When Life Gives You Lemons…

… make Limoncello! Or as I like to call it: Italian Moonshine

My Uncle has been making this stuff for a few years, now. I began my first batch on Black Friday 2014, hoping it would be done in time for New Years. And it was perfect! I don’t know what it was, but its the best I’ve ever had. Even Uncle Eddie left me the best voicemail telling me how fantastic my batch of his limoncello was. “I hope you wrote down everything you did, because I’d use that recipe.” That’s a huge compliment coming from my uncle. One that made me smile ear to ear!

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(makes a small batch)

  • 750ml bottle grain alcohol (like Everclear)
  • 1/3 cup water, plus more
  • 1.4 lbs sugar
  • 10 lemon peels
  • large glass jar
  • plastic wrap or wax paper
  • food scale (optional, but helpful)

Shallowly  peel the lemons, ensuring not to include the pith (the white part of the peel). Place the peels into your large jar. Pour the grain alcohol a top the lemon peels. (Save the alcohol bottle!) Cover the jar opening with wax paper or plastic wrap, and seal the lid. Place this jar in a dark spot for at least 3 weeks. Turn the jar back and forth each day to mix the oils of the lemon peel into the grain alcohol.

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After 3 to 4 weeks of the peel steeping, strain the peels into a large pot. While the peels are draining, refill the saved grain alcohol bottle with water. Empty the water into another pot, in addition to 1/3 cup water. Weigh out 1.4 lbs of sugar, and add to the pot of plain water. Continually stirring, bring the pot with the sugar to a rolling boil, ensuring the sugar melts, creating a syrup. Let it slow bowl for 5 minutes. Remove this pot from the heat and allow it to cool completely.

Discard the drained lemon peels. Once the syrup has cooled, stir it into the lemon-infused grain alcohol. Transfer back to the large jar. Reseal with plastic wrap or wax paper and seal the lid. Place back into dark space for an additional 1 to 4 weeks, turning the jar back and forth each day.

WP_007506After the final week, transfer the completed limoncello into your empty grain alcohol and another* bottle. Place in the freezer to chill and enjoy.

(You can add more water before bottling if the grain alcohol is too strong for your liking).

*You can find empty bottles at Bed Bath and Beyond like these, in a variety of fluid capacities. Or recycle an old wine bottle, like I do. actually, empty Torani and DaVinci syrup bottles are useful to.

Salud! 

But then you’re left with a bunch of peeled lemons… so now would be a good time to make lemonade… And we did! Brett juiced all the lemons, while I was peeling the zests. We followed this recipe with a change of sweetener, and using 3 cups of water, for the most perfect lemonade! One thing I love about homemade lemonade is the pulp that sneakily makes its way through the juicer. Plus, you can make it as tart or as sweet as you like. After the finished lemonade was refrigerated, we brewed a gallon of tea… Home-brewed tea and fresh squeezed lemonade??? Best Arnold Palmers!

Our New Deacons

It was all about the Barry’s and berries, today.

It began with a stop at 7-Eleven to grab coffee and a light breakfast. I spiked my coffee with my sugar free blueberry Torani, before heading to Barry’s. Look, His and Hers blueberry breakfast! Barry loved blueberry poptarts so I liked that I was able to enjoy my version of poptarts with him with the blueberry Special K Crisps.

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Today was a day of celebration for our diocese! I am so happy to say that our friend, Barry, was ordained, along with 8 others, as a Deacon. It has been a 5 year journey for him and his family. Its such as admirable dedication he has made to our community. I know that he has gone away for for retreats every month for the past 5 years, working for this.

Barry is not only a family friend, but also the owner of the company my dad works for. While dad manded the fort at the business, Barry, my Barry, and I represented the family at the ordination. We arrived at St. Margaret of Scotland Church, and after giving hugs and kisses to familiar faces, we took our seats.

The ceremony lasted about an hour and a half. He began with his family, garbed normally. Throughout the mass, we witnessed Barry promise to the Church and be sworn in as a Deacon.

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We watched the Bishop lay his hands on each candidate, swear them in, and provide them with their own Book of Gospels.

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We watched the priest of each candidates home parish, along with the candidates wives, help to dawn them with their stoles and dalmatics. It was a lovely ceremony!

WP_003654I ran into my parish’s priest, who is also the Chancellor of the Diocese, and was one of the selected few to provide Communion to the congregation. I also saw my old grade school principal, my parish’s deacon and wife. My favorite person that I ran into, today, was Dora. When I saw her, I immediately began to tear up. I hadn’t seen Dora in about 5 years. Dora was one of my grandmother’s best friends, one of the “Club Girls” as they were called. Every Thursday, the girls would get together with their bags of pennies and play Pokeno and Uno, and eat jello and pie, and various fruits and sweets. I loved catching up with her!

WP_003655After the mass, their was a gathering at the Church’s school, but Deacon Barry’s family invited us to attend the luncheon they were having at a local Italian restaurant. The reservations were not until 2pm, and Barry and I decided to kill an hour at the farmer’s market. This place is a dangerous place for foodies! The Amish section is full of sweets, pastries, meats, sausage, and all around deliciousness! Before leaving, I needed to introduce Barry to one of the oddest, savory, and sweet desserts I have ever had. There is a Mexican ice cream shop in the market that sells Cheese ice cream. You read that right. CHEESE ice cream! It smooth and creamy, a little chunky from the cheese, like cottage cheese curds, and so buttery in your mouth! We both just wanted a bite since we were heading out to lunch, but its a when-in-Rome kind of thing.

We arrived at Cucina di Napoli and were greeted by Deacon Barry and his family. We sat down to a table full of apps: Bruschetta, mussels in white wine, sauteed broccoli and spinach, mozzarella sticks and fried calamari, and chopped antipasto salad. Dad met us there after he locked up the shop, and we enjoyed socializing with everyone. I was pretty pleased with my eating! I stayed clear of the bread and butter, ate lots of lettuce and tomatoes, enjoyed some mussels, and broccoli, and avoided the fried foods. Thats a lie. I ate 1 fried calamari to apease my dad. Barry and I were both dragging, despite our coffee earlier in the day.

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Barry and I parted ways until he picked me up to attend a BBQ. Barry has kept in contact with one of his old teachers from high school who throws a pretty bitchin pool party every year. It was such a nice time! Barry and I both had a few drinks and I was so pleased with my eating! I chose wisely. I knew there was going to hot dogs, and not my 94% fat free ones. Rather than eating it plain or on a roll, I grabbed a leaf of romaine, spread it with a little black bean hummus, and topped it with corn salad. It was delicious!

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??????????????I stayed clear of the ridiculously gooey, chocolate chunk brownies, but I did take a bite if the PBJ mini cupcakes. I was so proud of myself that I filled up romaine and didn’t let the temptations get to me. I met some of Barry’s friends from high school and when I met Kevin, I saw a side of Barry I had never seen before! A complete and total BROMANCE!

Towards the end of the night, as we were heading out, the homemade moonshine and karaoke came out. One of the moonshines was peach and the other was apple. I’ve had homemade shine before, and it was rough, but the apple smelled like an apple pie! Both were delicious.

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The night ended with Barry and I falling asleep to a little Twilight Zone!