Sugar-free Mint Lemonade

The summer I turned 14, my family spent a week at a resort in New Hampshire.  The resort had a lot of scheduled activities for the kids, a la Dirty Dancing, except I was playing volleyball and watching cheesy kids movies instead of hooking up dancing the merengue with a hottie.  Perhaps the 18 year-olds were doing that. At our much less movie-worthy activities, there were a bunch of kids from Boston who seemed to make up about 75% of the available age-appropriate friends.  They were all part of the same family - sisters, brothers, cousins - and they ranged in age from maybe 10 to about 17.  They were loud and rowdy and had INTENSE Boston accents, and they called me Georgia.  It was not a term of endearment.

I had not yet learned the art of ignoring people who are mean to you, so I felt stung by the questions they asked in mock twangy accents - Do Y'ALL have chickens in your yard?  Do Y'ALL ever wear shoes?  Do Y'ALL park your cars in your front yard?  

I couldn't understand why they couldn't see from looking at me and hear from talking to me that I wasn't like that - that we lived in a regular house with a driveway, plenty of shoes, and no chickens.  I didn't want to be seen as a country bumpkin.  I wanted to be sophisticated and savvy, and there was nothing I could do to convince them that I was.  The more I tried to polish my language and explain my home in a small town, the twangier their teasing got.  I don't think they were actually mean - just the result of a gaggle of immature kids all showing off for one another.  And they could see how much it bothered me.

Ah, the ironies of life.

Nowadays, there's little else that I fantasize about as much as being a country bumpkin. I'd love to throw off this city and my shoes and run around in the grass while a bunch of chickens squawk away.  Those kids had it so wrong about my life at the time, but they didn't know they were forecasting what would later be my fantasies.  (And of course they were asking the wrong questions.  It probably didn't even occur to them to wonder whether there were squirrels in our freezer ready to be put into gumbo or whether I knew how to hook my own worms for fishing.)

Though I will probably never live in the South again (that pesky gay marriage thing), I whole-heartedly plan to create that leisurely pace of life and re-acquire a slow drawl at some point down the road.  When I'm feeling like that point is a little too far away, I like to reconnect with some of those simple pleasures that remind me of home - whether the one from my past or the one I dream of for my future.  In the summer, that's invariably sweet tea or lemonade, drunk in the sun.

Sugar-free Mint Lemonade

10 lemons, juiced (about 2 cups)
6 cups water
3/4 cup agave nectar (this is enough for us, but feel free to add more if you like things sweeeter)
one handful mint

1.  In a pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, turn off the burner and add the agave nectar and the mint (It doesn't have to be chopped).  Let that steep for 10-20 minutes so the water gets all sweet and minty.  Yum.

2.  Pour your lemon juice and the other 4 cups of water into your pitcher.  Tap your foot expectantly while you wait for your mint to steep.  When you can't wait any longer, pull out the mint sprigs, and pour the sweet minty water into the pitcher.

3.  Pour over ice.  Add a sprig of mint. 

4.  Go outside. 

5.  Enjoy.

We also like to dilute this sometimes with seltzer for a fizzy treat - we're wild like that.  And I suspect it would be yummy with a little booze.