Subtle variations on popular beverage will quench every thirst

I love summer break.

Being a stay-at-home mother without anywhere to be first thing in the morning is easy. Kids sleep in, breakfast is made leisurely and plans do not start to come together for the day until after lunch.

The kids are spending a great deal of time in the kitchen, much of it unsupervised. I am not sure how I feel about this, because I end up doing most of the cleanup.

Yet lately, Emma, 11, has come up with several very tasty drinks. After scanning a recent magazine, she has been trying to recreate some of the cocktail recipes, without the alcohol, of course.

It took a little fooling with, because without the spirits, the drinks were way too sweet. But, she has come up with some good ones.

“Clay’s Secret Recipe” is one we have been enjoying for a long time. It is lemonade. But now we have an official recipe that works every time. Yes, it requires measuring.

First, Emma makes a large batch of simple syrup. This is just equal parts sugar and water heated until the sugar melts. She then puts a few sprigs of mint in there to steep. Thyme works well, too.

After an hour or so, we strain out the herbs and refrigerate it. We made one batch with mashed raspberries in it, too. Molly, 9, turned this into pink lemonade popsicles.

When the syrup is cold, we add an equal part of lemon juice so there are the same amounts of each ingredient. This is our lemonade concentrate.

For classic lemonade, we take 2 cups of the concentrate and add water to make a quart or a little more, depending on how sweet you like your drink.

I made a batch with club soda to make sparkling lemonade. Emma tends to go for the more sophisticated flavorings like herb infusions garnished with lemon wedges on the side or on the glasses.

Clay, 7, prefers the classic, still referred to as Clay’s Secret Recipe. Molly’s popsicles were a big hit, and very pretty, too.

Save this recipe and let your kids experiment this summer making various riffs on everybody’s favorite hot weather drink – lemonade.

mpoitras@discoveryspeed.com. Margery Reed Poitras is a former professional chef who now cooks for her kids and occasionally for the more mature palate.

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