Thursday, May 1, 2008

The undeniable lightness of lemons...

The weather is inviting. Farmers' markets are opening and fresh flowers are beginning to appear everywhere in abundance. It certainly is spring in most places now. In some areas fund-raising events are in beginning to take place. Last year I volunteered to serve refreshments at an arts council event. The lemonade we served was a huge hit. Other beverages sold well, of course, but my station was the only one where people actually were standing in line to buy re-fills!

To make lemonade for the crowd that will be attending your event, you will need: simple syrup, water, crushed ice, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and lemon slices.

The day before the event you will want to do the following:
  • Make up a batch of simple syrup:
Combine one cup of white sugar and one cup of water in a heavy saucepan. Simmer the sugar and water over medium heat and stir until all the sugar dissolves. Continue to simmer for about 5 minutes until the syrup is clear. Then remove the pan from the heat. Cool to room temperature. Pour this cool simple syrup into a gallon jar; add enough cool water to fill up the jar. One gallon of watered-down syrup is about right for a large family picnic.
For a fund-raising event, you will need to triple the amount of simple syrup shown above and add the cooled syrup to three gallons of water. Three gallons of watered-down syrup will serve a large crowd.
  • Reserve the sugar/water mixture in your refrigerator.
  • Next you will need to squeeze a lot of lemons. How many is up to you. But if you have a large event you will want one gallon of fresh-squeezed lemon juice for every three gallons of simple syrup/water mix. Reserve this lemon juice in a glass gallon jug or in several glass containers in your refrigerator.
  • Slice lemons cross-wise for garnish, wrap these in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
On the day of the event, set up your serving station:
  • Fill a clean ice chest to the brim with crushed ice. Place a sturdy scoop inside the ice chest so it will be handy.
  • Position a stack of tall beverage cups at your table/station.
  • Fill a glass pitcher with syrup mix and one with lemon juice. Place these, side-by side, and use a small sauce ladle for dispensing the lemon juice.
  • Have lemon slices on a pretty plate---at the ready.
  • Scoop ice chips into each beverage container as the order is placed.
  • Fill each beverage container 3/4 full of the syrup mix.
  • Add 2, 3 or 4 ladles of lemon juice depending on the customer's taste---Ask how they like it---mild, medium, or very tart?
  • Add a lemon slice as garnish and a swizzle stick or straw to stir.
If you are serving at a fund-raiser, smile sweetly and say, "Two dollars, please."
This recipe will return a tremendous profit, and gives enjoyment to all who buy!
Many thanks to Claire, my friend, neighbor and fellow arts council member who shared this recipe with me.
Still Life with Lemons was painted by Wanda Westberg, one of America's finest traditional plein-air landscape painters. This painting and others are currently offered for sale at William Lester Gallery: