Feeding Andrew 2017

by Donald Wilson on March 19, 2011


Getting ready for summer with Limoncello

I am sure the human race would have died out long ago if our forebears hadn’t discovered the pleasures of fermentation.   There’s no doubt that Andrew has been saved by the clink of a glass on more than one occasion.   Still, alcohol can be a very complicated subject in relationship to raising children.  It really is a major case of “do as I say and not as I do.”   If you are a drinking parent, you understand how important it is to figure out how to sip a glass of wine out of one side of your mouth, all the while telling your child not to drink out of the other.

Andrew had only been with me a couple of months when he asked me about my glass of wine.  I had already given it some thought and I had decided to take the approach my parents had with us, which was to let us take a sip if we ever asked about it. My intention was to demystify it in the hope that it would defuse the rebel urge to be sneaky about it later on.  So when Andrew asked me what it tasted like, I offered him a sip.

He took the glass, held it to the light and gazed at it like a connoisseur standing at the counter of a Napa Valley winery.  I think I was both mortified and awestruck by the power of example as I watched him lift the glass to his nose taking in a long and protracted sniff and then nimbly work his way through his first sip, swish, and swallow.

He looked up and said, “It’s like a bunch of flavors are bursting all around my mouth.  I like it.”

This was not the reaction I had been expecting or wanted.

A few days later he asked for another sip and I allowed him to try it again.  I had poured a much drier and less fruit forward glass of wine and could see it didn’t go down as well as the first.  He said he liked it, but this time I could tell byt the raised eyebrows and srcunching and pursing of lips that he wasn’t convinced that this was a kid friendly drink after all.  Gratefully, I didn’t hear any more about it for a while.

That was until a few months later when we were sitting around a table dining with friends.  As the wine was being served, Andrew perked up with a renewed interest in fermented grape juice.

“Can I have some wine?” he inquired quite boldly.

“Of course, you can’t have any wine.” I sternly answered him.

“Why not?  You ALWAYS let me have wine at home!” He emphatically and loudly stated from across the room where the kids had been seated.

All adult eyes suddenly fell on me and I could almost hear the sirens coming to take me away.  I did my best to explain the situation and silently vowed to do a better job at explaining table manners and jail sentences to Andrew after dinner.

Luckily, a few sips was enough to calm his curiosity and even though Andrew hasn’t shown any interest in sipping wine over the last few years, I continue to allow him a small indulgence if he asks.  However, as I approach the high school years, I know that an occasional sip at the dinner table will be no match for the offers of full communion that will surely come his way.

It’s a funny and seemingly arbitrary line we draw in the sand with our children.  Andrew will be of legal age in only seven years.  From one night to the next, I will go from “just say no” to “cheers.”   Yet, my ability or inability to help Andrew stay dry through the next seven years can have life long consequences and that is something that can drive me to drink!

I came up with a plan.  It’s simple enough.  I just decided to tell him the truth.  All of it.   You see, as a country, we have spent a great deal of time telling kids how bad drugs and alcohol are.   We explain about DUI’s, overdoses, fatal crashes, eternal damnation, and being grounded until college.  Of course, I too, have spent much time explaining the evils of alhohol and it’s abuse.  What we fail to explain is that it makes us feel good, tastes good, and that intoxication is fun.  For some reason, we have decided to let our children’s friends tell them for us.   Guess who comes across as being the most reliable source of information?   Here’s a hint:  Many kids try drugs and alcohol and since the likelihood that they will survive this teenage curiosity without reaping the dire rewards we promised is pretty high, it won’t be us.

Basically, my strategy is a “Do you want the good news or the bad news?” approach.  The talk I have had with Andrew on many occasions goes something like this: “The good news is alcohol makes you feel good and can be fun.  Even better, the law says you get to drink it at twenty-one, and I’ll buy you your first drink on your 21st birthday (he’s still just young enough to think that’s cool).  The bad news is that alcohol is a poison and it takes an adult body and liver to process it properly.   Your body and brain (specifically the frontal lobes) are still growing and really vulnerable to being damaged by alcohol and drugs.  They will continue to develop until you’re about 21 years old.  Kids do drink and some of them don’t see the negative effects right away, but too many do and I just want to make sure you have every advantage for a successful life.”

And, of course, “You will be grounded until college!”

My hope is that I build credibility by being truthful.  When he’s at that party a few years from now and everybody is drinking and having fun, I want my voice to be forefront in his underdeveloped frontal lobe reminding him that I told him it would be this way and to hold off for his own good.   It may not be enough and I’ll cross that bridge if, and when, we get there, but for now I’m keeping the lines of communication open, sticking with the truth, and hoping it’s enough.

If not, I can always fall back on plan B: grounding until graduation



Southern California Winter Bounty

Southern California Winter Bounty

For most of the United States January through March means frigid temperatures and a vague hope that spring will actually come again.  But in Southern California it’s Lemon and Orange season and that means only one thing for me: Limoncello.  Each year at this time, I raid my best friend’s mother’s Meyer lemon tree and start zesting away.  Limoncello is Italian liquor that is quite easy to make at home and will beat out any commercial brand you might buy.  The labor is minimal, but it does take a bit of patience waiting for it to be drinkable.   However, when you are sitting around your deck this summer, sipping your ice cold homemade limoncello with friends, you’ll be grateful you spent one dark winter nights zesting a big bowl of lemons.   Once you try it with lemons, you can branch out and make other kinds of citrus liquors using the same recipe.  This year I also made mandarin and blood orange liquors.  My recipe is based on the one found at Limoncelloquest.com.  If you catch the limoncello bug, that is the place to go for a full primer on everything you wanted to know about limoncello, but were afraid to ask!


Ready for bootlegging!

Step 1

To get started you will need:

17 organic or pesticide free lemons

2 bottles of Everclear 151 proof

A micro plane for zesting

A large glass jar for storing limoncello

Clean lemons very well by scrubbing them and drying them with a clean cloth

Using the micro plane, zest all the lemons taking care to not get any of the pith.  Do this over foil or wax paper.  Pour the zest into your glass jar.

Next, using a strainer and a coffee filter, strain the Everclear into the jar.   Tighten the lid and stick it in a closet for a month.    So far, you will have spent no more than 30 minutes.

Step 2

You will need:

3 1/2 cups filtered water

5 cups sugar

Bring the water and sugar to a boil and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Set aside until completely cooled.   Pour the sugar mixture into your flavored alcohol and set the jar aside for another week or two.

Strain your liquor into bottles using a funnel and a coffee filter.  This last step will ensure that you get a beautiful product that’s not cloudy.

Limoncello can be drunk at this point, but it mellows with age.  I am now making it a year ahead as I find it is perfect after one year of aging.  However, for your first batch, I would double it, so you can have lemoncello this summer and save the rest for the following year.






Gary April 15, 2011 at 7:41 pm

I remember how good and refreshing your limoncello was last summer in Park City. I also remember that it is very strong. Remember a little moderation or you will feel like I did the next day.

Jill Packham April 29, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Bellisima! I love your limoncello! Limoncello and a warm summer night with friends and laughter – can’t wait! We will have much to celebrate this year!

Previous post:

Next post: