Still Life, With Cats

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Slow cooking

Since I know I missed a day this week, today you get two citrus recipes. First, in the morning I set up the dough for Lemon Buns. These are a yeasted dinner roll sort of affair, but with lemon zest in the dough, and also brushed with a mix of zest and butter both before and after the bake. I thought the recipe sounded intriguing, and these are the sort of thing that freeze well, so I made the full batch.

They’re baked in round pans, 10 per pan (and the assembly fits perfectly into a freezer bag, which is where the second pan went immediately after it was cooled).

They look pretty, all golden brown and brushed with bits of lemon zest, but aside from being a perfectly soft and lovely dinner roll, you would never guess (if you weren’t told) that there was lemon in them. So on the plus side, at least they’ll go with anything a normal dinner roll would, but on the downside, I admit I was hoping for at least a hint of that lemon.

We had them alongside Salmon with Dill Sauce and Lemon Risotto for dinner. Richard mixed up the dill sauce while I worked on the risotto, ladling hot broth into the pan and stirring and stirring and stirring until it was all fully cooked. I think I have made risotto before (?), but it is the sort of thing that, to me, always seems unnecessarily tedious.

The salmon is simply seasoned with a little salt and pepper and then cooked. We’d originally planned to have this with a side of broccoli, as a nod to health, but upon taking the bag of broccoli from the fridge to prepare it, I discovered that it was squishy, and not in a good way, so….another plate of all the tones of beige it is!

Verdict – the fish was cooked perfectly (phew!), and everything was absolutely delicious, although I felt like overall it was a bit on the heavy side (and I found myself really wishing that we’d had the broccoli to help lighten it up).

Citrus used: 2 lemon

Total citrus used so far: 1 mandarin orange, 10 tangelos, 8 lemons

Making a thing a day for Thingadailies.

Flavor, and the lack thereof

This morning for breakfast I made Lemon Poppy Seed Scones.

I’ve made scones oodles of time in the past, but I believe this is the first time I’ve ever put poppy seeds in them. Otherwise, they came together pretty much the same way as all the other scone recipes I’ve tried – you mix your butter into your dry ingredients (you could do this with your fingers, or a food processor), then stir in the wet ingredients only until just mixed, then form into a circle, cut into 8 pieces, separate slightly, and bake. Then you make a glaze (lemon juice plus powdered sugar) and drizzle that over the tops once they’re cooled.

My scones always look a bit slumped – I suspect I should chill the formed dough prior to baking it, except that I am usually in a hurry and don’t have time for that.

Anyway. I was rather disappointed by this recipe. The scones themselves have almost no flavor; the only flavor (such as it was) comes from the lemon glaze, which although lovely, is just not enough to make eating a tasteless breakfast pastry worth it.

Citrus used: 1 lemon

Total citrus used so far: 1 mandarin orange, 10 tangelos, 6 lemons

Making a thing a day for Thingadailies.

That would be a nope

Every year when take on this ‘use up all the citrus’ challenge, I wander through the internet looking for recipes. This year I stumbled upon the Sunkist website, which has a whole pile of recipes, and some of them looked pretty tasty, including this one. Orange flavored rice krispy treats? Sure, why not, that could be good.

Let me stop you right here, in case you also might be falling for the same trap.


Trust me. Really. Don’t.

They’re sticky and weird and yes, vaguely orange flavored but….no.

We both took a couple bites and then dumped the rest of the pan. Ah well.

Citrus used: 1 mandarin orange

Total citrus used so far: 1 mandarin orange, 10 tangelos, 5 lemons

Making a thing a day for Thingadailies.

Fungi for the win

Tonight’s dinner was originally going to be a version of orange chicken, except that we discovered that rice had never made its way onto the grocery list. So instead I made Lemon Cream Chicken instead, with some penne pasta.

This recipe is pretty straightforward. You coat the chicken is a mix of flour, salt, and pepper, then pan fry it in a tiny bit of butter until cooked. Then while the chicken rests, you reduce some chicken broth in the same pan, then stir in a whole pile of mushrooms, the juice of one lemon, and a little bit of cream. Finally, after the mushrooms are cooked, you stir in a slurry of flour with a little bit more cream, so that the sauce thickens up.

It’s not much to look at, obviously, but it’s actually pretty tasty. This would work just as well using milk instead of cream, I suspect, so I’ll likely do that next time, and I’d happily double the amount of mushrooms in the dish as well, or even a thinly sliced onion to add a little more depth of flavor. But overall, this was a win, and we’ll definitely be making this recipe again.

Citrus used: 1 lemon

Total citrus used so far: 10 tangelos, 5 lemons

Making a thing a day for Thingadailies.

Bet you never made your oatmeal like this

What better way to start the week then with a healthy breakfast? How about something where you cook some oats in orange juice and then bake it into a cake?

I saw the recipe for Orange Oat Breakfast Cake and was intrigued. You first cook the oats in the orange juice (which is…not the most delightful smell), then you stir together all the other ingredients and fold in the cooked oats. The recipe called for a 5 inch pan, which I don’t have, so instead I divided it between two of my four-inch springform pans, and that worked perfectly.

A small breakfast cake, dusted with powdered sugar and sitting on a plate.

Sometimes things like this can come across as very earnestly ‘healthy’, but this was actually pretty good. We split one of the little cakes for breakfast this morning and the second one will be breakfast tomorrow.

Along with the breakfast cake this morning, I also made Lemon Orzo Soup for dinner. This was originally planned for last night but time got away from us.

A bowl of creamy orzo lemon soup with carrot coins

I first made this soup back in 2019 (for Thingadailies), and it’s been in our winter rotation ever since. It’s fairly quick to make (I usually just beat the egg whites by hand to avoid dirtying yet another bowl), and we always add a couple carrots, peeled and sliced, to sneak in some extra veggies. And bonus, it makes enough for lunches for the next few days.

Citrus used: 2 tangelos and 1 lemon

Total citrus used so far: 12 tangelos, 5 lemons

Making a thing a day for Thingadailies.

Allll the orange

Hooray, it’s the weekend! That must mean it’s time for cake. Orange Pound Cake, to be exact.

Here is where I have to admit that pound cake is one of my favorite types of cake – there’s something about the dense crumb and the buttery mouth feel that makes me really happy (case in point – the Norwegian Sour Cream Cake recipe from King Arthur Baking Company is in regular rotation in my kitchen). So finding a recipe that combines delicious pound cake with the flavor of fresh orange (or in this case tangelo) sounded perfect.

Pound cakes get their name from the fact that they use roughly a pound each of all the main ingredients. I admit I winced a little when I saw it called for 5 eggs (egg prices being what they are right now) but oh, it was worth it, and not just because it used up half a dozen tangelos. The cake batter gets orange juice and zest. Then once it’s baked, you brush it with an orange glaze, and finally, once it’s completely cooled, you top it with an orange and powdered sugar icing. It sounds as if it might veer into too-sweet territory, but the tartness of the citrus tones everything down.

A bundt cake drizzled with orange frosting

As with any other pound cake, this thing weighs a ton, but it’s absolutely delicious. The orange flavor comes through just enough to brighten the palatte, without being overwhelming, probably because it gets the bulk of its flavor from fresh juice and zest instead of relying solely on extracts.

Citrus used: 6 tangelos

Total citrus used so far: 10 tangelos, 4 lemons

Making a thing a day for Thingadailies.

Not always about the sweet

It’s not all about the sweet stuff around here, even though I do love to bake things. Tonight I decided to go for something savory, so I made Lemon Chicken with Orzo.

This went together fairly quickly – you cut up the chicken, then dredge it in a mix of flour, salt, and pepper, then cook that in a skillet. Then you remove the cooked chicken, and in the same pan, add broth and orzo (note – I had to add in roughly an additional half cup of water, so you’ll want to monitor that) and let that simmer until it’s cooked.

The recipe called for the addition of spinach and grape tomatoes, but grape tomatoes and cooked spinach are Not Food, so instead I tossed in a whole pile of broccoli near the end of the cooking time.

The lemon juice gets stirred into the orzo just before it’s time to serve, which might sound a little odd, but actually adds a nice bite to what could otherwise be a fairly bland dish.

Plate of orzo with broccoli and chicken

It doesn’t look very exciting, I know, but trust me, it’s tasty.

We both gave this recipe two thumbs up (and luckily I made enough that there’ll be leftovers for dinner tomorrow).

Citrus used today: 2 lemons

Total citrus used so far: 4 tangelos, 4 lemons

Making a thing a day for Thingadailies.

A little sweet, a little tart

Today is February 2nd, also known as Candlemas across the pond, which means it was time for crepes. Do not ask me to explain why one eats crepes for this day, as I actually have no idea why, but crepes are easy to make so who am I to question.

I made these Crepes with Lemon & Sugar, as the recipe fulfills both the citrus challenge as well as the need for crepes, but any crepe recipe would work here. I do have a crepe pan, but crepes will work just fine in a regular frying pan, as long as you make sure it’s well greased so the crepes don’t stick. Letting the batter rest for a bit before actually cooking them is also key – this lets the flour fully hydrate.

Two folded crepes on a plate, topped with whipped cream and yellow sprinkles

For this recipe, you make the crepes, then top with equal parts sugar and lemon juice. I was a bit nervous that they’d still be too tart, but in fact they were almost a little too sweet (probably because Meyer lemons are not quite a tart as regular lemons like the recipe calls for). If I was to do this again, I’d reduce the amount of sugar added with the juice at the end. Regardless, these were pretty tasty.

Total citrus used so far: 4 tangelos, 2 lemons

Making a thing a day for Thingadailes.


Oh look, it’s February, which means it must be time for Thingadailies, or in this house, time for my annual month of ‘holy crap, how do we use up three full trees of citrus before they all go bad?’

So to kick off the month, I made Citrus Pecan Bread, which is a basic oil-based quick bread recipe, but with orange juice and nuts. For tonight, I used tangelos for the juice and chopped walnuts (because that’s what was in the freezer), but the general concept is the same.

This is not a new-to-me recipe – in face, I think we got this a couple years ago when we were doing a recipe subscription service, but we both liked it so much that it gets put into rotation at least a couple times each year when the citrus is ripe.

A loaf of quick bread

Can you tell where I accidentally jabbed my oven mitt-covered thumb into the loaf when pulling it out to check on it? Sigh.

Anyway, it’s super tasty and it used the juice and zest of 4 tangelos, which was the whole point.

Citrus Pecan Quick Bread

  • Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (plus the zest from the fruit)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 Farenheit. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan.

Combine all dry ingredients except pecans. Stir in orange juice, water, and oil until mixed (but do not overmix), then stir in the pecans.

Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Let rest in pan about 10 minutes before removing; cool completely before cutting.


Making a thing a day for Thingadailies.

All that glitters

Yesterday we had folks out demolishing concrete and digging big holes in the yard in order to replace our sewer line. This is one of those things that has been on our list to take care for quite a while, so….Merry Christmas to us (we decided it was our joint present, because Adulting), so while listening to the occasional jackhammering, and not being able to flush anything down the drain for a few hours was minorly annoying, it was worth it to finally get it done.

They came back this afternoon to fill in the holes, and at some point later this week they’ll come back again to replace the cement that they had to dig up, but hooray, at least it’s done.

In less expensive news, the Christmas ornaments for this year’s tree theme finally arrived, so this evening we took roughly 90 seconds to decorate.

Doesn’t that look festive and lovely?

I know you’re wondering what they are. Here’s a closer look – can you guess?

So it turns out you can get a bag of 50 sparkle ball cat toys for less than $10 if you poke around long enough on the internet, and the beauty of using sparkle balls is that they require no hooks for hanging – you can just tuck them into the branches, and when they are (cough) ‘liberated’, you can just gather them up and replace them as you walk by.

It took Guffaw a few minutes to figure out what was going on, but once he realized what they were he was extremely excited, and over the course of the evening he plucked three from the tree and then chased them all over the house until he wore themselves out.

I think this year’s decorating scheme can be considered a qualified success.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.