Ponderosa Lemon Update

I headed back to my local bar with Lemon #3, the smallest of all of them. RC squeezed it for me on their fancypants old-timey juicer, and I got 1.5 Jack Rose cocktails out of it (had to supplement the juice with that of another lemon for the second). A Jack Rose is comprised of apple jack (apple brandy), lemon juice, and grenadine. I’ve only ever gotten one at Quarter, and I imagine it to be pretty gross elsewhere, because the grenadine would make it cloyingly sweet. However, they make theirs in house, and this difference turns what sounds like a nasty drink into something lighter – refreshing and delightful, even.

The first half of Lemon #4 has been juiced and zested – the zest went into the freezer, and most of the juice joined some rice wine vinegar, olive oil, dijon, and various other ingredients in a vinaigrette. I had some on a baby arugula salad with orange peppers, hard boiled eggs, blanched broccoli, blanched green beans, and the last of Lemon #1’s zest. I dumped a good amount into a spelt pasta salad for lunch a few days ago, and there was still some that made it into the fridge in the dijon jar.

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carrot cake with lemon cream cheese frostingcarrot cake with lemon cream cheese frosting

The last of Lemon #1’s juice made it into a pint of rosewater lemonade (subtle, but delicious). I got a report back from D that the fate of Lemon #2 was a glut of old fashioned lemon curd… he used an old lady voice when he described making it and spreading it on toast, but apparently it was wonderful.

A wedge of the second half of Lemon #4 was used on a turkey sandwich: mendocino mustard (spicy honey mustard), arugula, sprouts, red bell pepper, cracked pepper turkey, and lemon juice. It was a quickly thrown together sandwich that was lacking something. At the very least it really could have used some tomato. The remainder of Lemon #4 was turned into lemonade (the juice) and lemon cream cheese frosting (the zest), as I recall. Man, I’m losing track, I’ll have to reference my photos. I did use up most of the lemon dijon dressing drizzled onto sandwiches and such.

Stay tuned for how I fell in love with Lemon #5, and to learn how I manage to honor the other 7 (eek!)! I’m going to have to get cracking.

Joy By Post

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A few days ago, I received a most amazing package in the mail.

I’ve received some pretty wonderful packages in my life, largely because my Pop lived nearly 2000 miles away from me when I was growing up. On most holidays, and sometimes without occasion, he would send music, artwork, articles, art supplies, and all manner of other things. I also have dear friends who occasionally send artwork.

Somehow (big surprise here) the packages that stand out in my mind are the ones that involve food. When my grandparents lived in California and had an orchard, my grandma would send me a box of fuyu persimmons every year for my birthday. I loved those boxes of fruit! One of my best friends told me recently that every time she sees persimmons she thinks of those boxes from my grandma. Eventually my grandparents moved to Washington. I cried a little when I ate the last persimmon from the last package. The orchard I credit with much of my food appreciation is now a housing development. Sad ending.

Another exquisite package was one from my friend GP, who I had told just a day or two before that I’d never had Kimbo espresso. I went into work and there was a small package that had been overnighted from him: one vacuum pack of Kimbo and an adorable single serving moka pot. I seriously cherished that thing, and that espresso too! This one has a sad ending, too: a sketchy girl was at my house with GP once, and she was apparently pretty jealous of our friendship – she stole my beloved espresso percolator after learning that he had given it to me. I was so, so bummed (and angry). Wow, I didn’t realize until now that my amazing consumable packages were so bittersweet.

Back to the package I just received (there’s still hope for a happy ending!). My friend KCC recently married into a family with a ponderosa lemon tree. Her husband’s grandfather, now 93, planted this tree sixty years ago. It bears enormous fruit, each one the size of three good sized lemons. KCC sent me twelve of these lemony dinosaur eggs late last week!!

When I opened the box, not long before midnight last Thursday, I’m pretty sure I squealed and jumped around a little. All of a sudden the room was perfumed with a lemony citron smell, and I was overwhelmed with the need to bake. I asked the internet what to make, and the internet responded: lemon olive oil cake. So, I washed, dried, and zested one of the monsters (so much zest!), and wrestled with it until I’d extracted all of the juice. Lemon #1 dwarfed my lowly manual orange juicer, and I had to keep stopping to dump the juice through a strainer into a separate container (these are fertile – so many seeds!). I ended up with just under a cup of lemon juice from a single lemon. Whoa.

I made mini cupcakes (fail – they ended up too dry), cupcakes (pretty good, probably won’t make them again), and then used some of the remaining juice to wash a few of them down with lemonade. By this time it was 1:50 (on a weeknight), and I was wide awake. Somehow I justified walking down the street to my local bar with Lemon #2*, which was gifted to D, the owner (I had mentioned them to him before, when they were en route).

Since then I’ve baked breaded chicken which I served doused with lemon juice (Lemon #1), I’ve baked lemon pepper popovers (zest from Lemon #1), and I’ll likely use the rest of the zest in a lemon cream cheese frosting (I made carrot cupcakes on Sunday). I have a bit less than a quarter cup of juice from Lemon #1.

I have ten more lemons! I desperately want to respect these and use every last bit, so I’ve been fishing around for recipes, from friends and online. Please, if you have good ones share or link to them in a comment. Of particular interest to me would be savory recipes… I’m going to kill myself with the baked goods. Only recipes that use a lot of lemon juice or zest, by the way, I’m not f*cking around with only a tablespoon of juice. Remember, I have to get through the equivalent of 30 lemons in the next week or so. Help? Thanks.

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It has just occurred to me that I am the same age as Grandpa C was when he planted his lemon tree. Eek! I need to find a place to start planting fruit trees.

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*As of last night, D was still scheming on how to approach Lemon #2. I will update as information becomes available.

Liar

[121/365] fiend

I lied. I bought a new knife, and it wasn’t crafted by the descendant of a samurai sword maker. Well, not that I know of, at least. Still, this Shun 8″ chef’s knife was handmade in Japan, which is an improvement over most of my blades.

I should also come clean on something that we all know by now: I’m a terrible blogger. I have made brisket not one but two times, and I slow cooked lamb on another occasion. These are major accomplishments for me, as I tend toward vegetarian food at home. I took pictures… hopefully I can will myself to post them. Ha. Right now it’s just too nice out to think about the internet.

I hope Spring has arrived wherever you are, or something equally lovely.

Hunger Strike / Liberal Elitist Succotash

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It’s Women’s History Month! It’s always some month or other, I know, but I noticed this in a newsletter and was reminded that since the 2008 presidential campaign, a friend and I had been meaning to watch a movie about the women’s suffrage movement, Iron Jawed Angels. I’m interested in history, but I happen to have a really miserable memory, so generally historical information is met by me as if I was hearing it for the first time, even if I’ve been privy to it before. My friend R was rightly shocked when I suggested we stage a fancy tea party (complete with finger sandwiches and cakes) for a viewing. “They were called Iron Jawed Angels because they were on hunger strike.” Oops. Guess I should have figured that one out.

Looking for a more humble meal, I settled upon making something with the can of black-eyed peas that I’d recently purchased. I’ve only had black-eyed peas a few times – I’ve never been a huge fan of legumes – so I wasn’t immediately sure what to make with them. I knew I just wanted to spoon something over rice, so I settled on a concoction resembling a hybrid of succotash (peas instead of lima beans) and warm salad. A bit of a kitchen sink approach, and spicy, but filling and satisfying.

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the first incarnation of ingredients. a number were added (including the liberal elitist baby arugula!), one was dropped.

Liberal Elitist Succotash*
(quantities are approximated… it isn’t fussy… but this made about four meal sized servings)

  • a bit of bacon, chopped
  • 1 big handful mini organic smoky pork sausages, cut in thirds
  • 1 can black eyed peas
  • 1 small can sweet corn
  • 1 small butternut squash, chopped
  • 1 very large shallot, chopped
  • 2 fingerling potatoes, chopped
  • 1 chioggia beet, chopped
  • 1 big handful baby carrots, halved or thirded
  • 2 or 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 a large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 a medium orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 handful sugar snap peas, chopped
  • 2 watermelon radishes, halved and sliced
  • 4 small handfuls baby arugula, torn or chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 T butter
  • pepper, freshly ground
  • salt
  • a few dashes Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 t dijon mustard
  • juice of 1 meyer lemon
  • a few big splashes Eastern North Carolina BBQ Sauce
  • 2 cups brown rice, steamed (will yield more)

As you can tell, I just sort of threw everything together based on what I had in the fridge. This is more a list of ingredients than a recipe, but if you must know (ha), my basic method was as follows: Roast the squash, potatoes, carrots, beet, and garlic with salt & pepper. Meanwhile, sautee the bacon and sausages until the bacon fat has melted away and the sausages start to brown. Add the butter (I didn’t use much bacon), shallots, celery, and Worcestershire and stir occasionally until beginning to caramelize. Add the black eyed peas and corn and allow the flavors to blend for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix the vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard in another bowl. Add the radishes, bell peppers, snap peas, and liquid to the pan and cook for about another minute, adding salt and pepper (and more Carolina Sauce) to taste. Spoon over steamed brown rice with a handful of arugula on each serving, for the diner to stir in/wilt at their leisure. Serve with Mozart Lemonade (tequila & lemonade on rocks).

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The food turned out to be good, but the film didn’t fare as well. Maybe I’m just a fan of period pieces, but I found it really distracting that modern music was used while we were watching something that took place 90 years ago. They marched in Washington to Lauren Hill?! No. I also could have done without the fictional love interest, and though the fictional Senator’s wife worked well with the story, I wished they would have stuck with what happened. As R put it, what happened was drama enough. The biggest problem other than the music, for me, was that someone makes reference to the women being called Iron Jawed Angels before they go on hunger strike in the movie. Bad editing? That seems like a pretty glaring mistake (it had us questioning the meaning of the title).

Poorly executed though the film was, I’m glad I watched it. What an inspiring story about standing up for what is right in the world. I woke up this morning feeling gratitude that a group of women 90 years ago gave up one of my favorite things about life – food – so that I could vote (as it happens, one of my other very favorite things). Thanks, ladies.

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I’d like to give a little shout out to a couple of ladies who are fighting the good fight in current matters of civil rights: Alysia Melnick, Public Policy Counsel at the Maine Civil Liberties Union, and Jasmine Beach-Ferrara (who I had the pleasure of working along side on the Obama campaign) of The Progressive Project. Both of these ladies do so much to (among other things) advance the rights of LGBT citizens, I am at once consistently inspired by them, and reminded that I’m lazier than I ought to be.

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*R, sorry for offending your Southern sensibilities by even using succotash in the name of this dish.

Takeout Bento / Slice Harvester

20080513 :: bento diary :: takeout +

Here we have another bento from the vaults, but one of my favorites. This bento contains (clockwise from right):

  • Leftover buffalo chicken
  • Cold pizza, cut to size: black olive, green pepper, and tomato (from Ideal Cafe, Jamaica Plain, Boston)
  • Golden beet sakura blossoms, red bell pepper and carrot ume blossoms
  • Fiddlehead ferns, steamed
  • Blue cheese dressing for the chicken, golden beet sakura blossoms

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My friend just told me about his friend’s mission to try a slice of pizza at every pizza joint in Manhattan. He’s documenting this process on his blog, Slice Harvester. I believe my response was, “Whoa.” Probably followed by, “Holy f**k!” …and then some comment about how fat his friend was going to get. According to my friend, the deal is that he started at the top of the island, and he’s zig-zagging back and forth across as he makes his way down, literally trying out every pizza place. If I understand correctly, he hits a few in a night with somebody else, so they share the slices and he doesn’t have to eat all of every slice. Still, how can you not turn into a balloon of cheap cheese? I hope he has a gym membership.

I’m fascinated by this project and just started reading his blog tonight. I can’t wait for him to finish so that he can make a definitive call on the best place(s) to try. Check it out! http://sliceharvester.blogspot.com

My new mission (significantly less ambitious): I want to be the pizza eating helper on this most righteous mission sometime. Ryan, please make this happen. I’ll cover the cost of his pizza… and maybe yours if you’re lucky.

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p.s. Are you as annoyed as I am that “za” is a legal Scrabble word?! Seriously, who says they’re going out for ‘za? I am vehemently opposed to this supposed slang.

Maiden Voyage

cape gooseberries
paper lantern
[088/365] the other white meat (it's so hard to say goodbye)
my electrical hazard sunbeam has officially been retired, as much as it treated me well, and my mother before me. i have a new beefcake blender-beau.

I finally took my new blender for a spin last week. I made a whatever’s-in-the-fridge smoothie, and it was delicious. I’m not sure of actual measurements, but the approximations below should yield a pretty good snack or breakfast.
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