So for starters, any time the kids are the kitchen with me, I'm a little stressed. I really enjoy cooking with them, but at the same time, I am always terrified that someone will get a cut or wind up with a burn. As a little kid, I think I was four, I badly burned my wrist when I ran into the kitchen and crashed into my mom as she was innocently draining a pot of noodles into the sink. And the boiling water splashed on me.
I'm a little neurotic about using the baby gates on all the entrances to my kitchen - one from the hall, one from the basement steps and one from the dining room. However, you might remember that we are not home this summer and so I am out of my kitchen-element. And there are no doorways to this summer kitchen; the entire first floor living space is one big area. I love that in a house. But these days, I am the gate. Which makes cooking or baking something I like to do after the kids are asleep.
But the kids have been wanting to make lemonade. And never having made lemonade before, I didn't really think it was cooking. Except it is.
Here's the how-to. Just be careful with the lemon cutting and sugar-syrup making.
We gathered together a bag of lemons, sugar, water, a measuring cup, a smallish pot, some kind of lemonade pitcher and a ton of paper towels. We also had some ice cubes on standby in the freezer.
Our bag of lemons had six lemons, so we used five in the actual lemonade and one for a fancy garnish. Although I'm not sure that that was the best use of the last lemon. I kind of feel like I was the only one who appreciated the floating lemons and ice.
Start by pouring one cup water and one cup sugar into the small pot. Bring to a boil, lower the flame to a simmer and stir constantly until all the sugar is dissolved. Let the mixture cool on the stove - preferably on a back burner, where little hands cannot reach.
While you are working on the sugar-syrup, hand out the lemons to the kids. Show them how to use their palms to press firmly on the lemons, rolling them so the lemons release their juices. This step is not a must, but it does help get more juice out of the lemons. And also, it's an activity. I told the kids they had to do this for at least five minutes.
Next, cut the lemons in half, allowing each kid to have a turn squeezing the lemons into the measuring cup. This is where the paper towels come in - the is very messy and very wet. But fun. You'll see.
This is also when you will learn, judging by their ability to squeeze the lemon, which of your children needs some occupational therapy.
While the kids are squeezing, you will be busy catching the seeds. Or you can just strain the lemon juice when you are done, but we didn't have a strainer. Or a lemon juicer. That would have been helpful too.
The goal is to squeeze 3/4 cup of juice from the lemons but a little more or a little less won't make a difference.
Pour the juice from the lemon (not to be confused with lemon juice, which comes in a bottle from the supermarket) into the lemonade pitcher. Add the sugar-syrup and mix well. The next step had us adding five cups of water. Instead, we added three cups of water and two cups of plain seltzer
because my soda-deprived children liked the idea of making lemonade soda.
Throw in some ice cubes and slice up that last lemon as if you were Martha herself. Throw them into the lemonade (remember to take the seeds out of the slices first) and let it all sit there for a while, preferably in the fridge, or as in our case, on the counter so everyone can stand there and gaze lovingly at the lemonade.
After the ice cubes have had a chance to do their thing, pour some and drink.
Initially, my kids were wary of tasting it but once one of them tasted, the rest followed. And three out of four loved it. My two year old tasted it and said "bad". I tasted it and almost passed out from the cloying sweetness - but I am not sure if it's because there was actually too much sugar in it or because my taste buds are so not used to sugar anymore (hi Moldie!) - you know, with the whole clean eating thing.
Either way, thumbs up from the kids. Thumbs down from the parents. But most fun childhood things are like that anyway, right?
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)