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Cheap and Interesting Summer Beverages

Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip -- June, 2001, Vol. 5 No. 2

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is almost here--and the week of 90 degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures we had in early May certainly set my mind to cold liquids! But I sure am not going to pay $2.50 for a frozen cappuccino or $3.50 for a smoothie, and nor do I want to fill up my body with all sorts of sugar and chemicals.

Here are a few easy, inexpensive drink ideas. You may have to plan a few hours ahead, but if you keep a few of these on hand, you'll be ready for any heat wave:

Flavored Iced Coffee: When you make a pot of hot coffee, make some extra and pour it off into a jar for the refrigerator (either leave out the very bottom or run it through a strainer). Though it will get some oil on top, coffee will actually keep a very long time in the fridge--and nothing feels better on a really hot day. As you brew the coffee, add some cinnamon, cocoa powder, dried orange peel, or mint.

Sun Tea: Put one or two teabags in a half-gallon juice jar, fill with water, cover and let it sit for an hour on a sunny windowsill, then chill. (Alternately, steep the teabags right in the refrigerator and let it sit overnight.) You can be very creative here, for instance homemade chai: use one bag of Bengal Spice or other cinnamon-cardamom flavored herbal tea, and one bag of ordinary black tea.

Herbal Tea Concentrate: combine loose herbs in a tea strainer and make a cup. Add honey if desired, let it sit for at least an hour, and then add it to cold water. Some good combinations:
* Ginger root (chopped), one or two petals of star anise (NOT an entire cluster!), and some peppermint.
* Hibiscus and orange peel
* Cinnamon sticks (broken in pieces) and ginger
* Chamomile with almond extract

Milk with molasses

Egg Creams (New York favorite that has neither egg or cream):
chocolate milk with seltzer added.

Banana Smoothies: milk, juice, a banana, ice, and flavoring combined in the blender.

Home-Made Juice Pops: Strictly speaking, not a drink, so think of it as an extra bonus. For a couple of bucks, you can find a nifty juice-pop maker that will pay for itself many times over. The one I have has six slots in which I pour juice, and then six bases with sticks that insert into the liquid. Stick it in the freezer and presto, we have six juice pops, for pennies, and with no added sugar or chemicals. My kids love 'em!

And then there's always seltzer or ice water

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