I’m not a chef or even a trained professional cook. I am, however, an eater. A professional eater. Hopefully this puts you at ease, because like you, I’m someone who loves food and the stories behind them, and, like many of you, my kitchen is not pristine. I cook on an electric range that sometimes has a mind of its own. I use my kitchen table as extra prep space and store my Le Creuset on my countertop because I lack sufficient storage for it. These things do not make my kitchen less desirable; on the contrary, I adore my kitchen. It’s my space where I am allowed to create, discover and share. This is where many friends and family members are welcome to laugh and cry (or cry because they’re laughing too hard) at any given time. And it’s because of my kitchen’s little eccentricities that make me love it even more. It has character and personality, just like all of us.
It’s in this charming space where I discover pearls of kitchen wisdom, which usually spill out of nooks and crannies at the least unlikely of times. I uncover them whenever I’m alone in the kitchen on any given afternoon, doing something that may seem mundane to others. But what I love is how the clamor and clatter of the world falls away, and I am left with the sound of my paring knife gently slicing through the thin skin of a Yukon Gold potato as wind chimes from my neighbors garden softly ding in the summer breeze.
Sometimes pearls tumble onto the floor whenever a dear friend takes a seat at my table with a cup of chicory coffee. The steam rises as my friend slowly tells of her tales, and I stand at the helm of the stove, flipping pieces of cornmeal crusted okra in my skillet while savoring the laughter that quickly fills up the kitchen, pierced by the whistle of the teakettle and the sizzle of cornmeal hitting hot oil.
A kitchen may not be able to erase the troubles in life, but it can be a sanctuary that has the ability to soothe an anxious soul, steady a shaking hand, and ease a broken heart. When the hottest of days hit us like a ton of bricks, we can find shelter in simply preparing a refreshing glass of lemonade, which may not be the answer to life’s problems, but it has a way of lifting weary spirits. Maybe life is meant to be lived this way, in a procession of pearls strung out in long afternoons spent in the kitchen, to be cherished around our necks and worn close to our hearts.
Master Lemonade Recipe | Serves 10
Note: Rub the lemons with the granulated sugar before juicing, which releases the natural oils in the lemon skin and perfumes the sugar for the simple syrup.
Try adding fresh herbs to these fruity lemonades. A sprig of oregano with the strawberry lemonade and a rosemary sprig with the blackberry lemonade creates a lovely herbaceous aroma to this classic summertime beverage. Mint goes great with watermelon and thyme works well with peach lemonade. Adding herbs to lemonade is easy breezy and it looks lovely when entertaining.
½ cup of granulated sugar
3 ½ cups of water, divided
½ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup of fruit purée, optional (see recipes below)
Before juicing the lemons, rub the skin aggressively with ½ cup of granulated sugar (see note).
Combine ½ cup of recently boiled water to perfumed granulated sugar. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Set aside.
Combine the remaining 3 cups of water, lemon juice and simple syrup in a pitcher. Add fruit purée at this point, if using. Stir. Keep chilled until ready to serve.
If desired, serve with fresh herbs making sure to rub the herbs in your palms first to release their natural oils. Enjoy!
1 cup of blackberries
1 tablespoon of water
Purée blackberries and water in a food processor until liquefied. Strain, reserving the juice and discarding the blackberry pulp.
1 cup of strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of water
Purée strawberries and water in a food processor until liquefied. Strain, reserving the juice and discarding the strawberry pulp.
White Peach Purée:
1 cup of white peaches, cored and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of water
Purée peaches and water in a food processor until liquefied. Strain, reserving the juice and discarding the peach pulp.
1 cup of watermelon, cubed
Purée watermelon in a food processor until liquefied. Strain, reserving the juice and discarding the pulp.