Before I get into how awesome my friends are, I just wanted to show off a little bit, & brag about a pretty piece of design I did. My Facebook fans already saw it, but I figure showing it off on the blog couldn’t hurt. Stroke my ego, will ya? A few nights back I was sitting home one rainy, miserable night, drinking an Irish coffee, listening to Lady Gaga (see above) & playing around on Illustrator when this little beauty above just kinda drew herself. Isn’t it pretty? I love it. I call it “Holy Lola.” It’s already on my new business cards (which are currently being printed & cost me nothing but shipping, thank you Klout & Moo Cards), and I’m even contemplating getting it as a tattoo, but I was undecided at first whether or not to use it in a new blog design. Clearly, I made up my mind, as you can see there’s a whole new thing goin’ on here. If you’re not seeing it, clear your cache & refresh the page. Just a word of warning: it’s copyrighted, it’s my work, and if I find anyone stealing it or passing it off as their own… your face will meet my brass knuckles. Or at the very least, you’ll be at the wrong end of a strongly worded e·mail & public embarrassment, which coming from me is just as bad. Just ask Sharon Luann Swann Stallings or whatever her name was. Whatever happened to her, anyway, is she still stealing people’s cupcake photos, claiming they’re hers & promoting “her business” on Craigslist? Or did I totally scare her off the internet? What a lying little rotten egg she was (the last paragraph of this post explains that incident a bit).
But sometimes, you meet the coolest people on the internet. There are a lot of assholes, yes. You hear about it everyday on the news: people pretending to be other people, people scamming people out of money, people who stalk other people they don’t even know on the ‘net, fake charities that rip you off, sneaky bastards that find out via Facebook when you’re going on vacation then clean out your entire damn house, etc. But all that said- there are tons of really cool people out there too. I have a gazillion awesome friends, some of which I’ve known for 9+ years, that I’ve met on the interwebs. Really genuine & truly special people: Yoyo, Anna, Rain, Becky, Cece, Ari, Percy, Jamie, Heather, Joey, Melissa, Tania, Susan, Carlos, Lyns, Miemo and more who I probably forgot (but who are no less important!). Some of these people I’ve had relationships with for years & years. I may not talk to every single one of them as much as I did at one time, but I still love & adore them. They’re all cooler than your friends, I bet *wink* And then there are people I only know through their comments on my blog, like Pola, who is sending me a super special present via Amazon! People I don’t even “know” are kind enough to send me awesome stuff.
Which brings me to one of the many really cool people I’ve met more recently- Molly. Molly is a very sweet, very cool makeup artist & blogger (with a sweet tattoo) who’s originally from Alaska, but now living in Arizona. She’s got an adorable chihuahua named Ruca & a Meyer lemon tree in her yard. Lucky girl, right? Well, I guess if you live in Arizona it might not be as unusual as I feel it is. Do you know how hard it is to get your hands on Meyer lemons if you live in New York? No? Well it’s really friggin’ hard. Almost impossible. We get mostly Eureka’s, maybe a couple of Lisbon’s, even some Ponderosa’s. We never ever get any Meyer’s, and if we do, they’re snatched up super quick from the gourmet market & are never to be found again.
Meyer lemons are a sort of lemon-orangey hybrid from China that are really popular on the west coast of the U.S. but over here on my side of the world, not so much.
Citrus × meyeri, the Meyer lemon, is a citrus fruit native to China thought to be a cross between a true lemon and either a mandarin or common orange. It was introduced to the United States in 1908 as S.P.I. #23028 by the agricultural explorer Frank Nicholas Meyer, an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture who collected a sample of the plant on a trip to China.
The Meyer lemon is commonly grown in China in garden pots as an ornamental tree. It became popular as a food item in the United States after being rediscovered by chefs such as Alice Waters at Chez Panisse during the California Cuisine revolution. Popularity further climbed when Martha Stewart began featuring them in her recipes.
Citrus × meyeri trees are around 6 to 10 ft (2 to 3 m) tall at maturity, though they can be pruned smaller. Their leaves are dark green and shiny. The flowers are white with a purple base and fragrant.
The Meyer lemon fruit is yellow and rounder than a true lemon. The skin is fragrant and thin, coloured a deep yellow with a slight orange tint when ripe. Meyer lemon fruits have a sweeter, less acidic flavor than the more common Lisbon or Eureka grocery store lemon varieties. The pulp is a dark yellow and contains up to 10 seeds per fruit.
So anyway, I saw a box of all the lemons she picked in a picture she posted on Instagram, and then I saw a photo of all the lemons in a bowl & I kiddingly (I swear!) said to send some my way. And like I mentioned in my last marmalade post, she did!
So I got a big, beautiful box of them. As soon as I opened it, I was hit with the best citrusy, lemony-sweet smell ever. It was amazing. And so basically I went lemon crazy. I made lemon curd, marmalade, candied citrus peels, lemon chewies with glaze from The Cookiepedia, made lemon-infused water, etc. I didn’t want even one of these babies to go to waste. I even reserved some seeds to try & grow my own, despite this crazy feeling that won’t work well at all. But it’s worth a shot! Maybe I can get my very own mini-Meyer lemon tree, I heard that even tiny ones are pretty prolific with the fruit. And of course, I’m sending Molly some of the treats I made as a thank you for her generosity. I even re-named the lemon curd after her (okay, so it’s just for blogging purposes, but still!).
Sometimes with my lemon curd, little pieces of the zest darken, or caramelize (I guess?)… I’m not sure why that happens, but it does. If it happens with yours, you can strain them out before ladling it into the jars. I like the zest in it, so I leave them in anyway. If you do leave ‘em in, you can always eat around the darker ones if they bother you, but they’re only little bits of darkened zest. Nothing harmful.
Again, I stress that if you aren’t familiar with the process of canning, you read this thoroughly before starting. It isn’t difficult, but you have to take certain precautions to be safe. Sterilizing your jars/lids & knowing what you can preserve using a water bath & what you can’t is important knowledge to have if you’re going to be doing this. The lemon curd doesn’t have to be processed, it can be put in a jar or Tupperware and refrigerated or used right away (cake filling, etc). Most curd recipes you find aren’t suited for canning, they’re simply meant to be eaten right away. This recipe is (very slightly) adapted from the USDA Center for Home Preservation’s curd recipe, so I’m pretty confident it’s up to par.
MISS MOLLY’S MEYER LEMON CURD
Makes about 5 half-pints
- 2 ½ cups sugar
- ½ cup fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice
- ½ cup bottled lemon juice (or, alternatively, use 1 whole cup bottled & omit the Meyer juice if you’re super anal & scared about acid levels)
- ¾ cup unsalted cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 1-2 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest
- 4 whole eggs, beaten thoroughly
- 7 egg yolks
- Bring boiling water canner to a boil. Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water. Put lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water from the canner.
- Combine zest and sugar in a bowl, mix well, and set aside for 20 minutes to let the flavors meld. Juice your lemons while the sugar & zest are coming together.
- Prep your eggs by thoroughly beating the 4 whole eggs until they are light and airy, with little bubbles. Make absolutely sure there are no white pieces floating around still.
- Separate seven egg yolks, and whisk them into the beaten egg mixture. Now combine all the ingredients in a medium-large non-reactive pot.
- Now turn the burner on, very very low, and whisk. Incorporate the ingredients together slowly and consistently, avoiding high heat that could cook/curdle the eggs.
- Once the butter has melted, turn the heat to medium and keep whisking. Eventually the mixture will thicken, and resemble the consistency of pudding. After another minute or two, the mixture will be thick enough that when you pull the whisk across the bottom of the pan, you will see the metal for a few seconds. That means the curd is starting to hold its shape.
- Remove the pot from the heat. You can run the curd through a fine sieve at this point to remove the zest. You don’t have to do this, but some people find it gross, and you’re really just imparting the flavor from the zest to intensify the lemon-yness, so it isn’t needed if you don’t want it. Ladle hot curd into hot jars leaving ½″-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims clean and attach lids. Processed the jars for 20 minutes.
When I was a kid, I always thought the color of curd & lemon meringue pie filling was from the lemons. Not true. The color doesn’t actually have much to do with the lemons, it’s due to the egg yolk, but this curd just so happened to have an amazing color pre-processing. So amazing I had to get a few shots of it. It became slightly paler after the waterbath & sitting overnight. I happened to get four half-pints (8-oz.) and two 4-oz. jars from this recipe, which equals 5 half-pints. And just like everything else I make, 5 out of those 6 jars were practically gone before they were even cooled!
This has a shelf life of 3-4 months, and if the harmless darkening in color doesn’t bother you, that can extend to up to one year. Of course it tastes best when eaten as soon as possible. You can also freeze it instead of processing it, or put it right into the fridge and use it right away. As far as what to do with it, you can swirl it into ice cream or frozen yogurt, use it as an ice cream topping, or put it on scones, muffins or toast. It makes a terrific cake or cupcake filling, an easy pie filling (basically that’s what lemon meringue pie is filled with) and it’s delicious on pound cake or angel food cake. Alternately you can just eat it out of the jar; that’s how my mother likes hers. Although sometimes she likes it on Toast-R-Cakes or English muffins too.
After the marmalades were made, the curds were spooned on to pound cakes, the candied lemon peels were all done, the lemon bars & lemon cookies were eaten and a few of the juicier lemons were eaten out of our hands like oranges… some of the smaller, more misshapen Meyer’s were left in the bottom of the bowl. With these, I made pomanders. Pomanders are quick to make, smell amazing & use up some of the older citrus fruit you may have around that’s too old to eat or use for jellies or marmalades. They’ve been around forever for just that reason. If you’re interested in making your own, check out the how-to’s with a Google search. There are a few different ways of doing it, they usually use oranges but because Meyer lemons are so similar in shape to small oranges, they worked out just fine for me. I couldn’t possibly give you the recipes to every single thing I made with these in one post. But let me just say that I made some lemon cookies, the candied lemon peel & lemon bars I mentioned above, divine c-lemon-tine marmalade (clementine marmalade with one large Meyer lemon thrown in) and some other, slightly different & interesting jelly I’ll probably be posting later on.
So thank you, Molly, for sending me these little bursts of sunshine during a month when I can barely stick my head out the door without my nose freezing off. What a great present to get. I’m lucky to know such incredible people on the internet. Without sounding like a cheeseball… they restore your faith in humanity. Not everyone is a total douchebag. Just something like 98%.
But no matter how many assholes there are in the world, I’m proud to know kick ass folks like this. And I was proud to have two big ass bowls of these lemons sitting on my table.