Originally posted October 2006
Every Tuesday afternoon after knitting class, Anna and I stop at the
Cyber Stop to get a Krispy Kreme donut and a drink. (The Cyber Stop is
a full-service gas station featuring FREE wireless?!? I’m not sure WHO
it is that has time to surf the web while they’re filling up.)
Anna always gets a soda and I get my all time favorite convenience-store drink:Lipton sweet ice-tea. I love that stuff.! Totally addicted. When I drink it, I’m always thrown back to southern Arkansas where the folks really know how to make it. Sometimes I think of Father Tim and Cynthia from my favorite books: The Mitford Series. (Those books are just like old friends to me and I’ve read the entire
series no less than three times.) Jan Karon has also written the Mitford Kitchen Reader that includes Father Tim’s Mother’s Tea recipe.
(*see recipe & Kitchen Reader excerpt below) Mmm. MMM!
Funny that I love sweet tea so much. I grew up drinking the instant
kind and it never had sugar mixed in! I always drank it without batting
an eye until I met my southern-boy husband. The first time he ever
tasted the instant stuff he nearly puked. But of course, being the
genteel, southern boy that he is, he was always the picture of
graciousness and kindness and never complained to his
hostess future-mother-in-law. However, after we got married, he sweetly informed me of a better way. And of course, it was!
When I grew up, I rejected the bitter, instant tea— but I didn’t reject everything
that my mother cooked. She made a lot of things well and I still use
some of those recipes in my cooking today. Her salmon patty recipe is
awesome and I still love her crock pot roast. Today as I was drinking
the tea, I thought of other things that I grew up with but later
For instance, I grew up in a church that went crazy over the Bill
Gothard movement. At the time, I was growing spiritually like a weed. I
was very zealous in my love for the Lord (as I hope that I still am)
and embraced the movement completely because the people at my church
whom I admired the most embraced it. As I grew and especially after I
met my husband, I began to see many things within that movement that
weren’t completely biblical and even harmful to true, healthy spiritual
growth. I look back at those years and shake my head at some of the
things that I thought and believed. Twenty years later, I’ve thrown out
a lot of those beliefs just as I’ve pitched the instant iced-tea. No good. Yuck.
But what I don’t throw out is the love that I had for the Lord or the
zeal that I had to follow Him with my whole heart. And (hopefully) I
don’t make fun of the people I encounter who are at that same sort of
spot in their own spiritual walk. I may try to introduce the “better
recipes,” but I don’t belittle these folks who are trying to live out
their love for the Lord in the best way that they know at the moment.
Hopefully, I’ll be like my sweet husband when he was sitting at my
mother’s kitchen table. Kind and gracious.
Many of us were raised in a certain tradition or with certain ideologies. Eventually though, we grow up, go to college or change churches and get exposed to opposing
thoughts and ideas. This can be and often is a good thing. As our thinking
is challenged, we start to dig into the Scriptures for ourselves and
develop independent, autonomous ideas. Hopefully, though, we don’t
throw the baby out with the bath water. And of course, we never reject
the one thing that should forever be our constant: God’s Word. Just
some random thoughts I had today over a glass of iced-tea. Cheers.
*“Man alive! What’s this?”
“It’s my new iced tea recipe,” said his wife. “Do you like it?”
He raised his glass in a salute. “It’s the best I ever tasted. I didn’t
know you could do this.”
“I didn’t, either. I never knew how to make good iced tea. So, with our
parish party coming up, I asked the Lord to give me the perfect
“That’s the spirit!”
“Do you honestly like it?”
“I never tasted better!” he exclaimed, stealing no thunder from his
mother, whose tea represented the southern idea—heavy on sugar, and blasted with the juice of fresh lemons. “I woke up yesterday morning and was bursting with all these new ideas
about tea. It was very exciting.”
“Hmm,” he said, gulping draughts of the cold, fruity liquid. “Tropical.
He swigged it down to the last drop. “Two thumbs up,” he said. “I’m not sure everybody would understand where the recipe came from.
She shrugged. “If He gave William Blake those drawings, why couldn’t He give me a simple tea recipe?”
“Good point. What’s in it?”
“I can’t tell you.”
“You can’t tell me?”
“No, darling, I’ve decided to do something very southern—which is to
possess at least one secret recipe.” She looked pleased with herself.
“But you can tell me.”
“Not on your life!”
“Why not? I’m your husband!”
“Some well-intentioned parishioner would yank it out of you just like
that.” She snapped her fingers.
“Yes. And then I’d be in the same boat with poor Esther, whose
once-secret orange Marmalade cake recipe is circulating through Mitford like a virus.”
“If that’s the way you feel,” he said, slightly miffed.
*A New Song, Chapter nine
FATHER TIM’S MOTHER’S TEA
2 large lemons
3 Lipton family-size teabags, tags removed
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
Squeeze the lemons into a small bowl, chill the juice, and reserve
the skins. Place the teabags and reserved lemon hulls into a large
pottery or glass pitcher and our in 2 cups of cold water. Bring a
kettle with 4 cups water to a rolling boil. Pour the boiling water over
the teabags and cover the pitcher with a small plate. Steep for 10
minutes, then remove the teabags and lemon skins. Add the sugar and
lemon juice and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add 3 more cups of
cold water. Serve over ice and garnished with a fresh lemon slice. Enjoy!