Atlanta Journal Constitution Artical


Many years ago I was contacted by the food editor of the Atlanta Journal  Constitution and asked if they could do an 
article on one of the recipes that was to be included in my upcoming cookbook, Grits and Magnolias. This is the article that was featured
 in the food section of the Atlanta Journal. The ladies from the food section of the paper gave the recipe great reviews. 
The food tester for the paper prepared a large batch of the lemonade. She served it at a weekend function before the article was printed in
 the paper. She related to the food editor that everyone really loved the lemonade and wanted to know all about the recipe.  
Below is the resulting article that was featured in the Food Section of the Atlanta Journal:

A Sweet Taste of Rural Summers Long Gone By

Susan, an avid cook, former music teacher and nurse, moved with her husband, George, last year from Atlanta to the family homestead in Alabama. 

She has a one son and two grandchildren.

Susan is writing a cookbook called Grits and Magnolias and it will be dedicated to her grandmother.


In this photo, taken in 1987, there are five generations.

Back row, left to right, Susan's mother, Mozelle. Todd, Susan's son .

Seated, Susan's grandmother Rilla . Susan's gramdmother is holding her first born great grand child,  Rachel.


The story:

"My earliest memories are of my grandmother in her kitchen. I cook the way she did — some call it old-fashioned, and I have to agree with them.

"I was raised by my grandparents and lived really in the sticks, so to speak. My grandfather was a farmer in the biggest sense of the word. He had cotton fields, raised cattle ... had his own cotton gin and pulpwood yard. We were completely self-sufficient. Long, hot summer days were filled with canning vegetables to see us through the winter. The smokehouse was filled with meat, and everything we didn't or couldn't grow, we purchased from the peddler who came by on a regular basis. When I was small, I remember grandmother carefully selecting the flour sacks for their design, knowing she would be sewing something from the fabric of those flour sacks.

"We had more than one churn in the kitchen and a more than one Home Comfort stove. I remember the day the electric churns arrived, and I remember the first electric stove. We had finally moved into the 20th century.

"The best tool — the most used tool in my kitchen — is the tool my grandmother used, my hands. I measure a handful of this and a pinch of that, just as my grandmother did. I have my grandmother's recipes, along with her cast-iron skillets, bread bowls, rolling pins and other things she lovingly used all those years. I don't put them up for display; I use them all.

"I also have her metal lemon press, (pictured below) which I still use to this day.  I always make my lemonade from scratch. That's what I grew up drinking. Back then I had never heard of Minute Maid — we had iced tea, milk from the cows, good coffee and real lemonade.

"My grandmother has gone on to heaven now, but she is still with me, by my side as I cook. I feel her love and I know she is smiling down on me as I prepare her dishes and share them with others.  I know she is also proud of me as I venture out on my own and create new ones"


Grandmother's Top of the Hill Lemonade

10 servings
Hands on: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

"This is lemonade the way it should be," wrote Susan, who couldn't imagine a summer day without it. "It's great served with a wedge of lemon. If I'm having a tea or a luncheon, I might freeze curls of lemon in individual ice cube trays, maybe with a few drops of red food coloring to give it a pink tint." A critical step in this recipe, she says, is that the lemons must be juiced before they are zested to incorporate the peel's essential oils into the juice — which imparts the characteristic citrusy aroma. Does this truly make a discernible difference in taste? Since the recipe requires such a small amount of zest, tester Deborah Geering thinks you could save yourself a little trouble and zest one or two lemons first. But to Susan, it just wouldn't be the same.

1  3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
12 to 14 lemons, at room temperature

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat slightly and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes (mixture should remain clear). Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, wash lemons and cut them in half. Squeeze each half. Measure 2 cups of juice. Zest enough of the squeezed lemons to get 1 1/2 teaspoons. Set aside 2 of the squeezed but unzested halves.

Combine the juice, zest and reserved lemon halves in a large screw-top jar. Pour the warm sugar syrup over them and stir to combine. Let the mixture steep at room temperature for 1 hour. (Store the mixture in the refrigerator; it keeps for several days.)

For each glass of lemonade, fill a tumbler with ice cubes. Add a scant 1/2 cup of the lemon mixture, then fill the glass with water and stir.

Per serving: 48 calories (percent of calories from fat, 0), trace protein, 39 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, no fat (no saturated fat), 2 milligrams sodium.

— Susan Puckett, Atlanta Journal

It is now 2019. Many years have passed since this artical appeared in the AJC.  I did publish my cookbook, Grits and Magnolias, 

which I dedicated to my grandmother.  I am now a great grandmother myself and like my grandmother,

 I am the most happy when in my kitchen preparing meals for those I love.  
I hope one day my great grand daughter will pass on all of grandmother's wonderful recipes

Hope you all will give grandmother's lemonade recipe a try.  I loved it growing up and my family

 and I still enjoy it today. 

Detailed Instructions
What you will need:
2 heaping tablespoons of lemon zest from unsqueezed lemons ( there was a misprint in the article, there is more lemon zest that what is given in the article)
2 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice that is at room temp. (no cheating here)
1 3/4 c. sugar (real thing, a must!)
2 c. water
halves of 3 or 4 lemons (for zesting)
halves of 1 lemon, that you didn't use for zesting (to place in your jar)
Your syrup:
Bring water and sugar to a low boil. Boil until sugar is completely disolved. Reduce temperature to a simmer and simmer for 4 minutes. Make sure you check on it while it is simmering, you do not want the color to change at all. You want it to remain nice and clear. After the 4 minutes are up, remove from heat and set aside to cool down just a little bit, not completely.
Your lemon juice mixture:
While your are making your syrup, it is time to prepare your lemons.
Do not zest your lemons first !  Very important. Can't say this enough, but take my word for it, do not zest your lemons now.
If your lemons have been in the fridge, take them out the night before or at least long enough for them to fully reach room temperature.
Wash your lemons, and cut them in half. Squeeze each half in some manner where the entire lemon half is squeezed, don't just ream them.  You want the oils of the lemon rind itself to be in your lemon juice.  (This is why you do not zest them first.) This is one part of what makes this recipe special.
Pour your juice in a glass jar that has a nice fitting screw on lid. ( I pretty much use what is handy, and most of the time I just use an old large empty pickle jar that hamburger dill slices came in, works great.)
Now take some unsqueezed lemon halves and zest them. (How many halves it will take to get the zest required will depend on the lemon size.) 
 Add your zest to the jar containing your lemon juice. Mix to combine.
Take two lemon halves that you did not zest and place them into your jar. These lemon halves, although squeezed still have some of the oil left in the rind.
You want this oil. 


Stir mixture again. Now it is time to add your sugar syrup. Pour it over the mixture in the jar and mix thoroughly. Let it stay on the counter for 1 hour, then place in fridge.

When ready for a nice glass of lemonade, fill a large tumbler with ice, add water to fill. Use a scant 1/2 cup of your lemonade mixture per glass of your iced water.
Your mixture will keep in the fridge for several weeks, but if you are like me, it will run out way before it dare had a chance to spoil 
Below are pictures of my finished lemonade mixture and the squeezer that I use. This squeezer is the very same one my grandmother used and I am so proud that I have it now. Last year we found a second one at a yard sale (boy someone didn't realize what a great squeezer they were selling). We grabbed it up immediately. If you are lucky enough to have one of these, do hang on to it. If you by chance find one for sale, buy it on the spot. You won't regret your purchase!
You can see the pickle jar here that I use for storing my lemonade mixture.  There is no need to buy something special. As long as the lid screws on tightly, and it has adequate room for all  your mixture, any glass container will work. I do not recommend using plastic.
This is my old squeezer. Notice it has a pour spout at one side. There is also a removable tray that your lemon half will rest on and the tray  is slotted to allow only the juice and maybe a little pulp flow through. This tray also catches your seeds.
When ready to use I place it on a surface that is at a nice working level. I am short, so I need one low enough where I can really press down.  I am sure most of you have more hand strength than myself. . Do not roll your lemons on the counter or squeeze them in your hands. This only releases some of the oil from your lemon rind and you want to save every drop of that oil for the actual squeezing process.   
You just place one half of a lemon inside.
Now you squeeze. So easy and this little old baby works fantastic!
I do hope you will give this recipe a try. For me it is what I call a "comfort drink".  Brings back summer childhood memories that I hold so dear.
****Limeade can be made using this exact recipe. Just substitute limes for lemons. You may want to add more sugar, but we enjoy the tangy taste so I don't add the extra sugar.


Some Lemon Tips:

One pound of lemons equals approximately 4 to 5 medium whole lemons and 2/3 to 1 cup of juice. 

One medium lemon equals approximately 2 to 3 tbsp. of juice, 2 tsp. grated peel, and 7 to 10 slices.

If only a few drops of lemon juice are required, poke a toothpick through the skin of a lemon and squeeze out the small amount needed.

Insert the toothpick back in the hole and place the lemon in a plastic sealable bag. Refrigerate to use at another time.

Another method that can be used to make lemons easier to extract the juice is to freeze them for 24 hours and then thaw in the refrigerator before juicing.

To prevent lemon wedges from squirting juice in unwanted areas, pierce the flesh of the lemon wedge with a fork before squeezing.

Cut down on the amount of salt used on your food by adding lemon instead to enhance the flavor of the food.

For fluffier rice, add lemon juice to the cooking water.

Use lemon juice in place of vinegar in salad dressings.

When serving lemon halves with fish, tie the lemon in cheesecloth so that when the lemon is squeezed the juice will be extracted but the seeds will remain in the cheesecloth.