When I worked in Joplin, I was lucky to be near great places to eat. Being close to McAlister’s Deli also meant something great to drink.

Just about every workday, I was the first customer at 10:30 when employees unlocked the doors. It’s hard to beat their iced tea. Half sweet and half unsweetened was my choice, and with no ice, it was always freshly made and a little warm. Perfection.

When I was growing up, iced tea was a dinner table staple. Super sweet, it was there all year, summer and winter.

Mom always brought a couple of cups of water to a gentle boil, added 5 or 6 tea bags, removed it from the heat, covered and steeped for 15 minutes or so. She was always sure to put sugar in the bottom of the pitcher, add the warm brew and stir to dissolve the sugar before adding more water.

Lipton tea bags were always on the shelf until Luzianne promised to be the best. It was given a chance, but Lipton won out in the end. We never in our wildest dreams could have guessed back then that one day you could buy a gallon of tea at the store.

Sun tea used to be so popular we all had sun tea jars that had to be glass, never plastic. Eight tea bags per gallon and kept in the sun, this method takes some time but produces tasty tea — worth bringing back those jars.

Some say heat brings out bitter flavors in the tea, making cold brew sometimes preferred. Fill a pitcher with water and add one tea bag for every 8 ounces of water, more for stronger tea. Cover and refrigerate green tea six to eight hours and black tea eight to 12 hours.

One family-size tea bag equals three regular bags, and the regular ones come in many flavor options or you can flavor them yourself. Lemon is by far the most traditional extra, but mint and cucumber are also popular. Boil some watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, pineapple or blueberries in a little water, strain and mix into your tea for fruity sweetness.

Two tips for making your tea for Iced Tea Day on Thursday: Don’t squeeze the bags when draining to avoid bitterness, and simple syrup of 1 cup each of sugar and water boiled, then cooled is best for sweet tea.

Useless trivia: The new Guinness world record for stacked M&Ms is five, shattering the previous record of four. Can you beat it?

Today’s first recipe, from myrecipes.com, is so refreshing. It would also be pretty as a layered trifle in a clear bowl.

Adding some lemon zest to the cream cheese mixture of the second recipe gives you more of the dynamic duo of lemon and blueberry. This recipe is from emilybites.com.

Have a wonderful week, and happy eating.

Lemon blueberry dessert

15 lemon cookies, coarsely crumbled

1 can blueberry pie filling

1 (8-ounce) container whipped topping, thawed

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (6-ounce) can frozen lemonade, thawed

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cookie crumbs each into 8 parfait glasses. Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons pie filling on each. Fold condensed milk into topping; fold in lemonade.

Spoon 2 tablespoons over pie filling; repeat. Top with crushed cookies. Chill 4 hours. Yields 8 servings.

Blueberry cheesecake rolls

3 ounces soft cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1 tube crescent rolls

2/3 cup fresh blueberries

Cream together first 3 ingredients. Spread 1 tablespoon each over 8 individual dough triangles. Put 2 rows of berries on widest end of each roll. Roll up, surrounding berries.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. Yields 8 servings.

Cheryle Finley is a food columnist for The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.

Trending Video

Cheryle Finley is a food columnist for The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.