make lemonade. or, as i like to put it, when life hands you a 98 degree day with a “real feel” of 105, head to your nearest supermarket and pick up the biggest bag o’ lemons you can find. then go home and juice ’em and make slightly sweetened, oh so tangy lemonade with a hint of mint. and drink a big glass. and then another one.
i’ll be the first to admit i’m not good with heat. 65, or even 60, is my ideal temperature. i like layers and crisp autumn air and the sort of slight chill that makes you wrap your leather jacket around you just a little bit tighter, the kind that makes you cross your arms over your chest. i love a white blanket of snow in winter and a big fluffy scarf wrapped ten times around your neck. what i don’t like? anything over 85 degrees, the slightest bit of humidity, the sort of weather where you can only wear a dress (preferably a strapless one) and you’ll probably still sweat your toxins out.
the past few days have been seriously H-O-T HOT here in new york – the kind of hot where nelly commands you to take off all your clothes (no, really, i saw a lot of shirtless people walking around the past few days) – and i’ve been seriously sweaty. i’m not the kind of girl who can breeze through the summer months in a sundress, with perfectly tousled hair and makeup that doesn’t budge. instead, i’m the girl holding her ice cold water bottle against her neck, praying for a cool breeze and wishing that the world was drenched in air conditioning and that her dress wasn’t sticking to her back. let’s be real – so long as you’re not in a hot yoga studio, sweat just isn’t cute. it’s not that i smell, it’s just that i tend to look a little shimmery (and that’s putting it lightly). so suffice it to say, summer’s not really my favorite season. i despise feeling sticky, and anytime the humidity goes over 50% and the temperature rises above 75, i’m pretty much sticky, all day, every day. NOT FUN.
7-8 large lemons, juiced
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup agave nectar or honey
1 cup water
4 cups cold water
6 sprigs fresh mint
the key to making really yummy lemonade is simple syrup – otherwise known as sugar and water. many lemonade recipes call for an initial simple syrup made of 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water. but that seems like a whole lotta sugar to me, so i cut the white sugar down to 1/2 cup and added 1/4 cup of agave, which i like to think is healthier than sugar. next time i make this, i’m going to try all agave, or maybe some orange blossom honey if i can find it.
to start, halve and juice all your lemons. i juice all mine in a large bowl, then strain the liquid to get rid of seeds and pulp. doing it this way saves you from having to curse and pick out individual seeds each time they drop into the bowl.
set lemon juice aside and make your simple syrup. combine the sugar, agave and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until sugar and agave are dissolved in the water.
remove sugar water from heat and combine with lemon juice in the the pitcher of your choice. i chose this pretty glass pitcher, which i picked up recently at ikea. now add your four cups of cold water and throw in your mint leaves.
refrigerate for 30-40 minutes until cold; conversely, put some ice in a glass and drink immediately. serve with a few slices of fresh lemon and a fresh mint leaf or two.
note: you can also use this lemonade to make lemon popsicles. YUM. or, you could add vodka and make yourself a dandy little cocktail.