By SHANNON WATKINS
I grew up in the kind of home where the ancient family Bible was parked on the coffee table in the living room, the family silver was regularly polished until even the monogram’s grooves shone, and the den was sectioned off as a dank male cave filled with a shotgun shell reloader, a eternal pouch of Sir Walter Raleigh tobacco, and the only color TV in the house.
Downstairs, I learned how to pick out a rod and reel. Upstairs, I learned how to cook and make ladylike conversation. Heavily assisting on these last two fronts was the monthly gospel of middle-class Dixie refinement and graciousness: Southern Living magazine.
I had a tomboyish streak in my childhood and even as an adult I’ll never be known for my dainty, girlish ways, but I have enough manners to say please and thank you, and I do enjoy cooking, especially for others. A good part of that is owed to the flutter around Southern Living’s appearance each month, and to their annual Christmas hardcover book, which made domestic hearts beat faster long before anyone in my neighborhood ever heard of Martha Stewart.
My grandfather, a lone Southern male stranded in a family of six variously-aged women, would emerge from the den or the garden and make sniffy pronouncements about ‘a bunch of clucking hens’ when we bent our heads over the magazine, but his masculine self-preservation fell by the wayside when it was time to enjoy the results of a Southern Living recipe.
My grandmother and mother and aunt kept up with it and swapped copies back and forth long after the latter two married and moved out on their own. I had a gift subscription for a while and though I’m not quite as excited by it as before, I admit the first thing I do when I get my hands on a copy is flip to the recipes.
Last summer, my mom, in the midst of putting together a party menu, made something from it that we especially loved and enjoyed: Lime Fizz Soda.
Is there anything more quintessentially Southern than entertaining on the back porch in warm weather with a glass full of something cold and crisp and sweet in your hand? Well, aside from yard dogs, pickup trucks, and bush hogs, but still.
Despite our clamoring, Mom wasn’t in the mood to make this twice; part of it left the inside of the fridge unpleasantly sticky. Still, it’s worth the trouble, and we’re hitting the kind of weather that will make this, and your porch if you choose to keep a pitcher of it around, popular for at least two seasons.
The other good thing is, it’s great for a party at church, or for kids or abstainers, but with a judicious addition of booze it’s good cocktail party fare, too.
Lime Fizz Soda
First, you’ll need the Lime Simple Syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lime zest
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
Cook the sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat; stir in the lime zest and lime juice. Cover and chill 1 hour. (This would be the bit that inexplicably got the fridge sticky.)
Then you’re ready to make the soda:
¾ to 1 cup of Lime Simple Syrup
½ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
3 ½ cups chilled club soda
Fill a large pitcher with crushed ice. Pour Lime Simple Syrup and lime juice over it. Add club soda and stir to mix. Serve immediately, preferably on a spacious, airy porch with a view of gentle rolling hills, grand magnolia trees, and at least one male family member repairing a car.