Wednesday, August 10, 2005

My Grandmother's Cool Kitchen

Thinking about memories of kitchens I have known, I was reminded this morning of how cool (literally) my grandmother's farmhouse kitchen used to be on hot summer days. We lived just down the road from my grandmother, and we kids were often sent there on one errand or another. We especially liked going in there on a hot day. There was a dirt and rock cellar under her house, and so the house stayed cooler than most. I suppose she also opened the windows at night and closed everything up in the early morning while it was still cool. So when you went into her kitchen later in the day, it was cool and dim -- she refrained from putting lights on too, and the shades were drawn against the sun. Oh, how nice it felt after the steamy heat of a New England summer day! Even better were the times when Gram would open up the refrigerator and pour us a glass of chilled iced tea from the jug she kept there. She had some of those shiny aluminum tumblers in different colors, and the tea tasted especially icy when sipped from one of those.

This summer, I've been trying to follow Gram's example and keep a jug of iced tea in the fridge. After tweaking a few recipes, this is the best formula I've come up with.

12 tea bags, either regular tea or green tea
6 cups boiling water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup orange juice
6 cups water
Ice and lemon slices, optional
In a large bowl, pour the boiling water over the tea bags. Let steep. (Green tea should steep no longer than 7 minutes.) Remove tea bags, squeezing excess tea back into the bowl. Add the sugar, lemon juice and orange juice; stir well to dissolve sugar. Let cool until lukewarm. Pour tea mixture into a gallon jug or container. (I use one of those nifty glass jugs with a spigot.) Add the cold water and stir well. Add ice and lemon slices if desired. This makes a really neat thing to take along to a picnic at the beach or elsewhere. I just keep it in a cooler with ice. The ice and lemon slices make it look so refreshing!

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