I’m forbidden from complaining to my Soldier about how hot it is here in Central Texas. It doesn’t matter if it hits 100°F with 75% humidity. According to him, I must “Suck it up and drive on.” That’s how he speaks to me, you guys! Granted, where he’s at it’s reaching 115°F in the shade…at 4AM. Seems like I can still be unhappy every once in awhile in my 100° heat…right? The difference, I acknowledge, is that I have this Lavender-Cardamom Lemonade to stave off dehydration and he has…well, water.
Every time Hector calls, the girl Twink asks him, “How hot was it today?” So far, 115°F has been the hottest it’s been. All of his cohorts are posting on Facebook about how demonic the weather is over there, as well. I can’t help but pity them. Living in metal containers in that heat has to be one step above hades. While I feel for them, I don’t really know what it’s like…well, that’s a lie.
I went to my Advanced Individual Training (or AIT) at Fort Huachuca. Never heard of it? Yeah, me neither. That was, until the Army decided to send me there to learn how to be a Military Intelligence Analyst. Hence, they plunked me down in the middle of Sierra Vista, Arizona. I remember arriving to be processed into the training battalion and doing a complete 360°. Brown…brown…brown…oh, a tarantula…more brown. The color brown was going to be a recurring theme during my time in the desert. Brown and heat. As a result, those were the only things I remember of Ft. “We-gotcha” in the summer.
Then there was El Paso. One-hundred and TWENTY degrees in April. That’s some heat, y’all. Hector and I always wondered why all of our El Pasoan friends never started their parties before 5pm. So, one Saturday, when we tried to have a picnic at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. When we had to support each other to car- you know, heat stroke and all- we figured it out. But, in spite of all this, my hubby feels I’ve not earned the right to complain about heat. He makes a big deal about having to wear a uniform, boots, a weapon; and like, twenty pounds of gear in his heat. That, consequently, makes it, “more intense,” than my heat. Whatevs.
Anyway, heat makes me thirsty and I looooaaaaatttthhhheeee water. Rather, I despise drinking water. It’s so…so…tasteless. Gross. As a result, I go out of my way to make water taste better. When I went to an Indian restaurant recently, I noticed they were serving a cardamom lemonade. After tasting it, however, I was unimpressed. I decided this was going to be my new way of making water less “watery”, and therefore, less nasty. But, instead of settling for only a cardamom lemonade, I wanted to add a little something else to make it completely unique.
Dried lavender is an enigma to some people. Too much added to a recipe and you may as well be eating soap. But, used in the right amount, lavender imparts a subtly herbaceous flavor to your dishes. Adding it and the cardamom to this lemonade takes it from ho-hum to, “You people just drank all my lemonade!” (So, make a lot)
This lavender-cardamom lemonade really is a breeze to mix up. If you’re hosting a BBQ in the coming weeks, be sure to have about a gallon of this on hand. You’re sure to have people getting seconds and thirds, and you definitely don’t want to have to side-eye them because they didn’t leave you any.
My version uses dried lavender that I picked up at a local farmer’s market. Lavande Lavender is definitely my go-to purveyor of lavender, but there’s many other places to purchase it. The key to using lavender in your food is to make sure you’re using organic (when possible), culinary lavender. Always try to purchase lavender buds and nothing else. If you’re using this in recipes besides this one, you don’t want to end up with leaves and stems in your lavender stash. Therefore, purchasing buds is the best way to avoid that.
Again, the important thing to remember when using lavender, is to use it sparingly. In this recipe I steep it in a simple syrup to get the subtle hint of lavender. Another way to incorporate lavender is to pulse the lavender with granulated sugar to create a lavender-infused sugar. Use the sugar in addition to the lavender-infused simple syrup if it’s too wimpy a floral taste for you. It’s always best, in all facets of cooking, to start with less. You can always add more, but it’s hard to take it away.
The cardamom is not as worrisome as the lavender in that you don’t need to worry about cardamom pods overwhelming the recipe. I’m using green cardamom here, but black will also work. Since cardamom is still the third most expensive spice in the world, I always buy and use whole pods. Whole spices, generally, keep longer than ground spices. If you invest in an inexpensive coffee grinder (this is the one I use), dedicated solely for grinding spices, you’ll get a longer shelf-life out of them. In a pinch, buy a small amount of cardamom in case you’re like most people and use it infrequently.
Preparing cardamom is a smash- literally. Take the butt-end of your knife and whack the pod to split it open. That’s it.
Creating an infused simple syrup is almost a sin since it’s so easy. Simple syrups are used to sweeten libations or to moisten cakes in the bakery. It’s called simple syrup for good reason. It’s equal parts granulated sugar and water, brought to a boil and cooled. Making a flavored simple syrup only requires the addition of whatever flavor you desire. Adding dried lavender buds and the cardamom pods to the sugar-water mixture (pre-boil) is what helps us sweeten and flavor the lemonade simultaneously. We’re bringing it up to a boil with the flavorings added in order to extract as much of the essences as we can. After the water has come to a boil, and the sugar has dissolved, we remove it from the stove, cover the pot and allow the spices to steep while we make the lemonade.
So, since making the lemonade only requires, lemons, effort and water, this will be the easiest recipe on the blog. Juice the lemons. It’s times like this I wish I invested in one of these fancy lemon juicers. Unfortunately for me, I’m doing this thing where I’m “minimizing” my countertop. If you have one, use it knowing that I’m suffering from muscle failure juicing mine the primitive way. Juice a bunch of lemons, don’t use that pre-squeezed “lemon juice” they sell on the shelves of the supermarket. I, for the life of me, can’t understand why people use that to make their lemonade. Who actually thinks it tastes like legit lemon juice?!? If you do, contact me, because I need to know what’s really going on.
Fresh lemon juice is worth the effort (and they’re not that expensive). Treat yo’self.
Once the lemons have been squeezed, strain the lavender-cardamom simple syrup to remove the buds and pods. Now we just mix together the lemon juice, simple syrup and water. Add a generous amount of ice to your glass before filling and you’re set. So, now, you can survive the dog-days of summer…just don’t complain about the heat to anyone who lives in the desert.
This is great recipe to pin and share with your friends.
Be sure to use culinary lavender buds, and use them sparingly. Too much and your lemonade will taste like soap.
- 11 cups water divided
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp dried lavender buds
- 3 green cardamom pods crushed
- 3 cups about 10 lemons freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
In a pot, stir together three cups of water, the sugar, the lavender and cardamom pods. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain and allow to cool completely.
In a large pitcher, combine the lemon juice, the remaining water and two cups of the simple syrup. Stir and test. Add more sugar to sweeten to your preference. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Pour over ice and enjoy.
This simple syrup can be made a few days in advanced and can be used in any other recipe that calls for simple syrup.