Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lemony Goodness

OMG, the citrus!

The most persuasive argument for moving to California (if I were open to persuasion) would be the abundant and delicious citrus. It's everywhere! I'd heard this, of course, but until you're walking down the street and see five different kinds of citrus in five different yards on a single block...well you don't quite grasp the range and depth of the citrus bounty. At the farmer's market in Campbell, CA...the choices were too vast to fit in a single photo.

On Wednesday I went to Molly's first grade class where one of our activities was juicing lemons for their upcoming country fair. (William, in action, on the right) I was surprised to see the kids sucking on the rinds after they'd been juiced, but was told these were Meyer lemons, which are sweeter than other lemons.

Friday I moved south to San Jose, where Cayce had gotten a neighbor's permission to pick from his Meyer lemon tree. The fruit was fragrant and oily and the skins were an orange-y yellow, halfway between the color of an orange and a lemon. Our goal was making preserved lemons, something I'd wanted to try for years. Every recipe says this is best with Meyer lemons.

We picked and chose our favorite parts of several recipes, deciding to cut the lemons into pieces rather than leaving them whole. Each sterilized jar got a tablespoon of kosher salt, then we placed layers of lemons, adding salt on top of each layer and pushing down on the fruit to release the juices. We juiced a few additional lemons to top off the jars, and tried a few with a smidge of olive oil on top...just to see.

We ended up with 12 pints, several of which I'll be packing (oh so carefully) into my suitcase tomorrow for the trip back east. They need to sit for 4-6 weeks till the rinds are soft, and most recipes advise turning or shaking the jars once a day for at least the first week.

It is possible there was wine consumed during the preparation of the preserved lemons.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Perfect Weekend

My friend Molly says her ideal Saturday involves staying in bed: reading, drinking coffee, and lounging as long as she damn well pleases. I love Molly but my ideal Saturday is WAY different!

We had a great weekend in PA, partly because we can actually bathe here (bathroom construction in NYC...suffice it to say it's been 2 weeks since we've had a shower there). But mostly this weekend was wonderful because I tinkered in the kitchen almost constantly. I've been trying to empty the freezer over the past few weeks, getting ready for all the great spring vegetables that will start coming in soon (please let it be soon!).

This weekend I canned 4 quarts of chicken stock and 4 quarts of meat stock. Can you tell which is which?

I almost used up the last of my apples in 8 pints of spicy apple/chipotle chutney.

And finally, I bottled two batches of wine (beet and linden flower) and racked five other gallons into fresh jugs, moving them along on their journey to drink-ability.

As we head back into NYC (and what I hope will be our final week of bathing in the kitchen sink) I think fondly on my weekend in the kitchen.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Please Forgive Me!

I hate myself every time I realize how long it's been since I posted. I have all the usual excuses...none of them worthy.

Yesterday I went to the Philadelphia Flower Show and I am COMPELLED to write about it! I can't do it on the "business" blog, because my partner has dibs on the topic. That's why I'm back. I need you. I'm a big enough gardener to admit that. Can you find it in your hearts to forgive me?

But I digress. Why doesn't New York City have a Flower Show?! Are we not trend setters, show biz afficionados, leaders in our field, on the cutting edge? Who could put on a better flower show than a bunch of NYC gardeners?

Yes, there's the orchid show at the NYBG (love it, love it, who said I didn't?) but why should Chicago, San Franciso, Seattle and Philadelphia have flower shows when we don't? I actually kind of hate the main thrust of the big flower shows: the fake, themed, forced gardens, heavy on the hardscape, all looking sadly the same. But I LOVE the lectures, the plant competitions, the vendors, and the special exhibits. Horticultural Haute Couture, anyone?

The skirt is made from Aspidistra leaves!

I'm heading to San Fran for their boffo show on 3/17 and will be speaking on 3/18 @ 2 pm (Small Space Gardening) and 3/19 @ 11:30 am (Great Container Plants). If you're in the 'hood, please come say hello.

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