't recommend using honey as it has too assertive a flavor - we're really just going for sweet here, no added flavor needed.
You can juice your own lemons or buy the bottled organic juice. The fresh stuff is better, the bottled stuff is easier. It's up to you -- and there would be absolutely NO judgment from me -- I often use the bottled stuff even though I know it's "cheating".
Start by muddling (which is an awesome little bit of cocktail-making lingo that means mashing ingredients together with something big and heavy) the sliced strawberries and mint leaves with some sugar and lemon juice in the bottom of your pitcher or jar.
I like to let this mixture macerate for a few hours or overnight to let the sugar draw the juices out of the strawberries (a trick I learned from making jam.) Then add the rest of the lemon juice and either cold water or some sparkling water if you're so inclined.Adjust the amounts of sugar, lemon and water to taste and serve! Add ice cubes if you can't refrigerate before serving.
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