Lemons

Sometimes life gives you lemons. And sometimes a surprise comes with your lemons. A month or so ago I picked up a bag of lemons, probably at Costco or HEB. Tucked in the Sunkist sack was a robinet pour citron. Fancy, huh?

This tiny yellow faucet easily twists into the stem end of a lemon and with a squeeze you have fresh juice.

Can you stand the excitement?

Here’s the twist. I like to drink hot lemon water. Quirky, I know, but it works for me. Pre robinet pour citron, I would slice a lemon in half, attempt to flick out the seeds, squeeze the lemon into my favorite mug, and generally ignore the citrusy juice running elbow-bound down my arm. Clearly life has changed for the better since the robinet pour citron.

Why am I so passionate about lemon water? Because of it’s many health benefits, of course. Lemon juice is rich in several essential nutrients like potassium, calcium, and magnesium. And, it’s loaded with Vitamin C and antioxidants which provide a definite boost to your immune system. Lemon water is known for its gentle cleansing properties and aids in flushing unwanted toxins from your system. It boots your metabolism and helps regulate other digestive functions like heartburn, nausea and indigestion.

So, keep your eyes peeled for your very own robinet pour citron. In the meantime, slice a lemon and enjoy it in a warm cup of water for your health.

A Votre Sante!

Basil Lemonade

Yesterday Littlest and I made Basil Lemon Simple Syrup. As soon as her feet hit the ground this morning she was begging for Basil Lemonade. What could I say? After all, she deserved to taste the fruit of her labor.

We squeezed (and squeezed) lemons, added our delicious syrup, and in no time at all we were savoring fresh lemonade. Littlest loves it!  I must admit, it’s crazy good lemonade and Addie’s revelation to add balsamic vinegar was sheer brilliance.

Kick off your summer with a splash and enjoy this tasty twist on lemonade. I’m making more syrup as we speak just to keep a stash in the fridge. Husband and I might even try a Basil Lemon Gimlet this weekend. I’ll keep you posted.

Basil Lemonade

2 cups basil lemon simple syrup

2 cups cold water

2 cups ice cubes

1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 6-8 lemons)

1 splash balsamic vinegar

Stir together ingredients in a large pitcher.  Pour into ice filled glasses and enjoy!

Makes about 6 cups of lemonade.

Basil Lemon Simple Syrup

Earlier this week food writer and friend Addie Broyles tweeted her food revelation du jour: a splash of balsamic vinegar does wonders for basil lemonade. Thus my inspiration for basil lemonade was born. While the older three Littles are away at camp this week, Littlest and I are enjoying the relative quietness and time to do things sans older siblings.  When I asked if she would help me pick basil to make a syrup for lemonade she assured me she knew exactly what to do.

First we collected about 4 cups of basil from Husband’s garden. Note: If you allow your three year old to hand pick each leaf of basil, this recipe will actually take some time. Plan accordingly. The trade off that your toddler will be making her first simple syrup will be well worth your patience.

Once we had the main ingredient hunted and gathered, making the syrup was very, well…simple.

Basil Lemon Simple Syrup

4 cups fresh basil (handpicked by toddler optional)

4 cups water

2 cups sugar (we use organic cane sugar)

zest of one large lemon

Zest the lemon with vegetable peeler so that you have nice large pieces. In a medium pot bring basil, lemon, sugar and water to a boil, stirring to help dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and let stand covered for one hour.  Transfer to a large mason jar, or sealable container, and refrigerate for at least one hour.  I left ours to chill overnight. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh colander or sieve into a large bowl.  With the back of a wooden spoon or using your hands press or squeeze all the liquid from the basil and lemon.  Discard the solids. Pour back into the large mason jar. The syrup will stay fresh refrigerated for up to one week.

Voila! Basil lemon simple syrup. So simple even a toddler can make it.

We’ll use our syrup to make the Basil Lemonade tomorrow!

Cayenne Cocktail

I love it when friends enlighten me to something new and wonderful.  Such is the case with the Cayenne Cocktail.  Raw food rock star Susan O’Brien of Hail Merry and I were chatting the other day and she gave me a great idea for beverages to serve at the Spring Cleanse dinner party.  I must confess my ignorance as I had never heard of The Master Cleanse or The Lemonade Diet.  Far too rigorous a cleanse for me, I must admit I love the lemonade.  The original recipe contains a hefty amount of maple sugar, but since I’m not fasting I’ve made my version calorie friendly (as in none!)  by substituting stevia.   I’ve also taken the liberty of dubbing it the Cayenne Cocktail because it is tasty and merits being savored in a highball glass garnished with mint.  Before a healthy meal, naturally.

Cayenne Cocktail

8 oz filtered water

2 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 TBS organic maple syrup (I use 1/2 packet of stevia instead!)

1/10 tsp cayenne pepper

ice

fresh mint leaves

In a cocktail shaker, add water, lemon juice, maple syrup or stevia, and cayenne pepper.  Shake vigorously and pour over ice in a frosted cocktail glass. Garnish with mint.

TGIF!

Tuaca & Dulce de Leche

It’s New Year’s Eve! While the rest of the world celebrates the dawn of 2010, Husband & I will quietly (well, four Littles quiet) toast 12 years of marriage tonight.

New  Year’s Eve looks different for us every year.  Some years we celebrate with friends, once (maybe twice) we’ve stolen 24 hours away alone, and on at least four New Year’s Eves we’ve held a tiny newborn in our arms as we clang our champagne flutes and kissed at midnight 9:45 pm.

But there are some constants in our twelve years of celebration.  We were given gorgeous silver champagne flutes for our wedding toast and each year we use them for a special anniversary toast.  And, for at least half the decade + we’ve been married we’ve enjoyed a special spirited dessert.

Only the festive, over-the-top, decadent cocktail dessert has NO name.  So I need your help.  I’ll share our New Year’s Eve / Anniversary dessert with you, if you’ll help me come up with a name.  Deal?

I get the easy end of the deal, as there are only two ingredients to share:  Tuaca and Haagen Dazs Dulce de Leche ice cream.

Tuaca is an Italian liqueur which dates back to the Renaissance. The northern Tuscany delicacy is known for its distinct sweet flavor with hints of vanilla and orange. I’m sure the 16th century Italians who first created Tuaca would cringe at mixing it with American ice cream, but you my friends will beam ear to ear with this unique combination.

You’ll need Tuaca…

And, of course the caramel ice cream sensation….

There really is no magic to the recipe.  You just blend the softened ice cream with one or two shots of tuaca.  I serve the dessert in big stemless wine glasses with a spoon on the side.

No, the Littles will not be partaking in our annual New Year’s Eve dessert.  We have another decade until the oldest Little can join us in this tradition. I’ll be serving the Littles Whoopie Pie.

Because everyone deserves a little whoopie on New Year’s Eve!

Now, please help me name this drink! It’s so creamy, delicious, mouth watering good it’s just a shame to leave it nameless any longer.

Happy New Year!

Yogi Tea & Some Seriously Expired Spices

When was the last time you cleaned out your spices? Seriously.

Here’s the thing. I thought my spices were organized.  I really did. I keep my spices in mesh baskets and have them organized by categories like baking spices, savory spices, Italian herbs, Mexican spices, etc.  And I thought they were all well within the ‘best if used by’ dates.  Let’s just say when I started packing up the spices today I found myself laughing out loud at how organized I really am. Which apparently is NOT.

We moved into The Schell Cafe in 2005.  We moved out of our kitchen in 2007 for a pregnancy induced mini-kitchen renovation. (Please don’t remind Husband of this.) Then in 2008 we moved out for the current whole house project.  (Please don’t remind Husband of this one either). The point of all this random Cafe trivia is that I’ve packed, unpacked and repacked my kitchen enough times that I have absolutely no excuse for all the expired spices I just unearthed.  I’m telling you, I found spices that expired before our third grade son was even born!  Surely someone snuck into our rent house and secretly put all their old spices in my cabinets just to play a very funny trick on me?!?!  Riiiight.

To calm my frazzled nerves and ease the pain and embarrassment of throwing out a decade worth of aged spices, I decided to brew up a batch of Yogi Tea.  Please note if I croak in the next 24 hours it’s because I used peppercorns that were in a bottled dated best if used by 1998.

I fell in love with Yogi Tea during my yoga days. After one of the babies was born I went on a yoga binge and twisted and stretched my way back into shape, and eventual back into pregnancy again.  Aside from the apparent fertility perk, the best part about Yoga Yoga was the amazingly delicious yogi tea they serve after each class.  This tea is seriously worth the head stands.  Ok, so I never actually did a head stand, but the tea is still really good.

Yogi Tea (from the Yoga Yoga website)

Yogi Tea is a health-promoting beverage and a tonic for the whole body. It strengthens the nervous system, energizes the body, clears the mind, and is both a remedy and preventive measure for colds, allergies, and other illnesses. Yogi Tea is best made two quarts at a time. It can be stored in the refrigerator or even frozen. Simply heat tea and add milk and honey when you’re ready to drink it.

To make two quarts:

  • 2 quarts water
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 3 sticks of cinnamon
  • 20 whole cardamon pods (split the pods first)
  • 8 ginger slices (1/4″ thick, no need to peel)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black tea leaves (we use decaf)
  • Milk and Honey to taste
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a 3-4 quart pot. Add cloves and boil for one minute. Next, add cardamon, peppercorns, cinnamon, and fresh ginger root. Cover and boil for at least 30 minutes. For best flavor, cover and simmer for 2 to 3 hours! When ready, remove from heat, add black tea and let cool. Strain tea. When ready to drink, add soy or dairy milk and sweeten to taste with honey or maple syrup.