Meg Makes: Combat summer's heat with these cool beverages
When the weather gets really hot, I feel like special, summery beverages can make all the difference in one's attitude.
In our house, that means a pitcher of citrus lemonade in our fridge can make my day.
My husband created it after mixing lemon and lime juices with orange-blossom water that we had on hand after making some Lebanese baklava this winter.
The recipe is below, as is Champaign resident Laura Clower's recipe for blueberry-pomegranate zingers.
She created them as a mocktail for the under-21 crowd, but adults can enjoy them just as well, and they feature a peppery homemade ginger syrup.
A special summer beverage doesn't have to require a degree in mixology, though. Carol Timms of Champaign told me her favorite is mixing one part lemonade to one part orange juice.
That's special and summery enough for me.
6 1/2 cups water
1 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed is best, but I confess, sometimes we use bottled lemon juice. It saves so much time and stickiness and still tastes OK)
1/4 cup lime juice (same situation as above with fresh vs. bottled)
1/8 cup orange blossom water
3/4 cup sugar (you could substitute non-sugar sweetener, but make sure you follow the sweetener's instructions for how much is equivalent to the sugar called for here)
Mix all ingredients well and chill before serving. Makes a little more than 2 quarts.
3 jiggers POM blueberry-pomegranate juice
1 jigger ginger simple syrup
3 jiggers lemon-lime seltzer water
For ginger syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, optional
To make syrup, mix ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until mixture just starts to bubble.
Remove from heat, cover and let steep about 30 minutes. Strain into glass container with a lid (Laura uses Good Seasonings dressing bottles because the lids have a pour spout).
Store in the fridge. Lasts for at least a month.
To assemble zingers, stir ingredients together over ice in a large mixing glass.
Strain into two large glasses filled with ice.
Laura adds that you could turn these into real cocktails with the addition of 2 jiggers of vodka.
You could also try substituting sparkling wine for the seltzer and adding lemon juice or triple sec to replace the citrus note.
Meg Dickinson is a local communications professional who spends many of her waking hours daydreaming about food. To submit a recipe for her consideration, email her at email@example.com.