Basil Lemonade – it’s 107 Degrees, Today

basil lemonade

It’s hot. Really hot.  107F, to be exact.  I was about to post a lovely recipe for a summer corn chowder and then I realized that I certainly don’t want to eat hot soup today and I assume you don’t, either.  You probably don’t even feel like eating much at all.  With heat like this, you need one thing: to stay hydrated so that you don’t have a panic attack and swerve into the cars coming toward you during rush hour.  I’m giving you a stupidly easy recipe, today.  It even involves a mixGASP!  I’ve made this lemonade for several events and at each event, people fawn over it like it’s magical or something.  “How is it sooooo good?”  I really don’t know why basil has such a wonderful effect on lemonade, but it does.  Adds that floral, refreshingly peppery note to it. Gives it a boost and elevates it from boring ol’ lemonade status.  Sure, you could do this without a mix, but I haven’t yet, and so I’m not going to claim that everything I do is from scratch.  So today, I urge you to do as little as possible, as well,  and making this lemonade is right up that “minimal effort” alley.  Enjoy.

Today’s snack time will be little cherry hand pies that Ollie and I made this morning, and this lemonade.  She’s never had lemonade, so we’ll see how it goes.  The hand pies were really easy.  You make the only pie dough that’s worth your time, cut out 3″ rounds, fill with fresh chopped cherries and squeeze shut, crimping with a fork.  Bake at 350 for 35 minutes until browned.  And no, our snack times don’t look like this.  They are in the high chair with me flipping through a magazine or doing dishes while Olive smears cherries all over her face in our dimly lit dining room.  But that wouldn’t photograph nicely, now, would it?  🙂

Cherry Hand Pies with Basil Lemonade

Basil Lemonade

Country Time Lemonade mix, filled to the 2 quart line
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, washed
1/4 cup sugar
A little less than 2 quarts of water

Dissolve the lemonade mix into the water in a large pitcher.  Using your hands, crush the basil leaves until the oils are released.  Mix into the lemonade.  Stir in the sugar and lemon juice and mix well.  Let it sit in your fridge until cold – the longer it sits, the more basil-y it gets.  Strain into glasses (no one wants a soggy leaf in their cup) over ice and serve!

Basil Lemonade Drink

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Time for Spring

We have less than ideal weather conditions in this region.  Lubbock has some of the worst dirt storms imaginable, the worst wind and the hottest summers.  We’ve been suffering through a drought the past 3 years and two years ago it was the worst we’d seen in nearly a century.  No rain that year from January till April of the next year (and even when the rain did come, it was one or two light showers).  Trees died and were uprooted, everyone’s yards were yellow like straw.  Farmers had to look for employment elsewhere, wildfires burned up homes, livestock, and thousands of acres of land.  Everywhere there were severe water restrictions and the people who cheated could be seen a mile away with their green, foot-thick sod yards that they clearly watered around the clock.  Needless to say, things haven’t been growing very well for aspiring back-yard farmers lately.  But with a few inches of rain last year and a few inches of snow this winter, we are more hopeful for the spring.  There’s still watering restrictions – we can only water on Tuesdays and Fridays, using either drip irrigation or standing there, holding a hose, but we are optimistic that maybe this year, something can grow.

Seeing growth is healing.  When you sow a seed and water it and leave, trusting that it will grow, you have faith in the purest form.  And when that faith is rewarded by a tiny, green shoot popping out of the dirt (and it’s not a weed) it gives such a rush that you want to do it again and again.  I’ve never been a successful gardener (rain helps) but this year, I’m going to try my best.  Choosing vegetables that say “full sun” is a start, and I’m focusing on herbs, which are used most frequently and are the most pricey per-ounce at the store.  And since nearly every single recipe in my most recent cookbook obsession calls for parsley, chives, tarragon, or chervil, and chervil is no where to be found in this town, I’m going to just grow my own.  (Lord willing.)

After working in the yard today and feeling the warmth creeping in the air, I decided to keep dinner light tonight.  I chose a green lentil, leek and endive salad and roasted some free sausages Matt got as a thanks from the butcher for buying a good cut of beef on Saturday.  Odd, but hey, we’ll take it.  And you’re welcome, Mr. Butcher.  Thank YOU for carrying dry-aged USDA prime.  Oh, and Olive wasn’t a fan of the texture of this salad.  She immediately scraped her tongue with her fingers to get every last lentil off.  Ah well, at least she tried it! green lentil salad 2 green lentil salad1

Green Lentil, Leek and Endive Salad

serves 4 to 6

1 cup green lentils
3 cups water
3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 leek (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise, rinsed, and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large head Belgian endive (or two small), root trimmed off and leaves sliced
1 tbs snipped fresh chives
2 tbs heavy cream
1 tbs white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse, drain and pick through the lentils to discard any debris.
Place the lentils in a large saucepan with the water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are tender but still firm, about 15 minutes.  Drain, rinse with cool water, and drain again.  Transfer the lentils to a serving bowl.
Heat 1 tbs of the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the leeks and cook, stirring, until they are slightly wilted but still have some crunch, about 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds more.  Add the leeks and garlic to the bowl with the lentils, along with the sliced endive and chives.
In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the heavy cream, vinegar, and salt and pepper.  Add this dressing to the lentils.  Toss to combine.

 

Serve the salad immediately at room temp.  Sear off some sausages for a full meal.