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Mango Limeade

21 Jun


One of the more achingly boring aspects of my daily life is the fact that I rarely drink anything other than water. My mornings begin with coffee, but 99% of the time that comes afterwards is filled with plain old water. Years ago, before the unfortunate onset of alcohol intolerance, I was able to pepper my evenings with a night cap or two, but these days I rarely consume anything at night, save for a cup of hot herbal tea if I am feeling under the weather. Like I said: boring.



Perhaps because of the fact that I am so accustomed to drinking plain old water, I have a great deal of trouble enjoying sweet beverages. I’ve never loved soda, but now I’ve become so weak when it comes to sugary drinks that the sweetness of 1/3 of a bottle of Jarritos is enough to make my mouth actually feel sort of buzzy and strange. The only way to combat this, of course, is to not drink sweet beverages at all. Or, if you are stubborn enough—and I most certainly am—you can just start making your own sweet beverages that are not actually all that sweet.



Much like making one’s own popsicles or popsicle variations, making homemade lemonade or limeade is a great kitchen skill to possess. If you are sensitive to the amount of sugar in your drinks, you can dial the sweetness down to suit your preference. If you’ve got a range of fruits on hand, you can experiment with blending things together and coming up with great flavor combinations. This is how I happened to come up with this wonderful mango limeade, a close relative to the mango lemonade I once made for my old column over at Indie Fixx. The difference between these two summery drinks is the ratio of mango to citrus, the mango limeade leaning more firmly in the direction of mango than lime. Here, the lime juice serves as a companion to the smooth and tropical mango puree, and the sweetness is hushed down considerably. While decidedly less sweet than most iterations of lemon-or-limeade, I can say with great certainty that this summertime treat is by no means any less enjoyable.


Last Year: Roasted Broccoli Pasta Salad and Strawberry Mango Crumble–look! One year to the day, and I post another mango recipe. It must really be the start of summer.

Mango Limeade

If you are feeling a bit fancy, feel free to sub in sparkling water for the plain water in this recipe, or, if your fanciness takes on a more grown-up tone, try stirring some of the mango-lime puree into a glass of sparkling wine or Prosecco.

½ cup fresh lime juice

the ripe flesh from 2 mangoes, pureed then strained (you should end up with about ¾ of a cup of mango puree)

¼ to 1/3 cup sugar, depending on your preferred level of sweetness

4 cups water

pinch of salt

In a large bowl or pitcher, combine lime juice, mango puree, and sugar. Stir thoroughly, until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in water and pinch of salt. That’s it. You’re done. It’s so delicious, you can hardly believe it’s so easy, right?

Homemade Lemonade and Limeade

5 Aug

It seems a little weird to me that I am posting a recipe for what I consider to be the most basic of beverages, a beverage only about one notch simpler than, say, turning on the tap to fill a glass with water. Still, it was recently brought to my attention that there are a lot of people out there who don’t know how simple it is to make homemade lemonade. Maybe it’s the status of lemonade as a heralded summer drink that makes it seem like a daunting challenge to create at home, or perhaps it’s just a bit too easy to succumb to the allure of a bottle or two of the organic stuff that seems to be on sale at the market all summer long. Regardless, whether you’re making homemade lemonade by the glass or by the pitcher, you only have to keep track of a simple ratio in order to assure a perfect lemonade experience every time.

1 cup of water to 1.5 tablespoons of freshly-squeezed lemon juice, plus 2 tablespoons of sugar. That’s it. And here’s an odd little secret: the more you increase the volume of this recipe the more a surprise fourth ingredient begins to come into play. That ingredient? Salt. When you’ve got 8 cups of water diluting ¾ of a cup of lemon juice, the mixture starts to need a bit of perking up, and there is nothing more effective at perking up a nice, big pitcher of lemonade than a hefty pinch of sea salt. If you are making limeade instead of lemonade, that bit of salt becomes even more important, bringing out all the right notes of the lime’s flavor, and perfectly balancing it against the sugar.

Of course, once you’ve made yourself some lemonade, there is basically nothing stopping you from using it as the basis and inspiration for all types of wonderful drinks and treats. Muddle some fresh mint and fresh or frozen raspberries in the bottom of a glass, top it off with lemon or limeade, then drink as is, or add a splash of vodka. Or pour into popsicle molds and prepare yourself for some hot weather, perhaps even freezing the popsicles only halfway, then dropping some chunks of fresh fruit into the molds before popping everything back together and freezing completely. Once those babies are totally frozen, you’ve got yourself some fruit-filled citrus popsicles that are just to die for.

Last Year: Deep Dish German Pancake

Homemade Lemonade Recipe

I love making this with a mix of both lemons and limes, which, as you can see, is what I have done in these pictures. Also of note: I prefer a less sweet lemonade, so the amount of sugar you see here will result in an only mildly sweet drink. You can, of course, up the sugar content to suit your own personal tastes. The flavor of this lemonade will get more rounded as it is allowed to sit, so, if you’re making it for an event, I suggest making it a day ahead and allowing it to rest in the refrigerator for a day.

For a single serving:

1 cup water

1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons sugar

small pinch of sea salt

Combine ingredients in a tall glass or cocktail shaker, then stir or shake until sugar is completely dissolved. Add ice, if desired, and drink.

For a pitcher:

8 cups water

¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ heaping cup sugar (or, to be more precise, ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons)

¼ teaspoon sea salt.

Combine ingredients in a large pitcher. Stir together until sugar has completely dissolved.

Mimi’s Ginger Lemon Tea

29 Aug

I used to work with the most wonderful woman named Mimi.  She was a writer, a teacher, a lover of books, and, back in the ‘70s, she was a single mother who shared with her son a small apartment on Haight Street in San Francisco while she worked, went to school, and took care of her child’s chronic breathing problems that eventually resulted in him being fitted with a tracheostomy tube.  Mimi was, and is, an admirable woman.

When we worked together, Mimi would bring by the gallon the most wonderful ginger lemon tea, kept cold in the work refrigerator and available for free to whoever wanted to partake of it.  No matter the season, this tea was like a magical tonic that cured all ills, mental and physical.  In the summertime, consumed over ice, the tea was the most brisk and refreshing thing you could ever imagine drinking.  Though it seems impossible when I really think about it, I swear it actually perked people up enough to actually want to work more (a feat you’d definitely find impossible to believe if you knew where exactly we worked.  Ahem).  In the wintertime, warmed in a mug in the break room’s microwave, the tea was a soothing, calming respite from the persistent gloom and chill of Pacific Northwest winters and the ever-present insanity of the holiday season.  If you were feeling under the weather, a mug of Mimi’s tea made you feel, while not completely healed, at least a bit more cared for and comforted.

After years of telling Mimi how much I loved her tea, and how appreciative I was of her always sharing it with everyone, she surprised me one day by pulling out a pad of Post-It notes and conspiratorially leaning in to me and saying, “You know what?  I’m going to give you the recipe.”

One Post-It note, four ingredients, and years of enjoyment later, I can’t help feeling that the time has come to share Mimi’s recipe with the world.  In part, I am doing it because I want to share this fantastic and borderline magical recipe with the world, but there is no small part of me that is doing it because I haven’t seen Mimi in over four years and lately I’ve been missing her.  An old email address no longer connects me to her, and several stabs at a Google-fest involving her name have led me to only past employers and dead ends.  I have only Mimi’s tea left to connect me to her, and, while I enjoy the tea immensely, I have to admit, I still feel as though something is missing.  The tea is just not the same without the conversation, care, and compassion that Mimi supplied to go along with it.

Mimi’s Ginger Lemon Tea

This is the recipe exactly as Mimi wrote it down for me many years ago.  As you can see, it makes a batch of tea by the gallon-plus.  In the interest of moderation, I generally quarter the recipe and make a generous quart of tea.

Though this tea is perfect as-is, there are a number of delicious ways to dress it up.  In the wintertime, served hot with a splash of bourbon, it’s the prefect night cap.  In the summertime, chilled ice cold and served with a few leaves of fresh basil muddled in the bottom of your glass, it makes for a brisk and refreshing cooler.  All in all, however, you’ll never go wrong just drinking it as Mimi wrote it.

1 gallon water

1 cup fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin

2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

16 ounces (2 cups) honey

Combine water and ginger in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 30 minutes, then remove from heat and strain into a large bowl.

Stir in lemon juice and honey.

That’s it.

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