Spring has sprung, and I’ve never been more excited to welcome a season in my life. Bring on the warm weather, outdoor sports and state fair! Now, if we could just fast forward ahead through the wet, muddy part of spring to the warm, sun-kissed days of summer, that would be ideal.

Theme night cooking has become pretty popular during the past year. Carrying that idea forward, we’ve decided to celebrate the selection of my daughter’s 4-H pigs with a state fair themed dinner! When our family strolls around the Iowa State Fair each August, there are a few food and drink items you’ll always see us carrying around. The pork-chop-on-a-stick from the Iowa Pork Tent and a refreshing cup of chilled watermelon are among the dinnertime favorites.

When it comes to choosing a drink to ward off the late summer heat, there’s only one standby we choose: ice-cold lemonade. Whether you call this classic combination of fresh squeezed lemons, sugar and water a Homemade Lemonade, Old Fashioned Lemonade or Lemon Shake-up, it tastes like perfection in a glass and is the perfect treat to enjoy anytime.

At the Iowa State Fair there are many lemonade stands to choose from. I enjoy flavored lemonade, so Hoppy’s Lemonade gets my business. They have raspberry, cherry, strawberry, blue raspberry flavoring and more! Their lemonades are so tasty, and I enjoy trying different combinations of flavors.

One tip I did learn on my quest to find the best lemonade at the Fair was how to boost the lemon flavor and make it a little sweeter. Meyer lemons are the lemon of choice when it comes to making homemade lemonade, as they have a smoother flavor and aren’t as harshly acidic. However, they aren’t as readily available as the common lemon found in grocery stores. So, to combat the acidity and round out the flavor of the readily available lemons, a few navel oranges are added to the mix.

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Try this recipe for your next party or picnic!

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Old Fashioned Lemonade and Cherry Lemonade

By: Cristen Clark

Makes two large lemonades

Ingredients:

2 lemons

1 small orange

1/2 cup granulated sugar

20 ounces cold water

Cut lemons and orange in half and express all juices into a large shaker bottle. Quarter and reserve some lemon and orange pieces.

Add sugar and water to shaker bottle. Shake for 30 seconds.

Pour into large cups filled with ice and serve cold with a straw. Add expressed lemon pieces for garnish.

For Cherry Lemonade:

Add 3 maraschino cherries and 2 tsp. grenadine syrup to each glass of ice.

Pour prepared lemonade on top of ice, stir. Serve immediately.

For Honey Lemonade:

Swap half of the sugar for honey, stir in well.

Cristen Clark lives on an Iowa farm where her family raises corn, soybeans, pigs and cattle. She loves cooking and writing, and sharing contest winning recipes with people she knows. She can be reached at cristen@foodandswine.com or at foodandswine.com.

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