Old Fashioned Lemon Limoncello Granita

Please join me on a trip to the past filled with cold lemonade on hot summer days sipped while lazily swinging on porch benches… Ok stop right there. That is not reality, more like a film adaptation.  We only need to go back five years – when this little word gem first started — and to my last apartment (and, by the by, when cookbooks entered my reading repertoire). Look close and you will see 2005 me lying on the couch during another sleepless night watching movie after movie checked out from the local library. Any movie I could get my hands on would do, including Holes by Louis Sachar.

According to the ‘making of’ segment Sachar started writing the story in reaction to and as therapy for the lasting heat of his first Texas summer. I concur. Many are offended by this, these are the people who love sunbathing in the heat, summer vacation in the heat, swimming pools, heat.  But for me no other sentence sets me bristling faster than an ad proclaiming “summer doesn’t have to end yet!” A month ago fields were overgrown with green grass, splashes of red and patches of blue. Now I stare at brittle brown weeds and an occasional scraggly sunflower bush while my hair is swept back in a perpetual ponytail by an AC on max. It’s not like there’s a more pleasant alternative view either. Turn to the heat waves visibly rising on the black gravel roads or the glittering concrete that blindingly reflects the summer sun or go ahead look up into the blue sky – sure that’s pretty, but misleading because those fluffy white clouds do not contain a breeze.

Yes, I definitely concur, I am also not a fan of summer, but I have my own sort of therapy – eating ice cream or frozen yogurt, popsicles, sno cones, ices. Anything frozen and sweet. They are eaten inside where it is cooler and free from mosquitoes not out on stifling porches. Have I even mentioned the mosquitoes, yet?

In much the same way I dread summer, I dread apartments. I like my privacy, my yard, my choice of colored curtains. This is not something written into the lease of a house or duplex – it’s all about what the landlords take care of and what you take care of. Soon my purple curtains will turn into a rebellious statement hidden behind blinds. I’m about to move back. Not to the same place – oh no, oh no — but to the same neighborhood and away from the neighborhood I have loved for the past four years.

In my house lemonade went with popcorn and popcorn of course went with movies. Once I got older the lemonade turned into margaritas. I’m thinking of this recipe as the margarita of lemonade. Oooh, or the lemon drop of lemonade. Whatever it may be it is most definitely perfect summer eating.

If we travel even further into the past, we will see me first hearing about limoncello — lemon flavored, vodka or gin tasting liquour. It was stored in the freezer and looked so sumptuously refreshing, I knew I had to have it. Zoom your way to the present and you are seeing the first recipe made with it. When I decided to make granita for this weeks post, I knew limoncello was going in before I had found any kind of recipe. There are a lot for granita out there and a lot include limoncello. For the most part they are fairly similar. This one came from vegnews.com and was the only one I found calling for lemon zest. I cut the sugar in the recipe a bit and I love the tang of it. But, I’ve included the full amount anyway. My other note is alcohol doesn’t freeze, if you had too much, this will not freeze correctly and you will be drinking your granita. Though, I can avow it is tasty this way too.

Lemon Limoncello Granita

recipe by Kathy Hunt and posted on vegnews.com

1 ¼ cup sugar
1 ¾ cup water, divided
zest from 4 lemons
1 ¾ cup lemon juice (more than 4 lemons worth)
½ cup limoncello

In a saucepan over medium heat simmer 1 cup of the water and all of the sugar until sugar is dissolved and becoming syrupy. Remove from heat. Zest and juice lemons. Add lemon juice, zest, ¾ cup remaining water and limoncello to syrup. Stir to combine. Pour into a shallow metal baking dish. Put in freezer until frozen – from morning to night or night to morning. Now, this recipe and several others, but not all, have you stir it periodically during the first two hours of freezing.  I don’t understand the reason for this and since my point is simplicity, if you don’t want to I give you permission to ignore this little bit of the contract.

When frozen use a fork to scrape the top into little icy crystals. Scoop into a bowl and eat.

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