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Life’s Little Lemons

I would like to begin by apologizing profoundly for my absence.  I have been extremely busy with my cooking classes as well as other personal matters.  I am back now, at least I hope.  My ‘wodkatopf’ has made little progress other than to remain unattended.  As any good chef with a recipe knows, one usually never follows that recipe.  So in an attempt to salvage my attempt at this Austrian delight I have decided that I will add a fruit every 2 months instead of every month and see what happens.  I am still debating what fruits to add as I go along; suggestions are welcome.

The Underground Cooking Club has had a rough, but lovely start.  So far I have taught 6 classes that range from valentine sweets to Asian cuisine.  My latest and favorite to date has been my gourmet cupcake class, in which I taught students to make many varieties including green tea, lemon meringue, s’mores and tiramisu.  I ate cupcakes for 2 straight days and loved it!  I am happy to announce that I will have my largest class yet next week.  I will be teaching the basic techniques of sushi to a group of 10 people.  I am very excited.

Other important developments in the culinary life I live revolve around a lemon.  Yes, I said it, a lemon.  Not lemons…. one single lemon.  Now before I continue I should explain that here in Costa Rica we have nothing even close to a lemon as it is know in the United States of America as well as other countries.  What we call a lemon most know as a lime.  So after 15 years of drinking limeade and making lime pies, you can imagine my delight at seeing perfectly shaped, photo worthy, yellow lemons in my grocery store.

Perhaps you cannot imagine my delight…Let me paint a picture… It was a day like any other day at the grocery store, until I reached the fresh produce section.  I smiled broadly upon spotting them, literally danced across the aisle to get closer to them and then closed my eyes as I held it in my hand.  Now I know most of ya’ll are probably thinking, “Chandler calm down already, it was only a lemon”.  Well yes, it was only a lemon.  But if I can still get excited at something as simple as a lemon, then I believe that is admirable.  I chose the perfect one from the bunch and skipped to the checkout line to pay for it, all the while debating what to do with my single lemon.  There are so many things that lemons are so good in: pie, tea, muffins, fish with lemon butter, ceviche…the list goes on…

I arrived home and set my gorgeous lemon on the counter where I pondered it for 2 whole days until it was perfectly ripe.  Then I thought to myself, the destiny of my lemon was so obvious.  Life had given me a lemon…  It had to be made into lemonade!  Now I would not settle for just lemon, water and sugar.  Oh no!  That would hardly do my little jewel justice.  I decided it had to be lemonade on ice as if it was summertime and instead of sugar I used vanilla sugar, yes… vanilla sugar!

I sliced the lemon open, taking a moment to inhale its citrusy goodness and just because no one was looking…I licked it!  My entire face puckered at its bold tartness and then relaxed back into a giddy smile.  I sliced a wonderfully circular piece of lemon with a thick yellow rind for a garnish…  I saw no reason my lemonade should be a naked lemonade.  I melted the vanilla sugar with a bit of water to make a syrup.  In a single glass I swirled freshly squeezed lemon juice into the vanilla sugar syrup, added a bit of water, exactly 2 ice cubes and positioned the garnish slice just so.

A whole onslaught of photos ensued as the ice brought my lemonade masterpiece down to the perfect temperature.  I almost wished for hotter weather.  I stepped outside and took a deep sip from my glass, listening to the ice cubes clink together and finishing the whole orchestra off with a loud resounding “Aaaah!”.  It was perfect.  So that is the story of how I made lemonade out of the lemon life brought my way and enjoyed it with the gusto of a child eating finger food.  If this story gives ya’ll anything dear readers, may it give ya’ll the inspiration to enjoy something that may originally seem simple, but that can bring you a fabulous moment of satisfaction.  I hope ya’ll find your own kind of lemon this week.

Until next time…


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