My mom makes a very particular pasta salad which she calls Asian Chicken Pasta Salad. There is grilled teriyaki chicken, nuts, pasta, snow peas, and mandarin oranges, and altogether its a salty-sweet, chewy-crunchy flavor bonanza. All of those different elements and textures come together and make something that’s really delightful and I love it. I love it so much that I’ve tried making it over and over for the past 10+ years but I can never seem to get it quite right. After getting myself all amped up about the fact that “this time” it’s going to be perfect and then find my soul crushed because once again it is missing some mysterious element that I can’t identify I have just given up entirely. I am putting my hand over my heart and solemnly swearing to the entire cyber universe that I will never attempt to make it again for as long as I live. My ego is rather fragile and I just can’t deal with any more pasta salad-induced disappointment. My only consolation is that I’ve never attempted to make the pasta salad at a time when Mom was going to eat it so until now she was blissfully unaware of the degree to which I have failed at this particular endeavor.
Lemonade, it seems, ranges from being tart enough to make you pucker to super sweet, and everything in between. This lemonade is an old recipe of my mom’s that she picked up somewhere and has become a staple at our summertime gatherings ever since. The addition of orange juice concentrate to the mix mellows the tartness of the lemon juice and steeping mint in the citrus mixture makes it so very refreshing! I think it’s perfect. In fact I like it so much that we mixed up a huge batch to serve our wedding guests as they waited for the reception to start while we took pictures after the ceremony.
……Actually, I have no memory of preparing the lemonade that day, it just magically appeared after the ceremony as I had requested. Which means that on top of everything else she had to worry about that day, my Mom was also mixing lemonade for 150 guests to fulfill another whim of the bride. Now, 12 years later, I still think of that day every time I have a glass and it makes me smile. :) Thanks Mom (and your lovely friends who I’m sure helped)! :)
The beauty of this mint-infused lemonade is that it makes a lemonade mix from frozen orange juice concentrate and bottled lemon juice so there is no squeezing of lemons involved! This makes a lot of lemonade mix, so it works great for a crowd! Just combine the mix with equal parts water and you are ready to go! In my version seltzer water and spirits give it some extra sparkle, so it was right at home at our July 4th picnic over the weekend.
To start, dissolve some sugar in water. Add all of your remaining ingredients and let it steep for 1-2 hours. Strain the mint and your mix is ready! Combine it with plain water as called for in the original recipe or substitute seltzer water to make it fizzy. A nice splash of triple sec and vodka make it a party! Be warned: you can’t even taste the vodka so drink with care!