I grew up in Paxton, and some of my fondest memories are from its Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration in Pells Park.
When I was little, my mom was involved in the now-defunct Junior Women’s Club. As an annual fundraiser, members sold lemon shake-ups at the park on the Fourth. I remember attending their night-before gatherings as they cut and juiced cases of lemons.
I also remember my dad and other reluctant volunteers swearing as they picked up the club’s shake-up stand and assembled it under the enormous tree just north of the park’s large pavilion.
I remember the rattle of the Tupperware that shakers club members used as they shook the ice, lemon juice, sugar and water — and the plop of the lemon quarters they’d add to garnish the shake-ups. My mouth still waters at the memory of drinking those sweet, sour concoctions.
I was able to recreate the recipe — or at least one similar — in my kitchen with a hand-held juicer and a Mason jar. (You can use a Tupperware or large cocktail shaker, too, but I thought a Mason jar would be something that more people would probably have on hand.) The results were wonderful, and they can be tailored to suit your tastes.
The youth football team still sells lemon shake-ups as a fundraiser at Pells Park in Paxton. If you’re anywhere nearby Thursday, go buy one. It will save you a sticky, lemony mess in your kitchen — and you can’t beat the summery taste.
Six cubes ice from a standard tray
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (if you don’t like pulp or seeds, don’t forget to strain your juice)
1/4 cup sugar (or more to taste)
8 to 12 ounces water
Fill a 1-quart Mason jar to the 8-ounce line with ice. Add lemon juice and sugar. Fill to 16-ounce line with water (this will require about 8 ounces). Put a lid on the Mason jar and shake well. Taste it, and add up to 1/4 cup more sugar and up to 4 more ounces of water. The original recipe makes a very tart shake-up, perfect for people who love sour flavors. Garnish with two lemon peels cut into quarters.
Serve in the Mason jar with a straw, or pour into a large glass.