In Florida, we have grapefruit-sized citrus fruit called Ponderosa Lemons. When I was young in the boondocks of Palm Bay, my mom came home from work one day with several brown paper bags full to the brim with these yellow wonders. A co-worker had too many in her tree and couldn’t figure out what to do with them all.
Fresh lemonade replaced our favorite Kool-Aid flavors that summer. There’s nothing like a tall glass of ice-cold lemony bitter-sweetness to quench the thirst.
As we grow up and experience more, we find that life has many bitter-sweet moments. We can either become bitter or let the troubles of life make us better. As a person of faith, I believe that our Lord can use the trials of life to sift out the things that have kept us from wholeness and true wellness (Romans 8:28,29). The bitter can become sweet.
This past school year with my children has been quite a lemonade year. Some of our lemons included three surgeries for me (two of them biopsies), over six months of life-altering health challenges for my oldest child, and a broken arm for my youngest.
Through much prayer and weeping, I’m seeing the sweet results of these difficult times, the ways each of us has grown in faith and love. I’m enjoying a closer relationship with God and my family. Going through hard things together has made our bond that much stronger.
When my teen (who, thank the Lord, is feeling much better) came home from summer camp this week, she was in for a surprise! As a metaphor for our life this past school year, I’d taken some lemons and worked with my younger children to bake one of my favorites: Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake. And my teen got to put the icing on the cake!
Being a fan of turn-of-the-century recipes, I sifted through the Internet to find more lemony recipes below. I can hardly imagine what it must have been like to live in the 19th and 20th centuries, going through the Revolutionary, Civil or World Wars, living on rations, without modern medicine, and trying to raise children. I’m sure the people behind the recipes had no shortage of lemons in their lives and had to learn how to turn them into something sweet.
Try this Lemon Cheesecake from colonial times:
Lemon Chess Pie may have meant cake with no cheese (sounds like chess). Here’s a colonial recipe:
Good old fashioned pioneer lemonade:
Lots of history along with recipes on this site for creating lemon meringue pie:
Some of my favorite cookbooks with old-fashioned recipes are:
The Little House Cookbook (lemonade recipe above) by Barbara M. Walker and pictures by Garth Williams
Treats from the Times by Leu House Volunteers (sold only in the Leu House Museum)
This summer, invite your children to help bake some these lemon-infused desserts. And those lemons in life, if by the grace of God we know how to use them, can become something much more sweet.