Hot chocolate is a staple around here, but we sometimes get tired of the usual cocoa mix (cocoa + icing sugar) swirled into warmed milk. Since we’re all fans of peanut butter and chocolate, years ago I tried swirling a spoonful of creamy peanut butter into hot chocolate, and it was a hit. Rich and delicious, it’s enough of an energy boost to take with you in a Thermos to the ski hill, skating, or when you come inside after some snow shovelling or snowman-building.
Summertime is beverage season, and while I’m not against the occasional slurpee, there’s too much in the way of Kool-Aid, pop and other sugary drinks that are so heavily consumed throughout the hot summer months. My standby is homemade lemonade, jazzed up with fresh herbs, ginger or sliced cucumber. Lemons are classic, of course – but limes and even grapefruit can be added to the mix to shake things up a bit, so to speak.
To make your own lemonade concentrate, bring equal parts freshly squeezed lemon juice and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan. (I usually do a cup of each.) Stir to dissolve the sugar, and if you want to add flavour, grate in some fresh ginger, toss in a few stalks of chopped rhubarb, or a handful of mint, rosemary or thyme, and strain before serving.
Your lemonade concentrate will keep up to a couple weeks in the fridge; to make a pitcher or glass of lemonade, add water or sparkling water to taste, and a handful of ice. (This concentrate also works well with lime juice, and makes a fine mojito or addition to a gin & tonic.)