Morning sun

This morning I got up, poured myself some coffee, and immediately got to work making lemon scones.

I have made scones a bazillion times in the past, because they’re one of those stupid-easy (as long as you keep the butter cold and don’t overwork the dough) breakfast foods that everyone loves. However, I hadn’t ever tried making lemon ones because most of the lemon scones I have tried in the past have been far too lemony – unpleasantly so. But this month is all about the lemon, so I figured I might as well give it a go.

The scones are mixed and then shaped and baked, and then you let them cool for about 15 minutes before you top them with a thick lemon glaze.

Fifteen minutes, by the way, is plenty of time to go hang out with tiny three week old foster kittens.

This recipe uses a lot of lemon – nearly six tablespoons of juice (including what’s in the lemon glaze on top), and several teaspoons of zest, but yet weirdly it wasn’t very lemony at all (and most of what’s there is from the glaze on top and not the scones itself). I don’t know if maybe the lemon flavor will become more pronounced as they sit, or if it’s because I used Meyer lemons instead of regular ones, but I was quite relieved. I would definitely make these again (although perhaps I might cut them into smaller pieces next time).

Lemons used: 3

Total lemons this month: 8

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

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Comfort food

Tonight was another busy night, so I made this Creamy Lemon Pasta with Peas and Ham.

Basically, you cook up some pasta, and toss some frozen peas into the pot near the end (after first removing a cup of the pasta water for the sauce). Meanwhile you toast minced garlic and red pepper flakes in oil, then add in the zest and juice of one lemon, along with the pasta water, and a little bit of cream, and let that reduce. If you want to add ham (which we thought was an excellent addition), you mince that up and toss it in a separate pan to brown, and then at the end, you stir everything together with some parmesan and serve.

The recipe calls for orecchiette pasta, but I used mini elbows because that’s what was in the cupboard. Plus I inadvertently toasted the garlic a little too far, so I ended up straining the sauce prior to thickening it, to remove the charred bits (oops). But despite that little mishap, it turned out quite tasty. This is one we’ll definitely make again, although next time I will significantly decrease the amount of olive oil used, since it was a little on the greasy side.

Lemons used: 1

Total lemons this month: 6

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

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The only snow we’ll see

Tonight is a rehearsal night, which means I didn’t have much time to make anything complicated, so I made Lemon Snowball Cookies.

I stumbled across this recipe a few weeks ago, in King Arthur Flour’s social media feed, and have been looking forward to trying them ever since. They have some similarities to Mexican Wedding Cakes, but these don’t have crushed nuts. They go together pretty quickly – just cream the butter and zest a lemon, and add in powdered sugar and a couple of other ingredients. Once out of the oven, they cool for a few minutes, and then get rolled in powdered sugar.

The recipe calls for the addition of lemon powder to the powdered sugar coating, but I don’t have any, or know what it is, and since the primary goal is to use up actual lemons, not lemon substitutes, I just ignored that bit.

They are delicate, and a little bit crumbly, and there’s a light lemon flavor that gives just a hint of brightness without being overwhelming. Over all, they are a perfectly acceptable cookie. Will I make them again though? Eh, probably not.

Lemons used: 1

Total lemons used: 6

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

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Little jar of sunshine

Today has been a very busy day. I got up and set up dough for sandwich rolls, and then while that was sitting, I made a peanut butter coffeecake from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (which included as a rather perky note (this version was published in the 80’s) that this would delight my coworkers when served to them at break time. Um, since I now work 100% from home, sorry, cats, you don’t get to be delighted, but it was pretty delicious). I also made dinner rolls to go with the soup we have planned for later this week, and finished off a piece for the next Lacy Knitters Guild newsletter, and paid some bills and did some cleaning, and laundry, and got to hang out with a friend who came for some kitten therapy. Oh, and also I made lemon curd, because there are still a bazillion lemons in the fridge.

It is inevitable, when you are looking at how to use up lemons, that lemon curd will happen. I have made it many, many times in the past and will make it many more times in the future. All it takes is butter, sugar, and the juice and zest of a couple lemons, plus twenty minutes of your time. I have seen recipes that indicate that you can get away with just stirring occasionally, and sure, that will work just fine if you don’t mind little bits of cooked egg in your curd, but I would rather just stand there and whisk it the entire time, because it’s worth it.

Most of this is earmarked for recipes later this month, but we couldn’t help having just a little tonight. After all, we still have extra crepes that need using up, and a dollop of fresh lemon curd is a delightful way to do so.

Lemons used: 3

Total lemons used: 5

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

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Smokey salty sour sweet

Today is the Day of the Crepe in France, according to Google (and Google would never lie to me), so naturally there had to be crepes. Here is where I freely admit that in the past I have said that you don’t really need a crepe pan; that a regular skillet will do, but it turns out crepe pans are magical devices that enable one to make vast quantities of crepes with minimal ripping, and also, they will all come out in relatively the same size and shape. So hooray to my awesome husband for getting me one last year for my birthday!

I used the crepe recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook, which claims to make only a dozen crepes, but which actually makes lots more. This is not a bad thing, to be clear, because crepes can be filled with all manner of delicious things. This month, however, we are all about the lemon, so I pulled a recipe out of the dusty stacks (no idea where I originally found it), and dinner tonight was crepes stuffed with smoked salmon and topped with a sour cream, lemon, caper, and dill sauce.

I know it doesn’t look like much, but trust me when I say they are amazing. The sauce is nothing more than one cup of sour cream mixed with a dash of dill, two tablespoons of capers (finely chopped), and the zest and juice of one lemon. You get the sweetness of the crepe, the acidity of the lemon, the salty-sour of the capers, and the smoothness of the sour cream, all marrying perfectly with the salmon. Yum.

The entire time we were eating it, we kept saying ‘Why haven’t we made this more often?’ So…yeah…this one is definitely joining the rotation next year when the lemon tree explodes.

Lemons used: 1

Total lemons this month: 2

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

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A month of yellow

I know I have mentioned in the past that we have a very prolific Meyer lemon tree. For example, the other day, I harvested this mound of lemons, which looks like a lot (that’s about 5 dozen) until you realize that there were probably two to three times that many more on the tree.

Faced with a mountain of lemons, I decided that this year’s Thingadailies project will be to make something with lemons every single day for the entire month.

To kick things off, tonight I made Fluffy Lemon Puddings. It’s a recipe scaled down to make only two servings, which I figured would be good since there’s only two of us and a whole month of lemony treats yet to go.

The recipe is pretty straightforward. You mix up lemon juice and zest, egg yolk, sugar, butter, and flour, and then fold in whipped egg whites. Then you pour the mixture into two ramekins, and pop it in the oven to bake.

However, note that in this picture there is only one ramekin.

That’s because as I was taking it out of the oven, I dropped the other, which then proceeded to splatter all over the floor.

Foster kitten B-Mo was right on scene to offer his immediate assistance in cleaning it up (don’t worry – he only got a couple licks in before I was able to shoot him away and clean up the rest).

The end result was super tasty. As it bakes, the top and bottom separate, so you get a light cake layer above and a creamy lemon curd type layer below.

We will definitely be making this recipe again (and next time I will be more careful when transferring ramekins).

Lemons used: 1

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

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The bargain we make

It was almost twenty years ago, in the fall of 1999. I was no longer officially fostering with the Yolo County SPCA, although I had been known to take in a kitten here and there when one crossed my path (it’s how I ended up with Rosemary, after all). I was meeting up with some friends who were still heavily involved with the fostering, and we were in the back room at the clinic. One of them opened a cage door and this tiny little black puffball of a kitten launched himself out of the cage, straight at me. As I scrambled to catch him, one of my friends noted idly that he really needed a home.

They told me his story. He had been run over by a car and then surrendered to the shelter by his previous owners due to his injuries. One of his back legs was crushed. The vet – a rather crusty older guy – noted that he really should have just removed the leg entirely, but on a whim, he decided to see if he could save it. So by the time i met him, he was mostly recovered, but just sporting a limp, and a pin in his leg to keep everything straight while he healed.

I pondered. Rosie was the youngest and really needed someone to play with. I said I’d agree to foster him, but only if he and Rosie got along. They agreed to play along with the pretense that he was only going to be temporary, and I took him home. I named him Azrael, after the Angel of Death, because with his injuries he really shouldn’t have survived. Naturally he and Rosie got along famously, and it wasn’t long before he wore down all the others. Clearly he was staying.

Azzie, 2003

He grew up to be a black puffball of an adult, with huge round yellow eyes. He looked a lot like Nermal from the Garfield cartoons, except that unlike Nermal, Azzie was not smart. In fact, he was probably the dimmest cat I’ve ever known. He once got himself lost behind a see-through shower curtain. While the other cats all figured out a cat door in a matter of minutes, it took him over a week, and then he would first only go through when one of the others would go through, as if he wasn’t quite sure that it would work just the same. When we moved into the house in Sacramento, every other cat quickly figured out within days that the upstairs bathroom had two doors, and if one was open, they could just go around to the other side to get in, but it took Azzie over a year.

He may not have been the brightest of cats, but his internal clock was strong. He knew that wet food would come at 5pm, every night, so at least an hour or so beforehand he’d started yelling in the kitchen, just in case we had forgotten.

Azzie in 2017

The last year or two he’d been slowing down a lot – arthritis was definitely taking its toll.

And he’d also been dealing with a chronic upper respiratory infection. Initially we’d take him in and they’d give him a shot, or give us some pills, and that would clear it up for a couple months, but lately, nothing was working.

Azzie, from May of this year

He’d lost a few pounds over the past few years, as is normal for elderly cats, but in the past couple months the weight loss had increased. And it took us a little while to come to terms with what we knew we had to do, because through it all he was still coming for food, and able to jump up on the couch, and snuggle up for attention, but it was time.

It is hard, looking at the pictures of him from the past year, to remember what he once was, all wide-eyed and fluffy, skittering around chasing toys and running up and down the cat trees. I sat in the library this morning, watching our current crop of foster kittens charge around the room, and I thought – this is the bargain we make, when we take on these young things, full of life and energy. We let them into our homes and our hearts and they give us love and entertainment and joy, but in return, along with food and water and toys and things to climb and laps to snuggle and warm places to sleep, we also agree that we will make the hardest decision, when the time comes, to let them go.

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When life gives you…Part 3

I swear this isn’t going to turn into an all-baking-all-the-time blog, although apparently you wouldn’t guess it from this month’s entries. Ah well. Here is our next installment!

When there are still far too many tangelos in the fridge (from the tangelo tree), and you are pondering what to make for a weekend breakfast, you should make Orange Rolls.

They start with a basic sweet yeast dough (I used this one from King Arthur Flour), and as you are mixing it all together, toss in the zest from two tangelos.

Then while the dough is proofing, whip up a quick batch of marmalade. You do this by cutting up one tangelo (remove the seeds!) into chunks, then pulse it in a blender, then dump the ensuing glop into a pan with half a cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of tangelo juice (because you need to use those zested tangelos somehow). Then bring it to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until it is thick. Set that aside to cool.

When the dough has doubled in size, then you roll it out into a fat rectangle (look at all the lovely zest in that dough)

Then you spread the marmalade all over the dough.

Then you roll it up and slice it into 16 pieces and arrange them in two round pans.

Don’t they look pretty with the marmalade peeking out?

Then those rise for a while, and then get baked until they are just turning golden brown.

And finally, while still warm, you drizzle them with icing made from powdered sugar and tangelo juice, and then devour.

These are delicious. I admit I was skeptical about the marmalade, because I am not a fan – I usually find it too bitter. But it works wonderfully in these. There is a slight bitter note from the marmalade, but it is counteracted quite nicely by the sweetness from the dough and the icing.

Considering how prolific that tangelo tree is getting, I will definitely be making these again. Yum.

Tis the season for Holidailies.

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When life gives you…Part 2

Oh look, it’s that time of year again when the lemon shrub has gone completely insane with fruit and I am desperately trying to come up with ways to use them up.

This year, because I need to make lots of cookies for a cookie exchange, I asked Google for help, and lo, did Google provide (all hail our robot overlords).

So today I spent the majority of the day making Meyer lemon cookies.

It is a rather tedious sort of recipe because the dough on its own is fairly soft, so there was a lot or rolling and freezing and cutting and freezing some more, and then after they were cooled, they were topped them with a lemon glaze, which (bonus!) used even more lemon juice and zest, so then there were cookies all over the counter all day, waiting for the glaze to set

But on the plus side, the cookies are absolutely delicious – a lovely light lemon flavor without being too tart.

Also three batches of cookies used up 8 lemons, so there are only about 573 left on the tree to go.

Tis the season for Holidailies.

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When life gives you…part 1

When there are a lot of tangelos on the tangelo tree that all come ripe at once, and you also need to make something for a gathering, you should make tarts.

First you make some tiny little tart shells, using a mini muffin pan.

Then you zest and juice some tangelos and whisk that with some butter and sugar and eggs over a pan of simmering water for about 20 minutes, until it becomes tangelo curd.

You let that chill, then dollop it into the tart shells and then you top that with some meringue, which you hit with a kitchen torch because that makes it fancy.

And then you eat them because yum.

Tis the season for Holidailies.

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