Lemon Grape Bubbly

People still drink punch, right?  Not like at real parties or anything, but I bet it still gets served at office parties.  My last punch was at a middle school dance I helped chaperone.  One of the stay at home moms (who also seemed to be a stay out of the kitchen mom) dumped a bunch of Sprite into a gigantic bowl and then floated a plastic bucket-shaped iceberg of generic rainbow sherbert in the middle.  It was…not great.

I don’t know what constitutes a punch exactly.  I think it’s just two liquid ingredients and a big bowl.  The bowl is important.  I don’t think you can make punch in a pitcher.  Or can you?  This week’s concoction, Lemon-Grape Bubbly, was made in a pitcher BUT it was also on a page with other punches, so I guess it’s a push.

It’s from the Some Like A Lot section of the book.  That bothers me because it’s total preparation volume is far less than some of the other punches in the book.  I think they just wanted to have rhyming sections.  I can’t judge.

The grape juice and Kool-Aid both assert themselves forcefully in the nosegrope.  It smells quite refreshing.

The grape juice provides the most flavor.  It’s the backbone of the drink.  The Lemonade Kool-Aid is layered on top of that, and the 7 Up really helps to thin things out and add some sparkle.  7 Up is not nearly strong enough to compete with such strong flavor opponents.  All of the flavors work very well together, but they are intense.  It’s a very tart and very sweet drink.  Four ounces of 7 Up and grape juice alone constitutes around 60 grams of sugar.  But it’s not bad!

A better attempt would be to replace the 7 Up with soda water.  And a lot more than the 2 cups the recipe calls for.  And a lot of ice.  And maybe a lot of vodka.  Thin this stuff out and it would be an ok punch.  Or drink.  Or whatever the rule is.  Just pour it in a big bowl and go nuts.  And tell that lady with the sherbert bucket to go the hell home.  Nobody likes her anyway.

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Citrus-flavored Yogurt

I can’t decide how Kool-Aid Comes of Age was put together.  On one hand I think they started with very simple ideas for recipes, sticking to the obvious punches and drinks.  But maybe those were too obvious.  Of course a Kool-Aid cookbook is going to have drink recipes.

Maybe they just went full-on adventurous, dreaming grand dreams like brave culinary visionaries, and started with the pies and the desserts and the main courses.

Either way, at some point they realized they needed some recipes to pad out the book.  Their deadline was looming, and their editor was getting antsy, so they needed something quick and simple.

EXT. THE KOOL-AID TEST LAB KITCHEN

ALICE
Ya got anymore punch ideas?

DEB
I’m out. How about desserts? Have we
frozen the stuff every way we could think of?

ALICE
Yeah, we did…damn. What about pies?

DEB
I’m spent, Alice. I peaked with the Sweet ‘n
Sour Pork idea. What are we gonna do?

ALICE
What if we just mix it in with something?
Just by itself. Like two ingredients.

DEB
Well, it’s not the most exciting idea I’ve
heard, but I’m game.

Barry Manilow’s “I Write the Songs” wafts in from the open door.

ALICE
(calling down the hall)
Hey, Barb?!

BARB
Yea honey?!

ALICE
Whatcha got for lunch today?!

BARB
I gotta sandwich with some turkey I picked
up on sale at the A&P!

DEB
(looking disappointed)
Nope.

ALICE
What else?!

BARB
Some saltines! A banana!

Alice looks at Deb.

DEB
We covered bananas.

ALICE
Is that it, Barb?!

BARB
I got some plain yogurt.

Alice and Deb look at other. Deb looks around the kitchen. There is some spilled Kool-Aid powder near one of the sinks.

ALICE
What flavor is that?

DEB
Lemonade.

ALICE and DEB
Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Cut to two weeks later and we have a proof copy of the book circulating around the Kool-Aid offices, and people are stopping by to congratulate Alice and Deb.  A few weeks later the book is published and every 70s housewife finds herself deciding between Whipped Lemon Butter, Double Berry Sauce, or Citrus-Flavored Yogurt for her next party.

I’m in talks to reunite Lori Petty and Geena Davis for the roles of Alice and Deb.

Citrus-flavored yogurt is one of our final recipes in the Stir-ins and Pour-ons section.  It’s not terrible but it’s not great.  The flavor progression starts out with the tangy yogurt which gives way to a little sweetness, then to a splash of lemon flavor not unlike a regular store bought flavored yogurt, then finally to wave of Kool-Aid Lemonade flavor.  The final lemonade flavor is a little weird in that it stands quite independently from the other flavors.  It is a pushy reminder that here there be Kool-Aid.  Unlike Alice and Deb the chemistry between the two main ingredients never quite comes together.  But again, it’s not terrible.

Also, I was fresh out of fruit and lamb at the time of this writing, so I only tried the yogurt by itself. Even though the idea of lamb and Kool-Aid coming together at last boggles the mind.  I may have to revisit that.

Until then, look for my crowd-funded film adaptation of the book entitled Eat, Pray, Kool-Aid, coming soon to a theater near you.

Whipped Lemon Butter

I have to admit, this is one of the recipes in the book that gave me pause when I first saw leafed through it.  I get the punches and sauces and freezes and all that.  But Whipped Lemon Butter?

Having said that, I think this is a gloriously retro concept.  It is the perfect example of the weird, artificial, convenience recipes found in the corporate cookbooks from the 50s to the 70s that I absolutely adore.  Why use a real lemon with all that squeezing and…squeezing, when you could just scoop out a few spoonfuls of Kool-Aid?  I mean who even knows where to buy lemons?  And I’m not even going to mention what housewives had to deal with during the Great Lemon Shortage of the early 1970s.  (The produce lines stretched for miles.)

Lemon butter is literally lemon and butter!  Which makes this recipe even better.  You’re not really saving any time or work at all.  It’s just swapping one easily obtained ingredient for the next easily obtained ingredient.  (Easily obtained in the seventies anyway. More on that in a second.)  It’s just fantastic.  I picture this being made in the Monsanto Kitchen of the Future.

Now, in modern times, this recipe is more inconvenient than it appears.  I could not find sugar-sweetened Lemonade anywhere!  Every grocery store I went to had a bottom row full of sugar-sweetened canisters in every flavor imaginable.  Except Lemonade.  Where the Kool-Aid should have been, there were at least three or four other brands of lemonade. Country Time.  Crystal Light.  4C.  No Kool-Aid.  From what I can tell, Kool-Aid still makes a sugar-sweetened Lemonade.  They just aren’t sending it to any stores near me.  Stupid stores near me.

Luckily, I found some online.  For a little more than I would normally spent on yellow sugar powder.  But still.  I have it.

The recipe calls for applying this concoction to fruit-nut bread, waffles, biscuits, or muffins.  Sadly, I was fresh out of all of those things.  I just can’t keep fruit-nut bread in the house.  So, I went with white toast.  The most basic of canvases.   Also, I was a little suspicious that those items were thrown in to distract from the actual Lemon Butter.  Maybe it wasn’t so good.

Guys, I didn’t think I’d have to type this sentence, but this was…kinda good.  Seriously.  It tastes like a very bright, lemony marmalade.  I know!  I am as surprised as you are.  The butter on its own still has some grit from powder that didn’t dissolve completely, but when applied to toast, the grit gets lost in the rest of the crumbs.

You could 100% get away with putting this out at a breakfast thing.  In fact, someone do that and get back to me.  I’ll bet people ask about it.  In a good way.

Who knew?  Kool-Aid and butter.

 

Fruit-Flavored Ice Cubes

Today we make our first foray into the Kids’ Creations section of the book, but we keep things simple with the aptly named Fruit-Flavored Ice Cubes.  The current sugar-sweetened Kool-Aid canisters have directions for a more concentrated preparation of this recipe called Super Fruity Kool Kubes.  Much better name.  Replacing c’s with k’s is always an improvement.  But for now, we stick to the book.

I opted for the unsweetened envelope variation, using one teaspoon from a Kool-Aid envelope which is weird as an envelope contains just a tad more than a teaspoon.  Seems unnecessarily wasteful.

I went with classic Lemonade Kool-Aid, but then went anachronistically off book and also used Pink Lemonade, which as we all know, was not available in 1976.  Technically, this is the Confetti Ice Cubes recipe because I made cubes in more than one flavor.  I didn’t count the Confetti Ice Cubes in my total recipe count for obvious reasons.

I added my delightfully pink and yellow ice cubes to some Sprite.  The recipe recommends soda, juice, or milk (intriguing but gross), but I think you want to stick to clear beverages with these ice cubes.  You don’t want to obscure their candy colors.  What would be the point in that?

These were pretty ok in my Sprite.  The lemonade flavors blended decently, if subtly, with the soda.  I think the concentration of the Super Fruity Kool Kubes preparation might work better.

The color of my beverage ultimately ended up being a weird, pale pink.  I think I chose the wrong Kool-Aid.  I should’ve gone for something darker.

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s versatile.  You could freeze up some vibrant cubes for just about any color palette in whatever theme party you might be throwing.  Kool-Aid Comes of Age is nothing if not a guide geared towards entertaining after all.

Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade Cubes would pretty great at your next Smurf-themed party.  Don’t act like you’re not going to throw one, there are like eight more Smurf sequels coming.

Honey Lemonade

Picture the scene.

You and your special lady are snuggled up in some deep burnt orange shag carpeting.  The fire in your wood-paneled, burnt-orange-accented den is crackling away.  You run your fingers through her feathered hair.  So feathery.  She playfully traces the edge of your burnt orange collar.  So wide.

You stare into each other’s eyes and clink your mugs together, then sip from the piping hot, freshly made Honey Lemonade.  It’s tart.  It’s sweet.  It’s sensual.  So sensual.

Awwwww yeah.

And scene.

Today we take an entry from the Some Like It Hot beverage section of Kool-Aid Comes of Age.  Honey Lemonade is a warmed up treatment of a Kool-Aid Lemonade packet dressed up with a cinnamon stick and some cloves.  Half of the usual cup of sugar is replaced with honey for an extra flavor layer.

This drink is sweet to be sure.  Very sweet.  Since starting this project, anytime I make straight up Kool-Aid, I always dial down the sugar content by at least half.  At least.  But I’m following these recipes to the letter, so I’ll try not to mention the sweetness issue too often.

I have to admit this is not a bad beverage.  The spices toned down the tartness of the Lemonade a bit and give the whole thing a very wintery feel.  I’ve never had hot Kool-Aid before.  It’s very exciting.  It feels naughty.  So naughty.

I also followed the recipe’s option of serving it chilled, and it was still pretty good.  Refreshing and wintery.  Like a spicy snowman.  What?  I dunno.