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California in my Kitchen

Backpacking in Algonquin
It's been cold and gray in Ontario. The snow has melted revealing a winter of refuse, and depositing it all on the sidewalk. In California it has been Meyer lemon season. There are lots and lots of good reasons to live in Canada (health care, education and Human Rights legislation among my favorites) but California has all the good fruit. I have recurring fantasies about flying home from California with nothing but suitcases full of fruit.

Here are the lemons loitering in my kitchen, no idea that every delicious scrap of their peel and juice is about to be make into something:

Meyer lemons

The lemons have become: lemon curd (3 kinds), a very tasty lemon pasta, lemon macaroons, lemon sugar, limoncello, lemon pistachio shortbread, candied lemon peel, lemon truffles, salt-preserved lemons, part of a lemon-ginger tofu dish, a lemon pie, lemon whip-cream and a failed attempt at drunken lemon marmalade which may still be revived as drunken lemon candy.

Alright, it's true, the lemons pictured in the bowl above did not become all those things. They became some of those things, they were Meyer lemon round one, and they inspired Meyer lemon round two and three. The end of round three were juiced, and frozen in ice cubes for future lemon squares and pie. The Meyer lemon season may be brief, but I made as best use of it as I could.

lemoncello

Here we have two jars of future limonchello, also known as the skins of 10 lemons sitting in vodka. The jars went from the kitchen table to a dark cupboard where they spent three weeks considering what they had done. At that point the peels were removed, and simple syrup added. If I had more lemons, I tell you, I would be making more of this. It is disturbingly good and easy to drink. If it lasts long enough, it will make fabulous summer patio drinks, We'll see. In the meanwhile it is making very nice "little nip at the end of the day drinks".

salted lemons

More lemons in jars about to be sent off to lemon purgatory. These ones are packed in lemon juice and salt and were sent to spend two weeks in the dark cupboard. I daily shook the jar and at the end of two weeks moved the jar to the fridge. Further salt lemon adventures to follow. My lips pucker in anticipation.

Meyer lemon and pistachio

Why yes, those cookies might have finely ground pistachio pieces in them. The kind of pistachio pieces that might have been on their way to being part of pistachio macaroons if only they had been smaller. Alas, these pistachio pieces were too big to pass through the sieve, and so became part of these cookies instead of macaroons. Neither way really seems like a bad end for a pistachio really.

candied orange peel

Oh, and California is not just about lemons. The grocery store also had fragrant organic heirloom oranges. I did not want the lemons to be lonely, so I brought home a bag. And then went back for another. The first bag of oranges was peeled and juiced. I candied the peels (including dipping some in chocolate) and the juice became several jars of orange creamsicle jelly. The jelly turns out to be an excellent addition to our home-made sheep's milk yogurt, highly favoured by babies and big people alike.

candied orange peel and orange creamsicle jelly

There is California in my kitchen, and I am mighty pleased about it. I was introduced to candied peel a number of years ago by my friend Jane who would make it for Pesach. I've thought of her lots as I have been peeling and cutting and boiling and rolling and drying the peel. I also used a lemon juicer Jane gave me (which she purchased in Costa Rica) to juice fruit in my citrus extravaganza. I'm not able to join Jane at her Seder tables this year due to distance and family obligations, but i will share my candied peel at the seders I attend, and think of Jane serving hers and feel a little closer to her.


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