On the Brink of Summer

It's so close to summer vacation around here that we can TASTE it. What, you might ask, is the taste of nascent summer? Today, it tastes exactly like our favorite late spring/summer frozen dessert, Lemon Ice. Lemon Ice is actually lemon sorbet, but we are fans of things that rhyme with the word rice, because we are fans of Maurice Sendak's towering classic, Chicken Soup with Rice ("whoopy once, whoopy twice, whoopy chicken soup with rice") and so we choose to call our slushy Lemon sorbet, Lemon Ice.

I'll tell you up front that to make this dessert, you have to have an ice cream maker. But don't cringe at that. Like me, you may not know that ice cream makers are no longer the complex all-day rock salt forearm numbing affairs they once were, when the only people who made ice cream at home basically didn't have anything else to do all day. Ice cream makers are pretty simple to use and they don't really cost that much money. Plus, they do that thing I believe I've mentioned before when I've talked about one of the pleasures of cooking: they transform ordinary enough ingredients, in this case, lemon juice, sugar, water and a bit of salt, into something remarkable. I own a Cuisinart ice cream maker. I use it a lot in the spring and summer. I bought it from Amazon — I think it might have been reconditioned, and so quite cheap, but even so it doesn't cost much over $40. My children love it. You keep the freezer bowl in the back of your freezer and it is always ready to go.

Here's what's involved — by way of attribution, I'm pretty sure I found this in the Zuni Cafe Cookbook, because it contains a small amount of flavor-enhancing salt:

1 cup of lemon juice
1 cup of sugar
1/8 teaspoon of salt
2 1/4 cups of water

Whisk it all together, until things dissolve. Chill this mixture. If you don't have time to chill it, then use water you've chilled by putting ice cubes in it first.

Put this in the machine and turn it on. In about twenty minutes, you'll have a lovely lemon slushy thing. If you freeze the stuff, you will have more elegant lemon sorbet. You can make a very nice drink out of this by mixing it with fizzy water. I'm sure you can do something involving alcohol and lemon ice, but I haven't tried that yet.

Happy Summer's Eve.

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