Candy. The stuff of children's dreams, something to hock your milk money for, a product that, according to your mother, can rot the teeth right out of your head if you don't brush your teeth before the taste even leaves your mouth, that will make a diabetic drop dead if they eat even a mint (that one probly came from my brother). They've made movies about the stuff, some holidays are becoming homages to it, and clothing is even made out of it - but in MY mind "candy panties" cease to be edible once they are removed from the box (not that I'VE ever owned any).
I grew up living maybe a mile from the quaint little bohemian town of Multnomah, a suburb in the SW part of Portland. Well, it was just a small town then, NOW it's considered "quaint & bohemian"....Portland is weird and full of aged hippies, and I think they've found a nice niche there. And although I found it interesting and somewhat entertaining - the gift and novelty shops, little cafe's and pub-ish establishments etc, it lacks the substance it had when I was a kid and it was still a real town.
There was a hardware store, a ladies clothing shop, a diner, a bar, a grocery store, a music shop, a hobby shop, and my two favorites, a Rexall Drug and Trapp's Bakery. Many a day I squandered my milk money on a maple bar on the way to school, all the while wishing I had enough to buy a "skate", which was a delightful thin crispy pastry covered with cinnamon sugar and bigger than your whole head. Which was saying a lot considering I looked like a bobble-head when I was little and I still can't wear hats even when they're men's X-Large. That bakery was like walking into heaven....I can still close my eyes and taste the maple icing on that doughnut with pure delight as my bones slowly disintegrate into a fine powder due to a lack of calcium in my growing years.
The Rexall Drug was a place of wonder too - like I wonder how they got so much crap into one dinky little store. I think it was a lot like those shops at the beach that have crappy little souvenirs made of seashells and nuts, and a few clothing items, drugstore stuff (altho I can honestly say I do not recall any health and beauty aids whatsoever), and of course, the mother lode of candy in every color, shape and form. They still had the little glass bins, each one filled with penny candies - pixy stix, root beer barrels, wax lips and soda bottles, that black and white taffy, and Bazooka Joe - I could stand in front of that display for eons trying to figure out the best way to stretch a dime.
And I think I had money more often than my siblings, because I was always on the lookout for money, and was not embarrassed to dig for it - my route to school included every vending machine, phone booth, paper box and even bubble gum machine in town to check for jams, forgotten change and even stuck money...if some idiot was dumb enough to put a dime in a quarter or nickel slot and not know how to get it out, I was all over it. They give me crap about it to this day, but it's just jealousy....and I never once got the dread "lugey" or razor blade they were always warning me about...jerks.
My sister's favorite was lemon drops - not the lemonheads in the little boxes, but the big kind with sugar on em that would remove the skin from the roof of your mouth like sandpaper taking the finish off mom's chippendale end table. I thought they were OK, but preferred sour candy - I now have something called "Geographic Tongue", and firmly believe it was due to a steady diet of Jolly Ranchers, Sweetarts and Pixy Stix in my formative years. I have to be careful now, because citric acid will make it hurt like the dickens in short order, but I still love it.
So lemon drops....my sister introduced me to a fine recipe a few years ago, for the more sophisticated and adult Lemon Drop - one with vodka that if you drink enough of, will take you back to your childhood...the part where you're a drool factory with no bladder control. So don't drink that many....if you're alone and the vodka in the bottle gets below the top of the label, you should stop. Trust me. I find it hilarious that this recipe came from a Catholic High School fund-raising cookbook - but then you know all about us Catholics and alcohol....Jesus performed miracles involving it, so it's perfectly acceptable in moderate amounts. So remember that label tip....
Lemon Drop Mix
3/4 C. sugar
1/2 C. water
Boil for a minute or so, or until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool.
1 C. fresh squeezed lemon juice* (FRESH. unless you LIKE the idea of purgatory)
1/3 C. fresh squeezed orange juice** (I have been known to use frozen)
Mix together with cooled syrup, keep refrigerated. It will mold eventually, so try to use it within a couple weeks....once I had to throw out over a quart of it and I still tear up thinking about it.
To make a Lemon Drop:
1. Rub the rim of a martini glass (or a quart jar, whatev) with a wedge of lemon
2. Dip in sugar (superfine if you have it)
3. In a cocktail shaker (I use a 4 cup measuring cup because I am a hick and don't have a martini shaker), pour 2 parts mixer with 1 part Absolut Citron Vodka - don't expect it to taste the same or even good if you aren't using this vodka...it DEFINITELY makes a difference
4. Add crushed ice and shake or stir until very cold
5. Strain or pour into glass with ice - ice is a choice, and I like to water down my drinks.
6. Enjoy until you are pleasantly buzzed and have become the most witty person in the room. Unless you were anyway, then just drink until someone informs you that you just ate a plastic grape from the fruit bowl on the sideboard.
*5 lbs. of lemons will make 4 batches, so it will take about 1-1/4 lb. per batch
**1 good sized orange will probably give you 2/3 C. juice
Enjoy, and just in time for New Year's Eve - may you be healthy, happy and moderately sober on the first day of 2011!