When life hands you lemons…

Three years ago when I was working more on the front lines of my Cafe, I wrote a post about the fun I had serving up real lemonade to an employee and her friends using my (then) new professional lemon juicer. I’m sharing that post below.

Now I spend more of my time in civilian life, and I have a new juicer better suited to this environment. Who’d have thought it would be possible to transfer affections to a new lemon juicer so quickly and easily?! But I have!

When I complained about the shape, cumbersomeness and relative ineffectiveness of home kitchen juicers on the market, my son 3d printed a lemon juicer for me. And I’m telling you, this is true LOVE. It’s the perfect shape (look at that beautiful shape in the picture), it squeezes every drop from the lemon, it’s easy to clean, to use and to store.

For more information about Jeremy’s 3d print projects or business, see www.3duniverse.org and www.shop3duniverse.com.

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“We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.” -Alfred E. Newman

I squeeze a lot of lemons every day. After five years of daily lemon squeezing, I finally purchased a professional lemon squeezer, the kind they use in fairs. It’s an incredible technological advance in my life. I love it!

Still, my lemon squeezer is a single function tool. It squeezes lemons for salads I make every day in my vegetarian cafe. It needed a larger purpose in life.

One day I put a little unfiltered sugar in a cup, squeezed a half lemon over it, tossed in the rind, swished it around, filled the cup with ice, added water, clapped a lid over the cup and shook. I handed the result to my employee. She drank, looked stunned and said, “Amazing.” She shared her drink with friends, who performed similarly.

This employee is 40 years younger than I as are her friends. Noting her ecstasy over the drink, I wondered if it was possible she had never had real lemonade before? Sure enough, prior to this moment lemonade for her was something made with water and canned powder. She had no idea you could just make lemonade from . . . well, real lemons.

Have you ever compared the ingredient list on a lemon with the ingredient list on one of those cans of lemonade mix? Here is a typical powdered lemonade mix ingredient list: Sugar, Fructose, Citric Acid, Less Than 2% Of Natural Flavor, Ascorbic Acid, Maltodextrin, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Citrate, Magnesium Oxide, Calcium Fumarate, Artificial Color, Yellow 5 Lake, Tocopherol.

Compare that list to: Lemon. A lemon, with its nutrients, micronutrients and phytonutrients, with its fiber and its ability to lower the glycemic index of accompanying foods. Most of all a lemon with all of its taste. A plain lemon, packaged in its own beautiful (integrated) yellow self.

It turns out real lemonade is not only more nutritious and about as easy to make as lemonade from a powdered mix — but tastier. According to the 20+ set, it is “Amazing!”

Forty years ago, I began a campaign to bring back real food. I raised my kids on it. Today I feed it to my customers. Everybody loves it! Why did we ever give it up? What did real food ever do to us but keep us healthy and happy?

Real Lemonade
0 – 2 TB Organic Sugar
Juice of 1/2 LG Juicy Lemon
1/2 Lemon Rind
Filtered Water

Wash one lemon. Add sugar to taste to the bottom of a drink mixer or cup with a cover. Squeeze over it the juice of 1/2 lemon, reserving the rind. Swish sugar and lemon juice until mixed. Add ice to the top of the shaker or cup. Fill shaker or cup with water. Secure the lid, and shake. Enjoy your lemonade.

Tea with Nana (Mint)

The Japanese Tea Ceremony or “The Way of Tea” is a well-known ritual.  Not so well-known are the requirements for preparing tea on the Sabbath if you are an observant Jew.  Even when it is not the Sabbath, preparing Tea with Nana can be a beautiful ritual, and drinking the tea is only one part of it.

Select beautiful, fresh mint with stems that have not turned woody, preferably from an area that has not been subjected to pesticide sprays.  Immerse in cold water to remove any sand or debris.  Remove from the water and allow to drain in a sieve for a few moments.  If not using right away, wrap the mint loosely in paper towel, bag and store in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator.

When you’re ready to make the tea, choose a clean glass that is an appropriate tea size.   Some websites display beautiful Moroccan style tea glasses, lightly colored with ornamentation.   Remove a bunch of mint from what you have prepared, leaving the leaves attached to the stem but removing any unsightly stem pieces.  Fill your glass with the mint, stems down.

Bring a pot of water to a full boil.  Pour the water into the glass over the mint leaves and allow to steep.  

The water will turn light green as the mint steeps, and you will be able to enjoy the beautiful aroma of fresh mint.

You can drink the tea just like this or drop a tea bag into the water briefly to steep until the tea is the strength you enjoy.

Tea - Nana (Mint) with Tea Bag Added

This simple tea when made correctly will be clear and beautiful with a wonderful aroma.  It is delightful to sip at any time of year, alone or with friends.

Tea or Coffee?

Tea with Nana (Mint)

The Japanese Tea Ceremony or “Way of Tea” is a well-known ritual.  Not so well-known are the requirements for preparing tea and coffee on the Sabbath if you are an Orthodox Jew.

A number of years ago I lived in an Orthodox Jewish community.  I often had people to my home for Sabbath dinners on Friday evening or lunches on Saturday afternoon after synagogue.

The food for these meals all had to be prepared before the Sabbath began since cooking is prohibited on the Sabbath.  Hot drinks such as tea must be prepared according to the following:

“One may not pour the hot water from the kettle directly onto an uncooked solid or liquid since this would be considered cooking. Coffee, tea, and cocoa fall into this category. Therefore, to make tea or coffee on Shabbat, use the following method:

  • pour the hot water from the kettle into a clean, dry cup;
  • pour the water from this cup into another cup; and
  • then add teabag, tea essence, coffee, sugar or milk. If using a teabag, do not squeeze it.
  • If using a teabag, do not remove the bag from the drink.

“Some authorities recommend that instead of using teabags, a special concentrated “tea essence” be prepared before Shabbat. One cup of tea essence is prepared by allowing six teabags to steep in a cup of boiling water. Use one tablespoon of this concentrate to make a cup of tea.” – http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/95914/jewish/Food-Preparation-on-Shabbat.htm

At first glance, it appears that the simple act of brewing a cup of tea has been made complicated.  Still, hot tea is a possibility, and observant Jews regularly enjoy it on the Sabbath.  

Coffee always seemed a little different . . . until the advent of coffee bags.  Generally coffee is brewed in advance of the Sabbath and held warm in an urn.   An alternative is instant coffee with water heated in advance of the Sabbath and held warm.  Some of my friends prepared a coffee essence and diluted it with pre-heated water.  As coffee lovers can imagine, these techniques don’t result in the best coffee.

And then one day, much to my delight, I discovered coffee bags in the store, which worked just like teabags.  At one of my luncheons after synagogue when the time came for us to enjoy our tea, I brought out the coffee bags as well.  I asked if they could be used in the same way as tea bags on the Sabbath.

An hour later we were still debating the possibility of making coffee with bags on the Sabbath just the way we made our tea — and the techniques that would make it allowable!  I confess I experienced some impatience.  I now realize that my impatience closed the window on an opportunity for a profound spiritual experience.

It occurs to me that this particular way of engaging in a joyful activity, drinking tea (or coffee) with friends on the Sabbath while paying attention to the rules and regulations that shape the Sabbath, is a ritual event.  Considering in detail how to conduct the ritual, as my friends were doing that day, centered consciousness.

Ritual is a way of sanctifying the mundane, of setting a moment apart from all other moments and calling upon us to stop and be aware.  Only awareness and intentionality separate ritual from routine and habit.

The choice to enjoy tea and coffee with friends in this place, in this time and in this way was fully intentional.  The ritual of  tea and coffee drinking on the Sabbath in a particular way made a mundane act into a sacred event, offering an opportunity for full awareness in the moment.

Although I love good coffee, I still prefer Tea with Nana (mint) in these special moments.  Be sure to check out my recipe!