One rainy day, about a decade ago when we were staunch locavores and still beginning to learn about what that meant (and how to incorporate balance), a friend left a surprise sack of lemons on my porch. During her drive north, they’d traveled with her in her tiny trunk, fresh from her parents’ CA tree, and she thought I might like them. Oh, it was the first time I’d ever smelled a freshly picked lemon! I’ll never forget that moment, standing on my porch in the rain, opening that sack, and being hit by a waft of sunshine.
Recently, I had some more fresh lemons come into my life. Another friend received a big box of lemons from a relative’s tree. There I was again, with that same scent in my nose (on another drippy February day.) I set about “converting” them for both our families. Starting with pie, moving on to bread, not quite making it to curd, as I had intended to – we got some good miles out of those lemons this winter.
Lemon Meringue Pie
Adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery book (which surpassed my family recipe in flavor)
Makes 1 deliciously large pie that needs to be eaten within a day or two
your favorite pie crust recipe, weighted and prebaked at 425 for 20 minutes, then cooled
6 egg yolks
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. milk
zest from two lemons
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
3 tbls. unsalted butter
For the meringue:
6 egg whites (from above)
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
- Separate the yolks and whites into bowls. Set aside.
- In a pot on the stove over medium, whisk together the sugar, conrstarch, and salt. Add 1 1/4 c. water and the milk. Whisk continuously for about 5 minutes until thick.
- Temper the egg yolks by mixing about 1 cup of your heated milk mixture into them first, then adding this all back into the pot.
- Add the lemon zest and lemon juice. Set the pot over low, then simmer, whisking often. You’re looking for a thick and glossy custard.
- Remove from the heat, add in the butter. Pass this “lemon pudding” through a sieve, then add it to your prebaked pie shell.
- To make the meringue, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt together with the whisk attachment of a mixer for one minute. When this looks frothy, add the granulated sugar and beat until you see peaks. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat again on medium until they are stiff.
- Immediately pour the meringue onto the pudding in the pie shell.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes on 375F.
- Cool for at least an hour before serving.
Lots going on in the kitchen these days, but I’m writing most of it up over at the Kitsap Sun. The latest thing? You need this. You really do. You’re welcome. Here’s my favorite chocolate cake recipe, coming at you just in time for February.First in the category of ‘how I do all the cooking there is to be done on Sunday and eat for the rest of the week’…pita! I used this recipe from trusty King Arthur, substituting whole wheat flour for both the white wheat and the AP. I also stocked up on granola and bagels today. Needless to say, there was flour everywhere. (Look for an article soon about steam ovens and bagel making…uncharted territory!)
Let’s chat about nut balls. (No, not your visiting relatives…) These often masquerade as energy balls or ‘no bake’ cookies. Really, it’s just a simple vehicle for quickly getting protein into your belly. Or, in our case, into a belly of an on the go kid. These are the snacks that he requested and so we made up a batch to our liking. Using King Arthur’s formula as a guide, we made it our own with a few add ins from the pantry. I’m sure you’ll make it your own too. It’s easily customized to your little person’s preference. Be sure to assess the dough for moisture before you roll the balls. It needs to stick together and appear smooth. Go ahead and add a little drip of water if it’s too dry.
Nut Balls, A Protein Packed Snack
3/4 c. nut butter
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. dry milk
1 tbls. raw cacoa powder (not cocoa)
1 tbls. hemp powder
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup rolled oats
1 cups of yummy stuff: chopped nuts, seeds, coconut, or whatever you choose
- Haul out the food processor. Pulse the nuts and seeds, if you like. Set those aside.
- In the now empty bowl of the food processor, add the first group of ingredients: nut butter, honey, dry milk, powders, and vanilla. Pulse until mixed.
- Add in the oats and yummy stuff.
- With damp hands, roll this dough into balls. Coat in some more yummy stuff, if you like.
Makes about 16-24 balls, depending on size.
- Store in the refrigerator.
- You can definitely do this without a food processor, mixing with muscles and a sturdy spoon. I thought that the food processor simplified the steps.
- Look for an organic source of cacoa powder or hemp protein powder.
I had a few holiday columns over at the Kitsap Sun that you might like to check out. If you’re looking for an easy gift for kids to make or a way to embellish your own tree, you might like the recipe for salt dough ornaments.
We plan to use them as tags for the homemade jams we made this summer. It’ll be a pretty, thrifty holiday gift.
Boo! Happy Halloween! I’m not one who usually falls for kitschy holiday things, but walking through town last year, this cookie stamp caught the child’s eye. Now, it seems to be a welcome tradition. Making gingerdead men is not only a hilarious pun (that pretty much cracks us up every time we say it) but is also a delicious fall treat to gift and munch. We used fresh, local ginger from Tani Creek, and so this cookie has a little zing that becomes addicting.
Tips for Making Gingerdead Men
- Use your favorite chocolate sugar cookie recipe or go with our favorite. We love the chocolate ginger combination of this recipe. The dough is easy to work with (if you keep it chilled) and really holds its shape. Definitely don’t skip the fresh ginger.
- Roll your chilled dough out thinly. To make stamping easier, flour the dough and the stamp side of the cutter.
- Stamp first, using a small cutting board to help you press down evenly. Next, cut it out and transfer the deadman, still in the cutter, to a parchment lined sheet with a large spatula. Tap it out of the cutter directly onto the sheet.
- Use a thicker royal icing recipe. We whisked together: 1 1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar, 3 tsp. meringue powder, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 2 tbls. water.
I have officially declared this year’s canning season closed. I have canned all of the things. I have used all of the jars. All of them. Aside from one excusable weakness (peaches!), I stuck to my goal of only canning free fruit. This wasn’t too hard this year, actually. Even though our garden production isn’t fully up and running, when friends know you preserve, somehow bags of produce seem to make their way to your back porch. (Lucky me! But really, people, canning season is CLOSED.)
Recently a friend and I were invited to pick some pears from a regal and impressive old tree. Such a gift! I made a lot of chocolate pear jam (which I’m renaming, more appropriately pear butter) from Preserving by the Pint. I look forward to eating this on a snowy day in December in front of a fire – it’s definitely a holiday jam.
With the pears, also, I made several pear anise pies from the one pie book you absolutely must own. On some of the pies, I added a streusel topping. I froze the pies raw and plan to bake them as needed. To do this, line your empty pie plate with plastic wrap and then build your pie on top. Freeze for about 2-3 hours, then pop out of the plate. Wrap and label. I find it helpful to list which pie plate I used since I have many of varying sizes. To bake a fruit pie from frozen, unwrap, place in plate, and pierce vents on top with a chef’s knife. Follow baking temperature and time in recipe, adding 25-30 extra minutes. If your pie begins to brown, loosely lay a square of foil on the top.
A generous islander gave me some figs from a beautiful, mature tree. So, of course, I had to learn what to do with them right away! We ate a few for breakfast just straight up, with honey and chopped nuts. We gave away a few to friends who had never eaten a fig before. The rest, I found a few ways to preserve them for the rest of the year.
- I modified this chutney recipe, using dried cherries and omitting the red pepper powder. This will be delicious in the fall and I imagine it on the Thanksgiving table.
- From Preserving by the Pint, I made fig and thyme jam. It’s already been enjoyed on cheese platters and turkey sandwiches. Yum.
- In the steam oven, I dehydrated halved figs for 16 hours. (16?!) I was still unhappy with the level of dryness, so I packaged them for the freezer. I plan to make fig anise bread with these.