Food Network Summer Soirée: Strawberry Lemonade #SummerSoiree

I’ve had this idea mulling around in my head for a while now. Of talking about making lemonade out of your lemons. Because I had a lemon, recently. A lemon car, that is. My first new car–a 2014 Nissan Versa Note. A car that I was thrilled to be able to purchase, even if it was on the economy end of the spectrum. I even wrote a post about the process of buying your first new car. But just as I was going to publish it, my new car stalled. I held that post in Drafts, holding out hope that it was a fluke. A week later, it stalled again. And thus began my 7-month ordeal.

Strawberry Lemonade #SummerSoiree - poet in the pantry

7 months–approximately 6 weeks of which I did not have use of my vehicle because it was in the shop for a repeated stalling problem. They tried the idle relearn, they replaced the throttle chamber, heck, the Nissan engineers even built a black box device to hook up to my car to monitor it in an attempt to figure out what exactly was wrong. Of course, it behaved when the black box was attached. Mostly. But after 6 attempts at correcting the matter, my patience wore off and I contacted Nissan North America’s headquarters to let them know that I’d be filing with my state’s Better Business Bureau under what’s known as the Lemon Law. The letter I sent them was 6 pages long, detailing the chronology of this craptacular vehicle’s problems. I documented every conversation throughout and submitted copies of those notes, as well. I was prepared for a fight.

2 business days later, I received a phone call from their corporate offices. The woman I spoke with got right to the point, explaining what paperwork she needed from me to proceed with the buy-back. There was no need to convince her–it was clear this vehicle qualified for the program and they wanted to get right to work on correcting the matter.

Strawberry Lemonade #SummerSoiree - poet in the pantry

No more than 2 weeks passed between her first phone call and receiving the buy-back check. Yes, I had to gather paperwork–information from my financing company on how much the payoff was, what the physical address was for overnighted payments, a limited power of attorney granting the 3rd party company performing the actual buy-back the right to receive the title for my lemon, documents proving what I paid not only for the car, but for the extended warranty and any other additional fees. I lost about a grand in mileage charges–something I should have disputed, but I was so stunned by how smoothly the process was going that I went along with it. Other than that, the buy-back was pretty darn painless. It worked just the way it should have.

I could have chosen a replacement vehicle instead, but in the process of dealing with my crap car, I had the opportunity to drive a different model–a Nissan Sentra–and fell in love with it. The fuel mileage was nearly identical–something that irritated me, as I had chosen the Versa Note not only for the price, but also for its touted fuel mileage–figures it never actually achieved. The loaner Sentra was a top of the line model, though. The only option missing was leather seats–an oversight I was okay with, considering the power moonroof, backup camera (which I lambasted before experiencing it for myself…and quickly grew fond of it, against my will), premium Bose sound system, upgraded stereo… you get the picture. By the time we got around to dealing with my lemon car, I knew I would not step foot into the same model. I had my heart set on the Sentra.

Strawberry Lemonade #SummerSoiree - poet in the pantry

As fortune would have it, the exact same car that I drove for 10 days in November happened to be up for sale as a used vehicle during my 2-week waiting period. 1 week into the wait, I went to the dealership to ask them what kind of a deal they could make me on it. I figured I’d be giving up the incentive interest rate by buying used instead of new, but this car had only 3200 miles on it–700 of which I put on it myself. I knew it already. I wanted this car.

And got it, I did. Even though my lemon wasn’t squared away yet. And at an almost identical interest rate as my new vehicle purchase. The dealership–which had been phenomenal throughout the whole process, most especially Laura in the Service Department–knew my frustration and did what they could to ease it. I drove home in the Sentra that day. My Versa sat on their lot until the time of the inspection for finalizing the buy-back. No money down–they’d take the check when it came. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. And just like that, my lemons became lemonade.

Strawberry Lemonade #SummerSoiree - poet in the pantry

What did I learn in the process? Patience truly is a virtue. Because of my patience despite my frustration, I know I got a lot further than I could have. I treated others as I wanted to be treated, and they appreciated it. I can’t recall how many times Laura thanked me for not yelling at her. Not yelling at her? How horrible that that would be what she expected! But it wasn’t her fault, and really, I didn’t care whose fault it was. I just wanted my car fixed. And in the end, I wanted it gone. And with diligence and plenty of patience, exactly that happened. And I ended up in an even better car than I could have afforded originally. It worked out pretty spectacularly in the end.

Sorta like this Strawberry Lemonade. Sweetened with pure maple syrup, it’s subtle and tangy, with a nice surprise hidden in its blush. Perfect as-is for the whole family (or with a little vodka enhancement for the adults), it’ll turn any occasion into a truly special one. Totally worth the wait in preparation. Whip up a pitcher and it’ll keep for up to 2 days, so you’ll have plenty of time to plan your festivities. Or just sip it on the back porch at the end of a hot summer’s day. That’s what I did. Bliss.

Strawberry Lemonade #SummerSoiree - poet in the pantry

Strawberry Lemonade
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Beverage
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces strawberries, washed, hulled, and cut in half
  • 2 Tablespoons maple sugar
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 5 medium lemons)
  • 5 cups water
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the strawberries with the maple sugar and let macerate on the counter for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. Squish the berries with a potato masher and then place a fine-mesh sieve over another mixing bowl and strain the mush to extract as much strawberry juice as possible. (You should get around 1 cup of juice, though it may take 20 minutes or so to get it all out.)
  3. While the strawberries are straining, juice the lemons until you have 1 cup of lemon juice.
  4. Pour into your pitcher and add the water and maple syrup. Stir to combine.
  5. Toss the strawberry pulp (or save it for muffins or quick breads) and add the strawberry juice to the pitcher. Stir.
  6. Serve over ice.
  7. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to 2 days.

This week I am once again participating in Food Network’s Summer Soirée, a celebration of all the deliciousness of summer! The theme for this week was Refreshing Summer Sips (clearly evident by my Strawberry Lemonade, right?) and there are some wonderful beverages compiled this week for your enjoyment. If you try any of these, I’d love to hear what you think of them! Cheers!

Feed Me Phoebe: Healthy Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie with Cacao Nibs
Dishin & Dishes: Summertime Basil Lemonade
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Frozen Mango Lemonade Mocktail
Dishing With Divya: Thandai
Virtually Homemade: Strawberry Soda with Lime
The Lemon Bowl: Banana Licuado (Mexican Smoothie)
Weelicious: Mermaid Deep Sea Punch
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Mango Lassi
Cooking With Elise: Black Cherry Sweet Tea
Devour: 5 Booze-Free Picnic Sips
Taste With The Eyes: Roasted Barley-Corn Tea
Domesticate Me: Vegan “Orange Julius” Smoothie
Daily*Dishin: Sweet Balsamic Spritzers
FN Dish: Refreshing Summer Drinks for the Whole Family

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