Sunday, January 27, 2008

local, seasonal citrus

Maybe it's that I was coming down with a head cold, but about halfway through this last week I found myself craving citrus fruit. If all California is your food shed, there are many choices. Around here I've seen a few orange trees, but by far the dominant variety is the Meyer lemon - that hardy cross between a lemon and a sweet orange.

I have a gift of lemons in my kitchen right now, from a very prolific backyard tree. Just to smell them and see them in their blue glass bowl is edifying. But I've been looking for some fresh ideas of what to do with them, so was pleased to find this article in the LA Times:,1,7792191.story

Now I need to say that some of these suggestions don't work for seasonal here, even though the lemons are. I doubt anyone is putting lemon juice in their children's hair and taking them to the beach today on the Sonoma Coast. It's not particularly cold today, but it is wet and blustery. My popsicle molds are put away until next summer, and the cold drinks don't appeal much either.

Some of the ideas are no respecter of local either. I hope no one here or in Los Angeles runs out and buys Maine lobster to go with their lemons. Getting some crab I understand, but finding that one of the best free things in life is backyard lemons, and then pairing it with 3000 mile seafood seems quite contradictory.

And would my dentist find using lemon juice as a dentifrice very smart?

I'm taken with the idea, though, of putting some meyer lemon zest in oatmeal bread or rolls, and even more taken by the pairing of meyer lemons and cardamom as seasonings in both sweet and savory. Or bringing back pomanders, and using meyer lemons for them. And I think when searching for ideas for using the lemons in baking, I am going to look at recipes for oranges, too, and just substitute the meyers.

And given this headcold, it's a lemon, juiced, plus local honey, hot water, and unlocal whiskey at bedtime for me tonight.

The only remaining dilemma is whether to do some preserving or not. Marmalade or limoncello? I told myself I needed a break from the too many baking and preserving adventures of summer and fall, and am rather hoping, giving the press of my several jobs and commitments, that I can stick to simple cooking of meals for a while.

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