In his 1983 stand-up show “Delirious,” Eddie Murphy talks about singers he admires, and one of those singers was Elvis Presley.
“Really, I give credit where credit is due,” Murphy said. When Presley was young, “he was vicious. He sang so good, they let him do movies. He couldn’t act. Let him sing all his dialogue.”
Murphy then says, “Elvis, want some lemonade?” And his voice lowers, and in a decent imitation of the King, he replies, “Lemonade. That cool, refreshing drink.”
And for years, every time — every single time — we’ve made lemonade in our house, I sing that same line, in my best Elvis voice: “Lemonade. That cool, refreshing drink.”
Our kids love the drink. If they have friends over, we’ll polish off a pitcher or two of the stuff. But even before we had children, Abby and I had our favorite variety of lemonade, and we discovered it at a spicy food convention in Austin.
I was writing about food for another publication, and I was invited to attend the Texas Fiery Foods show at, if I remember correctly, Palmer Auditorium in Austin. This would have been in 1998 or ’99. There were hundreds of vendors hawking all sorts of hot and spicy foods, such as salsas, sauces, condiments, spices and more. As a member of the media, I was asked to help judge a salsa contest, and we tasted one concoction that was so hot it shut down our table for several minutes to allow us time to recover. There were dishes of cream cheese with crackers and small cartons of milk to help combat the heat, and I consumed lots of each after this particular salsa.
One judge commented, “It feels like a nail is being driven through my tongue.” It was brutally hot.
After giving my taste buds a chance to cool off, we continued visiting vendor booths and sampling products. Since my credential identified me as a food writer, we were often given things to take home and try in our kitchen and (hopefully) write nice things about. That’s how we discovered FoFo’s Lemonade. It was a powdered lemonade mix that was available in three varieties: plain, pink and vanilla, and it was the vanilla-flavored that we loved. At home, we used up our sample pretty quickly, and ordered more several times from FoFo’s, which was based in New Mexico. But then we figured out that we could make our own vanilla lemonade by adding a dash of vanilla extract to a pitcher of either homemade lemonade or pitcher made from a mix that’s available at the grocery store.
Alas, it appears that both FoFo’s and the Texas Fiery Foods Show no longer exist. A food column in the Austin Chronicle, by longtime Austin food writer Virginia B. Wood, talked about the show in 2000, and then it was rebranded as the Zesty Foods Show and hung around for a couple of more years. As for FoFo’s, a search in the Corporations and Business Services page on the website of the New Mexico Secretary of State shows that FoFo’s Caribbean was registered as a business on Oct. 12, 1984, by Flaurence Voltaire and Russell Snow. Its business license was revoked on June 22, 2001.
Marie Flaurance (the spelling on the business page was incorrect, it appears) Fofo Voltaire-Snow died on Jan. 18, 2021. She was born May 30, 1948 in Haiti, and grew up there and in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She graduated from Boston University and began her career in the hospitality industry in New York. In 1983, she and her husband Russell Snow moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and she started two businesses: Fofo’s Caribbean Restaurant and Caribbean Temptations Spices and Lemonades.
For our recipes this month, we’ve upped the ante from plain lemonade or the simple-but-delicious vanilla lemonade. We’ve got a couple of drink recipes that are family friendly and one intended for grown-ups. And for a complete afternoon snack, you can pair the lemonade with Lemon-Coconut Macaroons or Buttered Pecan Cookies, or both.
For years, ever since we remodeled the front porch on our house into a space that’s good for sitting and drinking and waving at passersby, we’ve been planning to host a lemonade-and-cookies day for our neighborhood. This may be the year that we put that plan into practice. I’ve also invited some folks from the local school district to enjoy an afternoon of lemonade on the porch so they, too, can watch school buses drive too fast down our street. Nobody’s taken me up on that invitation just yet.
For the simple syrup:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup sage leaves
- 1/4 cup lemon balm or mint leaves
For the lemonade:
- Mint or sage leaves
- 2 ounces vodka
- Sparkling mineral water, such as Topo Chico
To make the simple syrup, place the sugar, water, sage leaves and lemon balm or mint in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar melts. Stir, cover and let steep for an hour. Remove from heat and strain into a clean jar or pitcher, and set aside to cool.
To make the drink: Fill a shaker with ice, then add 2 ounces of simple syrup, a few mint or sage leaves and the vodka. Shake well, and strain into an ice-filled glass. Top with sparkling mineral water. Makes 1 drink.
- 2-3 blackberries
- 3 mint leaves, torn
- Lemonade (from your favorite recipe, or from a store-bought mix)
In a glass, muddle the blackberries and mint. Fill the glass with ice and then pour in the lemonade. Stir and serve. Makes 1 drink.
- 6 cups water, divided
- 1/2 cup dried hibiscus flowers (sometimes called Jamaica flowers)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, divided
- 1 cup lemon juice
In a large saucepan, add 4 cups water, flowers, honey and 1/4 cup mint leaves. Stir and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for an hour.
Strain the tea into a pitcher. Add the remaining mint leaves and 2 cups water. Stir and adjust seasonings as desired. Add more honey, lemon or mint as needed. Pour over ice and serve. Makes about 8-10 servings.
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Heat oven to 350.
Sift together flour, powdered sugar and salt. Add the coconut, butter, vanilla and lemon zest. Stir to combine.
In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture until the dry ingredients are absorbed.
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of batter on the sheet an inch or so apart and bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Let the cookies cool slightly before removing from the pan. Makes about 15 cookies.
- 1 cup pecan pieces
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine the butter and brown sugar and beat on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Add the flour, pecans and vanilla; beat until combined. Your dough should be stiff.
Divide the dough in half, then roll each portion of cookie dough into a log that’s about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Just before baking, heat the oven to 350. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap it. Place the dough on a cutting board. Slice into rounds about a 1/4-inch thick. Place the rounds on the baking sheet about an inch apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving. Makes about 24 cookies.