Showing posts with label lemons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lemons. Show all posts

Friday, April 28, 2017

Ginger Lemonade

Recently I was at a bookstore with a nice café for a signing. Since I was supposed to read something and I was thirsty, I ordered a cold drink. I was in a daring mood and asked for a ginger lemonade, which I’d never tried. And I really liked it!

I’m trying to find alternatives to caffeinated drinks—I confess that I love coffee and tea and various forms of iced tea, but that can add up to a lot of caffeine. But I haven’t been impressed by the non-caffeine commercial varieties of drinks. This, however, fit the bill nicely.

So I went looking for recipes for ginger lemonade. (I admit that you can always go the easy route: buy a gallon plastic jug of supermarket lemonade and a bottle of ginger syrup (if you can find or order one), mix and pour over ice. Done.) But where’s the fun of that? And how many preservatives come along for the ride? Ginger lemonade is pretty simple to make.

I was surprised to find a range of possible recipes online, and no two were the same. although they all boil down (a pun!) to making some sort of ginger/lemon syrup.

Variations include: how to deal with the ginger (slice or grate), what ratio of lemon juice to water to use, whether or not to include lemon peel, and what kind of sweetener to use and how much. But no matter how you make it, it makes a great drink for a hot day. Me, I opted for simple (I hate to grate anything—I’m always sure I’ll grate my fingers).

Ginger Lemonade


That thing in the middle is my lemon squeezer
6 cups water
1-1/4 cup sugar
2 ounces of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced 
     (you should have about 1/3 cup of slices)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (three large lemons)

Sliced ginger


Steeped ginger and sugar
Combine one cup of water, the sugar and the sliced ginger in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let cool (the longer it sits, the more intense the ginger flavor).

Juice from three lemons
Strain the mixture through a sieve into a pitcher. Add the remaining 5 cups of water and the lemon juice and stir. Serve over ice.

I was happy with the results. It might taste a bit sweet to some people at first, but if you add ice it will get diluted. I thought the juice:water ratio was just right. Feel free to experiment, especially on hot summer days!

One interesting point: I have a lot of vintage cookbooks, so I went looking in them to see if there was a ginger lemonade recipe from the past. I couldn’t find one. There are plenty of gingerbread or ginger cookie recipes, going back centuries, but nothing using fresh ginger. And then it hit me: it probably wasn’t available. Powdered ginger is easy to make and ship, but most ginger grows in exotic and distance places, and the fresh kind wouldn’t last over a long ocean voyage. So oddly enough, ginger lemonade seems to be a relatively modern recipe.

A note to my readers: I will be attending the Malice Domestic mystery conference in Maryland for a few days, along with many of my writer friends. If I don't respond to your comments immediately, that's my excuse! But I will read them when I return, I promise!

And if you're looking for summer reading and it's hot, try my County Cork series--the weather is pleasantly cool there all summer. The most recent book, Cruel Winter, takes place during a snowstorm!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Citrus-Poached Fish

It has been hot here in Massachusetts lately. I do not have air-conditioning (I have lots of fans and windows that open on both sides of the house, but it’s not the same, believe me). And there’s a heat wave scheduled for today, and tomorrow, and . . .  So lately my thoughts have run to recipes that involve a minimum of heat to prepare.

Oh, all right, it's not Massachusetts. But this
is how it feels!

Sure, I could grill food outside, but for a few weeks it’s been only me at home (spouse has been gallivanting around the world to exotic places where other people prepare his food for him), and it seems a waste to stoke up the Weber to grill one pathetic piece of chicken.

So, I looked to fish. Cooks quickly. Adapts to just about any flavor. Healthy. Over the years I’ve provided MLK readers with a lot of fish recipes, from creamy to spicy. Well, here’s yet another one!

Citrus-Poached Fish

(This recipe serves four; I made a half recipe)


3 lemons
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
2 Tblsp dry white wine
1/2 cup chopped shallots
2 Tblsp fresh dill
2 Tblsp drained capers (note: the capers were in short supply in my pantry, so I added a few green peppercorns to spice things ups)
4 fish fillets (a generous pound total)—you can use any firm-fleshed white fish, such as cod. I chose pollock, because at our market this week it was wild-caught and never frozen.
4 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste

Slice one of the lemons in half and squeeze to make 2 Tblsp juice. Slice the remaining lemons thinly.

In a large skillet, combine the broth, wine, lemon juice and shallots. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 2 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer for another ten minutes. Stir in the dill and capers.


Place the fillets in the liquid. Drizzle with the olive oil and lay the lemon slices on top. Simmer, loosely covered, until the fish flakes easily (this should take about 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillets).

Ready to cook
Taste the broth and add salt if needed. Serve with rice or couscous, and spoon some of the cooking liquid over the fish.

This is the next book, Seeds of Deception, coming from Berkley Prime Crime in October. As you can guess from the cover, it takes place in winter.

In this I've managed to combine Monticello and the Mafia, and the town where I went to high school. It was a lot of fun to write.

You can pre-order it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

As it happens, I'm working on two other books at the moment: the next County Cork mystery, Winters Past, also set in winter (with a blizzard!); and the next Relatively Dead mystery (still nameless), which takes place in October. Good planning, right? At least I can think cool thoughts while I swelter at my keyboard.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How Snakebites and Bleach Can Quench Your Thirst and Let's Play Dead!

Have you ever quenched your thirst with a Snakebite? No? How about Chlorine Bleach? I know what you're thinking: Are you crazy? They're poison. They'll kill you. Not if you drink them my way....

"Snakebites" and "Chlorine Bleach"
are types of shandies...

Cleo Coyle, who sips Blue
Moons by moonlight, is
author of The Coffeehouse
I never heard of a shandy until I traveled to the UK, where pub life introduced me to the delights of this drink, along with a "ploughman’s lunch," but that's another post.

The shandy I drank, which was a mix of Harp beer and carbonated lemonade, was love at first sip. Bright, refreshing, a delightful summer cooler! Unfortunately, after I returned to America, bartenders shook their heads when I ordered one.

Mixing beer with lemonade? Please. In my hometown, bartenders poured you an Iron City or Rolling Rock off the tap—and that was it. Mixing it with lemonade made as much sense as mixing it with chlorine bleach, which is (ironically) exactly what certain regions of Spain call their version of a shandy. :)

Well, it's over 20 years later and American bars regularly serve Mexican beers (e.g., Corona) with a wedge of lime or lemon.

BTW – I always wondered why this was done. One source claims adding lime and lemon to these beers hides a type of spoilage known as skunking, which comes from exposure to light or heat during shipping—an especially common problem with beer shipped in clear bottles.

A squeeze of citrus was supposed to mask this defect, and according to at least one Texan I know, the citrus also "keeps the flies out of your beer." :)

These days, even standard American brands like Bud and Miller are marketing a variety of bottled beer already mixed with lime. My favorite of this new trend comes from the Coors brewery in Colorado, which introduced a very nice line of bottled beers with citrus notes, under the Blue Moon label. (I could drink these babies all day...)

Like many lagers, Brooklyn is
a bit bitter. For me, it didn't
work in a shandy. I also
found the Sprite too sweet
and cloying.


Generally speaking, a shandy is a lager beer mixed with a citrus-beverage like lemonade, or a citrus-flavored soda (such as Sprite or 7-Up). The proportions are generally half-and-half, but almost everyone (including me) adjusts to taste.

NOTE #1: I've tasted many versions and concluded that lagers (like the Brooklyn Lager in my photo at the right) are too bitter to use for a shandy. I strongly recommend using a pale lager like Heineken, Corona, Amstel Light, Rolling Rock, Michelob, Coors Light, or the Japanese Sapporo.

For more on pale lagers, click here.

NOTE #2: Frankly, I find Sprite and 7-UP to be too sweet and cloying for the drink. For my taste, the very best shandy will always be made with lemonade...

As for the Snakebite and Chlorine Bleach, you'll find them listed below, along with some other names for this drink...

SHANDYGRAFF, as it's known in the UK, is a mixture of beer and ginger beer or ginger ale.

LAGER TOPS is also served in the UK; it's made by pouring a layer of non-carbonated lemonade or freshly-squeezed lime juice over the top of a beer before serving.

BLACK SHANDY is enjoyed in Canada; it uses stout (instead of lager) with a carbonated citrus soda.

OLD GROUCH ("Brummbär") is Germany's mixture of stout and cola.

SNAKEBITE is an American version that uses beer and hard (alcoholic) cider. (Note: See the comments section of this post for a note from Riley/Elizabeth on this drink.)

DEVIL is Belgium’s version of a Snakebite. 

PANCAHE, served in Italy and French-speaking Switzerland, is a shandy made with lemon-lime soda (e.g. 7-UP or Sprite).

STING ("pika") is the name for this same drink in Basque, Spain.

CHLORINE BLEACH ("leija") is apparently what they call this drink in Spain’s Guipuscoa region!

To read more about the differences among lager, ale, stout, and porter, click here.

The link will take you to Riley Adams' (Elizabeth Spann Craig's) informative post for this blog: A Side Order of Beer.

Finally, here's how I make
a shandy in Queens, New York...


Per serving...

1 glass or mug (frosted is suggested)

1 bottle of pale lager beer (trust me, use a pale lager*, other lagers are too bitter)

Lemonade (carbonated is traditional, but I use non-carbonated and enjoy it. You can also make your own carbonated lemonade by mixing fresh lemonade with club soda.)

Method: First pour the beer into your glass. Add the lemonade. To what ratio? I recommend 3-parts beer to 1-part lemonade. You’ll enjoy a refreshing citrus note without flattening or overwhelming the beer.

*As mentiond in my post above, examples of pale lagers include (but are not limited to) the brands: Heineken, Corona, Amstel Light, Rolling Rock, Michelob, Coors Light, or the Japanese Sapporo.

Drink with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of 
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes,
sign up to win free coffee,
or learn about my books,
drop by my *virtual*
coffeehouse at...

Murder by Mocha

Releasing August 2nd

Includes chocolate recipes!

"...a tasty espresso-dark tale of
multigenerational crime and
punishment lightened by the Blend's
frothy cast of lovable eccentrics."
~ Publishers Weekly

To pre-order from Amazon, click here 

To pre-order from Barnes and Noble click here for the book; for the Nook click here.

Roast Mortem

Includes firehouse recipes!
A Reviewer’s Pick 
Favorite Book of the Year ~ 2010
Coming to paperback
August 2nd

To pre-order
from Amazon click here.

To pre-order
from Barnes and Noble,
click here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


As a reader of my Coffeehouse Mysteries, Paul found me on Facebook. I was intrigued to learn about his occupation. Because many of us on this blog write about (or enjoy reading about) professionals in the culinary field, I invited Paul to guest blog for us. I'm so happy he agreed! Please welcome, Paul Yates... ~ Cleo Coyle

Paul Yates
 As a professional baker, it is easy to let my job become just “a job”, and forget the enjoyment many derive from the products we bake. I work at Pineland Bakery, a family-owned bakery that has been serving the Waynesboro, GA community for over 30 years.

In the five years I have been here, I have been head cashier, sales manager, IT manager, marketing director, coffee brewer, and most recently, chief baker. Actually, most times I wear most of those caps at the same time!

Pineland Bakery, Waynesboro, GA

Paul's Bear Claws

I love good food, as my waistline can testify! My dear wife is a wonderful cook, who has had excellent cooking techniques handed down to her by her mother, and I myself was no stranger to the kitchen as I grew up. I was fortunate to be surrounded by family who could really, REALLY cook, and very little of it was actually GOOD for me!

Paul's Chocolate-Frosted Doughnuts

(Hungry yet?!)
Paul's Cheese Danish

As a child, I used to spend quite a bit of time with my great-grandmother, a dear lady we all called Granny Clyde. She was old, born in 1899, and she saw a lot of history before she died during her mid-nineties. I remember seeing pictures of her during the Roaring Twenties, and thinking how incredibly gorgeous she was.

She grew up in the mountains of North Carolina, and, despite her relation to certain feuding families, managed to attend college and become a teacher.

She was one of the first women in her area to teach poverty-stricken African-Americans how to read, so that they could vote. She was also a tremendously accomplished cook and baker, and I always enjoyed visiting her, especially since she fed us such great homemade food!

Paul's Apple Fritters

One of Granny Clyde's favorites was called “Lemon Chess Pie”. It was a baked custard pie, like an egg custard, but was much richer. It's actually insanely rich, but so wonderful, you don't care about the calories it contains! The recipe has seen a few changes over the years, but it has only gotten better with the tweaking.

One of the qualities that sets it apart from other pies is the "Melt-in-your-mouth" crust that forms on top of the pie as a result of the margarine and sugar in the filling. If only I could figure out how to recreate just this one element! I could cut the calories way down!

Ok, so enough with the's that recipe!

Lemon Chess Pie


1 ½ cup sugar
4 eggs
1 ½ Tbsp. Vinegar
½ cup margarine, melted
1 tsp. Lemon extract
¼ tsp. Salt
9 inch unbaked pie crust

Directions: Mix all ingredients. Pour into unbaked pie crust. Bake @ 325 F for 40-45 minutes.

On a final note, I would like to thank Cleo
for the opportunity to share
this recipe with the readers of this blog.

~ Paul Yates

Thank YOU, Paul, for sharing yourself,
your memories, and your fantastic recipe!
Blessings to you and your family.
~ Cleo

You can visit
Pineland Bakery online,
by clicking here.

You can also "Like"
Pineland Bakery on Facebook and
"follow" Pineland Bakery on Twitter.

To leave a comment or question for Paul,
click the "Comment" hot link below...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger - Dean James!

Dean James is a virtual dean of the mystery field. An Agatha Award winner, he has contributed to anthologies (Delta Blues and the upcoming Lone Star Noir) and co-authored thoughtful non-fiction, including By a Woman's Hand (a guide to mystery fiction by women) and The Robert B. Parker Companion. He has penned 14 mystery novels under his own name and two pseudonyms (Jimmie Ruth Evans and Honor Hartman). A working medical librarian (with a PhD and MSLS), Dean has also served as a manager for Murder by the Book in Houston, Texas, one of the country’s oldest and largest mystery bookstores.

This August, Dean is launching a new mystery series that many people (including me!) are looking forward to reading. MURDER PAST DUE is the first book in Dean’s "Cat in the Stacks" series, which he is writing under the pseudonym Miranda James. To tell you more about it, I am delighted and honored to give you our guest for the day, Dean James.   ~ Cleo Coyle


I blame Nancy Drew for my life of crime. Reading it and writing it.

I was ten when I borrowed The Secret of Shadow Ranch from a cousin. It was the first mystery I ever read, and I was hooked. Then, to my delight, I discovered this was only one of a long series of adventures in which Nancy solved mystery after mystery. Just as exciting, I soon found other amateur mystery-solvers: the Hardy Boys, the Dana Girls, Judy Bolton, Trixie Belden, and many more. By the time I began reading adult mysteries, my love of the amateur detective was completely entrenched.

When I decided I wanted to write a mystery myself, I knew my main character would be an amateur. After all, I’m not a policeman, or a lawyer, or a private detective. But I do have a healthy dose of curiosity about the world around me and the people in it. Charlie Harris, the sleuth in my new “Cat in the Stacks” series, is just like me in that respect. He’s also about my age (fiftyish, if you must know), he’s a librarian, he grew up in Mississippi, and he has a Maine coon cat. That’s as far as it goes, however. (I have two cats, by the way, neither of which is a Maine coon.)

While my life is pretty predictable, Charlie’s is far more interesting. He finds himself involved in the occasional murder in his hometown of Athena, Mississippi. He also lives in a big old Southern house and has enough money so that he really doesn’t have to work in the library for a living; he just does it because he likes to stay busy. Plus he gets to take his cat, Diesel, with him everywhere he goes. (I can imagine how well that would go over if I took one of my cats to work with me. Diesel is so much better behaved than either of my two.)

But all this is part of the fun of having an amateur detective. I know a lot of mystery readers don’t think amateur detective stories are very realistic, but I’ll let you in on a big secret. I’m not writing realism – I’m writing escapism. I don’t know about you, but I read to get away from the “real” world. I have a lot more fun tagging along with an amateur than I would shadowing a homicide cop trailing a grisly serial killer.

I also have a lot of fun writing stories about amateur detectives, and I hope my readers will enjoy themselves as they tag along with Charlie and Diesel in Murder Past Due.

I love books and reading, and as a good Southern boy, I also have a taste for good Southern desserts – and there’s none I like better than a lemon icebox pie like my mother used to make. I thought I’d share her recipe with you, and if you have a chance to make it, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

Lemon Icebox Pie(without meringue)

1 can (14 ounces) Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
½ cup lemon juice (about 4 fresh lemons will give you this)
2 eggs, beaten by themselves

Mix the beaten eggs with the sweetened condensed milk, then add the lemon juice and mix well. (If you want to be completely certain the eggs are cooked, pop the mixture in the oven for a few minutes at 350 degrees F. or whisk over low heat in a saucepan.) Then pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust. Set into the icebox until firm.

Note: If you’d like to make the mixture fluffier, add either cream cheese (2 to 4 ounces) or whipped cream (up to 10 ounces). The Lemon Ice Box pie that you see pictured had 1 cup of heavy cream added. With an electric mixer, the cream was first whipped into a thick froth, then the lemon mixture was slowly blended in until a smooth pie filling formed.

Graham Cracker Crust:
1 package graham crackers (about 1-2/3 cups crumbs)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup melted butter

Combine crumbs and sugar first, then add melted butter. Press crumb mixture inside 9-inch pie plate and spread evenly over bottom and sides. (Optional: The crust that you see pictured was also baked in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F. The baking is optional. It will harden the crust a bit and add a slightly toasted flavor.)

Thank you, Dean!
And to all our visitors
and followers...

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Arizona Sunshine Pie

One of the many wonderful things about
living in Arizona is the plentiful citrus trees.
Just about everyone has either a grapefruit,
lemon, lime or orange tree in their yard.
I have peach, pomegranate and plum (but
that's because I like a challenge). I am
planning to put both a lemon and a lime
in my yard, but until then, I have plenty
of friends with overloaded citrus trees,
looking to off load their abundance onto
me. I say, "Bring it!" There is nothing
as wonderful as home grown fruit fresh
off the tree!

Here is one of my favorite recipes
(my neighbor made it for us and shared
the recipe) Thanks, Linda!

I just love it, because not only is it tasty but it
uses the WHOLE lemon. Yup, rind and all!
Talk about not letting your fruit
go to waste. And even better than
that, it's EASY!

Arizona Sunshine Pie

1 large lemon
4 eggs
1 stick butter, melted
1 tspn vanilla
1 ½ cups sugar
1 unbaked piecrust

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut lemon into chunks leaving rind on.
Remove seeds. In a blender or food
processor, blend together lemon,
eggs, butter, vanilla and sugar until
mixture is smooth (should be
very watery). Pour into unbaked
pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for
about 45 minutes. If crust becomes
too brown, cover edges with
foil and finish baking. Serve with
whipped cream!

Now, how often do you get to taste sunshine?

Jenn McKinlay
Available NOW!

aka Lucy Lawrence
Available NOW!


The first book in the Memphis Barbeque series, Delicious and Suspicious, will be released July 6. To celebrate its upcoming release, I’m throwing a giveaway! :)Are you interested in winning Williams-Sonoma’s Ultimate Grilling Rub Collection? It’s easy to enter! Just send an email to with
“Contest” in the subject line.

Really, really want to up your chances?You’ll get one extra entry if you follow us on Twitter, one extra if you subscribe to our posts (in the right hand sidebar under “Subscribe”), and one extra for becoming a follower (by clicking the “follow” button in the right hand column under our book covers and blog roll.) Just send us an extra email at and let us know what you’ve signed up for. If you’re already a follower or subscriber, let us know that, too!