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When life hands you lemons, make 3 gallons of lemonade

Submitted by on Monday, 5 January 2009 No Comment

So why do I have a half gallon of lemonade in the refrigerator and two gallons in a Thermos vat on the patio after serving nine people and sending a pitcher full next door?

Because it seems that all you really need to entertain three kids for hours is a lemon tree and a Juiceman Jr. Good thing it’s cold here. The vat outside should stay fresh for a few days.

It was a desire to get three kids outside and out of my hair for a while that led to the project. The back-yard lemon tree was loaded this year, but I feared the weekend frost would put a hurt on the crop. So I sent the kids to pick lemons, promising we’d make lemonade when they finished.

To someone who’d lived most of her life on the East Coast, lemonade in January at first sounded counter-intuitive. That’s a summer drink, just made for hot, muggy days. Once you head West and realize that winter’s when the citrus crop comes in, though,  your perspective changes. Particularly once you’ve tried homemade from tree-fresh lemons.

Our first batch wasn’t until December this year, because that’s how long it took me to repossess the Juiceman from someone who’d “borrowed” it six years ago. I’d gone through the manual process the previous winter, and my wrists knew I didn’t want to do that again. Not when I had a perfectly good juicer sitting in someone else’s garage.

It had sat in our garage for  years before that, exiled in one of Dad’s counter-cleaning kicks that quickly followed the health kick that led to its purchase.

Let’s get this, he said, proclaiming his undying love for carrot juice and vowing to make it regularly. He thumbed through the accompanying recipe book, went to the grocery store and stocked up. The days of kale and carrots were short-lived.

When someone wanted to borrow Juiceman, I quickly let it go. I wasn’t wild about all the perfectly good vegetable parts it wasted anyway, so if  an appliance were going to depart, better Juiceman than a crock pot.

But then the guys came along and the lemon tree came into its own. After using the tree for a living science lesson all summer — and as a bribe to get them to help water the yard — I had to live up to my lemonade promise.

This year, that meant retrieving the Juiceman. I sicced Big Guy on the project, since he’s a far more relentless nag than I am. He came home proudly toting it one Saturday, and that meant it was time. Once I cleaned off six years’ worth of pomegranate grime off Juiceman, that is.

Juiceman is actually a pretty kid-friendly appliance. The blades are too deep for tiny hands to reach, and there are enough tasks between feeding the machine, pushing produce through the chute and turning it on that there was something for everyone to do without a brawl erupting.

And that’s how I wound up with three gallons of lemonade. The kids kept picking –  yes sir, yes sir, three bags full — I kept cutting, and they kept juicing. I think it’s accurate to say the guys got their tendencies to get carried away from me.

Just for old time’s sake, I made carrot juice this morning, sans kale. I’m kicking myself now for not freezing the chum to sneak it into my next batch of marinara, but we’d already fed it to the orange tree so at least it wasn’t a total waste.

And if you have a hankering for lemonade, stop by. But bring your own pitcher. Or a fifth of vodka. No need for ice — the lemonade’s already chilled.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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