keito potato

Thyme-Infused Lemonade
June 3, 2012, 12:30 pm
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During warmer weather, I like infusing herbs and other aromatics into lemonade and limeade (for instance: mint, basil, rosemary, lemongrass, ginger).  I was recently pondering the possibility of infusing thyme into lemonade since my thyme plants are going crazy in the backyard, and there are other savory recipes that pair lemons with thyme.  I did a quick bing search, and the first item that popped up was a Martha Stewart recipe for thyme lemonade.  Martha says it has an “unexpected grown-up flair.”  I decided to go for it, since Martha approves.  If a different herb sounds good to you, feel free to follow this process and substitute another herb in the thyme’s place.

This recipe makes a concentrate which will create 4-5 pitchers of lemonade.  To save space in the fridge before a party, I make a concentrate which consists of the lemon juice and infused simple syrup.  Then right before serving, I dilute a small portion of the concentrate in a with water in a pitcher.  My ratio is 1 part concentrate to 4 parts water, but you can adjust that per your own taste.  You can use flat water or sparkling water, your choice.  If you want to turn this into a cocktail, gin would be a complementary option.

The thyme in my backyard is a fluffy and fuzzy sort of thyme.  It’s fun to use, but the regular variety of thyme will look more delicate and dainty floating in the lemonade pitcher.

THYME-INFUSED LEMONADE – makes 4-5 pitchers

4 cups of freshly-squeezed lemon juice

grated zest of 2 lemons

2 cups sugar

1 cup loosely-packed fresh thyme branches

1 cup water for the simple syrup

water or sparkling water to fill the pitchers

gin, optional


Juice the lemons.  If you have an electric citrus juice, this will go faster.  

Make the infused simple syrup by combining the sugar, lemon zest, thyme branches, and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan.  Stir to dissolve the sugar.  Bring to a full boil, then remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  Combine the infused simple syrup with the lemon juice in a pitcher or large tupperware, and chill in the fridge until ready to use.  Leave the thyme branches in the lemonade so that they can continue their infusion.  The thyme will be more pronounced the next day, but not overpowering.

To serve, I combine 1  1/2 cups of this concentrate with 6 cups water in a pitcher.  That is a ratio of 1 part concentrate to 4 parts water.  Adjust this ratio for yourself depending on the size of your pitcher, and the size of your sweet tooth.  I like this proportion because it is less sweet and more refreshing, but you might like it a bit more concentrated.  You might also want to adjust the concentrate itself in terms of the balance of sugar to lemon juice.  You can add a shot of gin to your glass, if desired.

July 22, 2010, 8:26 pm
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Two months ago, I nestled a gallon-jar of limoncello into my dark pantry to slowly marinate. We just bottled the limoncello this week, so it’s time to report to my friends that it’s damn fine. It’s honestly the best limoncello I’ve tasted. Just sweet enough, with a clean lemon finish.

This recipe comes from my friend Jim Mininger. Jim researched various limoncello techniques, compiling ideas into his own original recipe. He discovered the perfect balance of proportions.

Jim also advises using Everclear instead of the traditional vodka. The Everclear makes quite a difference. Because most limoncellos are made with vodka, they can’t help but taste like lemon-infused vodka, with a definite antiseptic edge. Without the vodka, it is truly a lemon aperitif, clean and bright. You might not be able to find Everclear at your corner grocery, but any liquor warehouse would carry it.

Bottles of homemade limoncello make great xmas gifts, and are especially convenient as make-ahead gifts before the holiday frenzy. As I give bottles of the 1st batch away this week, I realize I may need to start the 2nd batch soon. It does take several weeks to rest, you know.


15 lemons
2 bottles Everclear (750 ml each)
4 cups sugar
5 cups water


Pour one 750 ml bottle of Everclear into a 1-gallon jar.

Wash the lemons with a vegetable brush and hot water to remove any reside of pesticides or wax, unless you know that they have not been sprayed. Pat them dry.

Carefully zest the lemons with a zester or peeler. Use only the outer part of the rind. The white pith under the rind is bitter, and would ruin the limoncello.

Add the lemon zest to the gallon jar, adding as you zest it.

Cover the jar, and let sit for 10-40 days in a cool dark place. The longer it rests, the better. There is no need to stir — all you have to do is wait. As the limoncello sits, the Everclear slowly takes on the flavor and rich yellow color of the lemon zest.

At this point, combine the sugar and water in a saucepan. Cook until thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Let the syrup cool. Then add it to the gallon jar. Add the 2nd bottle of Everclear. Allow this to rest for a second waiting period of another 10-40 days, also in a cool dark place.

During this time, collect and clean various liquor bottles and vinegar bottles (that you will eventually fill with limoncello). Also plan to make room in your freezer for the bottles.

After the 2nd resting period, strain the liquid with a very-fine sieve or a cheesecloth to remove the lemon zest. Discard the zest.

Use a funnel to fill various bottles. Store the bottles of limoncello in the freezer until ready to serve. Serve cold.

recipe courtesy of Jim Mininger

Chilean Christmas Drink
December 23, 2009, 12:05 am
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Cola de Mono (Tail of the Monkey) is a Chilean Christmas drink made from milk, cinnamon, coffee, tequila, and vanilla. Cola de Mono has become a Christmas tradition in my family, lovely to have around when extended family is up late playing cards. I’ll warn you that it’s deceptively strong. There are 2 full cups of tequila in there, but all you’ll taste is the cinnamon. It makes sense to serve it in tiny glasses.

I have altered the Sundays at Moosewood recipe in replacing their instant coffee with strongly brewed real coffee. I think instant coffee “crystals” are bizarre, so I don’t keep them in the house.

6 Cups milk
1 Cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 Cup strong coffee
2 Cups tequila
1 teaspoon vanilla

Bring the milk, sugar, and cinnamon to a boil in a saucepan. In the meantime, brew the strong coffee. When the milk mixture has come to a boil, remove it from the heat and stir in the coffee. Cool to room temperature, then chill it even further in the refrigerator. When well chilled, add the tequila and vanilla. Pour it into capped bottles or carafes, and return to the refrigerator. Let the cinnamon sticks remain in the bottles to continue infusing the beverage.

Serve very cold. It will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

iced coffee
May 14, 2009, 9:32 pm
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This weekend I volunteered at the Fair Trade coffee booth for the Southern California Mennonite Relief Sale  I ordered the beans from Just Coffee, an old contact from my fair trade days.  These particular beans were from a small cooperative in Guatemala that previously had been farmed by slave labor.  The new coop farmers are former guerrillas, who have essentially turned machetes into plowshares.  You can read more about the farm here

Since it was a hot weekend, we knew we would sell more iced coffee than hot.  At last year’s sale, we made iced coffee by brewing hot coffee and chilling it.  The results were adequate, and the only real flavor came from the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and cinnamon we added at the end.

This year we tried the cold-brewing method that Just Coffee provided on their website.  The recipe makes a thick concentrate.  The concoction is more stable, with a refrigerated shelf life of 2 weeks.  I decided to trust the experts, and got out a few gallon jars to make enough concentrate for the weekend sale.

coffee 004.1

The results were perfect, and I have become a convert to the cold-breweing method.  When the weather gets hotter, I plan on keeping a jar of this concentrate in my fridge.  I was so pleased with this new technique that I couldn’t help but share it with all of you.


1/2 lb coffee grounds

5 cups room temperature water


Combine coffee grounds and room temperature water in a large jar or pitcher.   Allow to sit 12 hours.  Pour through a coffee filter or very fine mesh strainer to remove the grounds.  Refrigerate.

Serve over ice mixed 1 part to 3 parts water or milk (for example: 1/4 cup concentrate and 3/4 cup milk).  At our coffee booth, we added a shot of sweetened condensed milk that had been thinned a bit with milk and vanilla.  That kept the customers happy.  This afternoon at home I have made a few cups of iced coffee, but since I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, I kept it simple with coffee concentrate and milk.