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Springtime is Porch Time for

Sipping and Sampling

story by Becky Junkin  •  photography by Cheryl F. Rinehart  •  staging by Becky Junkin


When the weather begins to warm up, I plump up the porch sofa, chair, and swing cushions; and on the porch is where you will find me—in the mornings, on the back porch with a cup of coffee and a snack, and at night, on the screened side porch with lemonade or French 75 and another snack. My porch-sitting, one of my favorite pastimes, all started when I was a little girl. Every night I would go over to my neighbor’s house, and we would sit on her porch with hand fans and watch the cars go by. At that time, South Martin Luther King, Jr. Street was a major thoroughfare; and the traffic and trucks would go by all day and night. It was a lazy way of passing the time and visiting with the neighbors that walked by; and in between, I would run catch lightning bugs in a Mason jar with my friends and cousins.


Just as three generations before them did, my children, who grew up around the corner from where my grandmother, my mother, and I grew up, also spent their summer nights catching lightning bugs while I sat on the porch visiting with people on their nightly strolls. I now live in the country, so there are no neighbors walking by; but my grandchildren still catch and release the lightning bugs. However, now they use plastic containers rather than the old Mason jars. Unfortunately, my grandchildren don’t live here; but when they come to visit, we treasure family pastimes on the porches and lightning-bug adventures. I only hope that, as they grow up, the warm spring nights will bring back fond memories of the porch, the lightning bugs, the swings, and their grandparents.



These are a few liquid refreshments that you can offer your guests while you swing or rock on the front porch. This recipe would be perfect for afternoon or night. I have made this for years, and it is always a favorite. Kay Jinkins reminded me of it. I originally found the recipe in Southern Sideboards, Jackson’s Junior League cookbook. I serve this from a clear pitcher to which I have added mint and lemons.


Hot Weather Punch / Ice Tea Cooler


8 tea bags or 3 large, family-size tea bags

3 quarts boiling water

¾ cup sugar

1 can (12 ounces) frozen lemonade, thawed

1 bottle (32 ounces) ginger ale


Steep tea bags in water for 10 minutes. Remove tea bags and mix tea with sugar and lemonade. Chill. Just before serving, add the ginger ale. Serves 15



This recipe comes from my daughter-in-law’s family, and they serve it at all of their family functions.


Peach Ice Tea


3 cans (11.5 ounces each) peach nectar

2 quarts brewed tea

1 cup sugar

¼ cup fresh lemon juice


Stir all of the ingredients; chill until ready to serve.



This recipe for lemonade is a general one to which you can add more lemon or more simple syrup to taste.


Basic Simple Syrup Lemonade


Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water


Combine sugar and water in saucepan. Stir over medium heat about 1 minute to dissolve sugar. Store syrup in refrigerator indefinitely. Makes 1½ cups syrup.




1½ cups lemon juice

Simple syrup (add ½ cup at a time to desired sweetness)

7 cups water


Mix together in a pitcher and adjust lemon juice and syrup to taste. Chill.



If you have Simple Syrup left you can use it to make my favorite drink. This is perfect to sip while rocking on the porch and visiting with friends. The drink can be served in a champagne flute with a twist of lemon rind or in a martini glass with a slice of cucumber. The original recipe calls for brandy rather than gin but I prefer the gin.


French 75


½ ounce lemon juice (fresh if possible)

½ ounce simple syrup

1 ounce gin

3 ounces champagne

Twist of lemon rind or slice of cucumber


Add first three ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake well and strain into your glass. Add champagne to glass, and add a sliver of lemon rind or cucumber to the drink. Serve and enjoy.



If you have lemonade and tea, you must have a little something to nibble on. These first three recipes come from the family of my daughter-in-law, Stacey. Her entire family are fabulous cooks, and anything they make is delicious!


Ranger Cookies


2 cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups oatmeal uncooked

2 cups Rice Krispies cereal

1 cup coconut

1 cup pecans

1 cup dried cranberries


Sift together flour, salt, soda, and baking powder. Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in vanilla and add sifted dry ingredients (flour, salt, soda, and baking powder). Fold in oatmeal, Rice Krispies, coconut, pecans and dried cranberries. Drop by tablespoons on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until nicely browned. Cool on a cake rack.



Sand Tarts


1 cup butter

5 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

1½ cups chopped pecans

Additional powdered sugar for baked cookies


Cream butter and sugar. Work flour, vanilla, and nuts into the creamed mixture. Roll into small balls. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Roll in powdered sugar several times.



Melinda de la Vergne gave me this recipe from the 1992 Annual Southern Living Recipes book. These cookies take a little effort but they really are cute for a summer porch party. I always try to look for an easy way to do something so in this instance you can use the package of sugar cookie mix but add the red food coloring to the liquid before you add it to the mix. That way you can skip the cookie making part. These cookies are not difficult and are fun to do.


Watermelon Cookies


1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup shortening

¾ cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

Red paste food coloring

Mini chocolate chips


1½ cups sifted powdered sugar

2 tablespoons water

Green paste food coloring


Beat butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl at medium speed with an electric mixer. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Stir in egg, milk, and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Add a small amount of red food coloring to color dough as desired, beating until blended. Shape dough into a ball; cover and chill at least 3 hours. Divide dough in half; store one portion in refrigerator. Roll remaining portion to ¼-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough with a 3-inch round cookie cutter; cut circle in half. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press several chocolate mini-morsels in each cookie. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes. Do NOT let the cookies brown. Cool on wire racks. Frosting: Combine powdered sugar and water, mixing until smooth. Add a small amount of green food coloring. Frost cooled cookies, and place on wax paper until frosting is firm. Yield 3 dozen cookies.



If you are in a hurry and want to whip up some cookies quickly, these are just for you. Kay Jinkins gave me this recipe from Betty Crocker—you use a cake mix so minimum measuring,


Quick and Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies


1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist yellow cake mix

½ cup butter or margarine, softened

1-2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

½ cup chopped nuts

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


In a large bowl, beat cake mix, butter, 1 tablespoon milk, vanilla, and egg with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth or mix with spoon. Mix in additional 1 tablespoon milk if dough is too dry. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Drop dough by slightly less than a tablespoon 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake cookies 10-12 minutes or until the edges are set. Centers will be soft, and cookies will be very light in color. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Store covered.



When I was a young child, my grandmother would have bridge parties. She always used her favorite recipes for the different times of day. The night group would get one glass of sherry and cheese wafers. She would roll the wafers in what I guess was paprika and put a pecan on top. Every time, I would sneak into the kitchen, snatch one, take a big bite, and then throw it out because it was hot and not a cookie. You would think that in all the years I did this I would figure out I didn’t like them; but oh, no, every single time I tried, hoping for a cookie. Some people never learn. I don’t have my grandmother’s recipe, unfortunately; but this is a quick version of hers. Carol Smith gave me this recipe several years ago; and I fix these wafers when we have company, a party, or just the kids coming in. You can always sprinkle these with paprika and add a pecan if you like.


Cheese Wafers


2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (grated)

2 cups Rice Krispies

½ teaspoon salt

¼ to 1 teaspoon red pepper

2 sticks butter


Melt cheese in microwave. Add flour, salt, butter, and pepper. Add Rice Krispies, carefully mixing with hands. Form dough into balls, place on an ungreased cookie sheet (I use parchment paper.), and flatten with a fork. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 18-20 minutes.



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