50 Shots of America–Kansas

Over the Rainbow

Over the Rainbow

Toto, I think we ARE in Kansas this week, the 34th state in this glorious nation!

Look, Toto, at those dear, dear fields of wheat, sorghum and sunflowers.

And over there, why those are some of the wagon ruts still engraved on our prairie from the Sante Fe Trail (1820 to 1881), can you imagine?

Oh, in that direction we could go to Dodge City, where men such as Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp kept the peace in those lawless Wild West days.

You know, Toto, my ruby slippers are just a little uncomfortable after all this traveling, what do you say about following the I-70 over to Topeka and the headquarters of Payless for a quick shopping trip?

Whew! It’s sure good to be home, Toto. I hope Auntie Em has some lemonade ready, I could use a tall drink after visiting the Hutchinson Salt Mines. Or maybe something a wee bit stronger?

Over the Rainbow

1 oz Limoncello
1/2 oz Beer
1/2 oz Tonic Water

Combine Limoncello and Beer over ice and shake like a twister in a trailer park. Pour in Tonic Water and swirl to chill before straining into the waiting cordial glass.

This is my twist on a hard lemonade and can definitely give those packaged drink a run for their money–even Todd liked it (and he generally doesn’t like my beer cocktails), said it was “surprisingly refreshing.” Don’t have any Limoncello on hand? In as few as 4 days you can, according to my recent experiments infusing this particular flavor. We used the 12-week (and it blended beautifully) version but I’m sure the 4-day as well as the imported stuff will work just fine.

Drinking at home is so much better, Toto, none of that 10% drink tax to worry about! (And thank heavens we don’t live in one of the 29 dry counties!)

with apologies to L Frank Baum (but only a few, as his Kansas descriptions were based on his time in South Dakota)

What’s So Hard About Being a Lemon?


You know the saying: When life gives you lemons… But why stop at just plain old lemonade? Why not bring lemonade from the stand to the shaker and beyond?

When you hear “Hard Lemonade” it probably brings to mind the bottled malt beverages that come in a variety of flavor options. To make this sort of lemonade, it takes your basic home brew kit, some sorbate-free lemon juice concentrate, malt extract and yeast (the brewing kind). While I’m sure there’s finesse required to make a truly exceptional hard lemonade this way, the 6 to 8 weeks it would take before it was ready is a bit of a deterrent.

If you’d like something a bit quicker, try one of these recipes on for size:

Sunny’s Hard Lemonade
(adapted from Cooking for Real on the Food Network)

4 oz 2:1 Simple syrup
1 oz Vanilla Vodka
2 oz Lemon Juice

Mix over ice in a tall glass. Serves 1. Garnish with a slice of lemon, lime, or both.

Now you know I’m going to love this because of the vanilla vodka, right? Of course! It’s actually a good, fresh lemonade, very tart, but that hint of vanilla just makes it oh-so-good. Plus, with the relatively low alcohol content you could sip these all through a barbecue or pool party with little worry.

Hard Lemonade
(adapted from DrinksMixer.com)

1.5 oz Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
.5 oz Sweet and Sour Mix
4-6 oz. Sprite
Splash of Grenadine

Combine, in order, in a tall glass over ice.

The original called for Jack Daniel’s but I didn’t have any and Squirt is kinda hard to find around here. I wouldn’t mind trying it with a citrus soda that had more grapefruit influences (I’ll bet I could find a good substitute at World Market–their beverage section is awesome) and see what difference it made. The taste of this version is, obviously, stronger and Todd thinks that going down to a single ounce of Whiskey might be a better plan for those not into the harder flavors. The grenadine really makes this one for me, though, the touch of sweet pink making it more palatable than if it were just the booze and soda.

Of course, if you prefer your lemonade with a different edge, have you ever had the Earl Grey Lemonade from Earl of Sandwich? The recipe couldn’t be simpler: brew a pot of fairly strong Earl Grey tea and then dilute with a can of lemonade mix (the frozen kind is fine) and the 2 or 3 cans of water it calls for. It’s incredibly refreshing and suitable for all ages.

I know that school will be starting again very soon and, with it, the end of what we think of as Summer. But the heat will surely continue for many months, at least down here in Florida, so there’s still plenty of time to enjoy your lemonade–hard or soft.