January 29, 2012

And Lemonade Too

When life gives you lemons, why limit yourself to lemonade, especially when said lemons are a bundle of glistering sunny Meyer lemons and a deal you simply cannot pass at a warehouse store (that will not be named here!).

First the lemons. Gorgeous produce is like a work of art. And these lemons are beauties. Meyer lemons are a deep saturated yellow, not your typical anemic lemon, and very juicy.

Meyer Lemons Still Life
Yes, I love my Color Theory: Yellow Lemons + Cobalt Plate.
First on my list are Moroccan Preserved Lemons. Many Moroccan recipes call for preserved lemons but I add them to chicken dishes and even salad dressings for that tangy note that’s hard to describe. Preserved lemons sound exotic and are hard to find in a store but could not be easier to make.

I cut my lemons in quarters and stuff them in a jar with a generous sprinkling of sea salt, squeezing wedges down with a spoon to get the juice flowing. Bay leaf and peppercorns give a little extra flavor. The jar can stay on the counter for 2-3 days (push down lemons with a spoon each day to make sure they are covered in juice) and then lemons need a few weeks in the fridge to finish fermenting. A little wedge of preserved lemon goes a long way so a jar will last a good while.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons
When using preserved lemons skip or reduce the salt so your dish isn't over-salted.
When junior members of the household got a whiff of the lemons bounty, they requested lemonade. So we squeezed the juice, added a bit of sugar and some water. It will keep scurvy away, no?

Meyer Lemon Lemonade
Pitcher of lemonade reminded us of summer in the middle of dreary January.
Finally marmalade. The remaining lemons and peels left from the lemonade get sliced into strips and mixed with sugar and simmered on the stove until it turns into, well, marmalade. Because Meyers have so much juice, I added just a tiny bit of gelatin to sicken the marmalade. This marmalade has some rosemary from the patch in front of my house though it made the color a little dull so next time I am going to stick with basics!
Meyer Lemon marmalade with rosemary herbs
Since I don't keep canning supplies on hand, I reused some jars slated for recycling bin.

January 11, 2012

January Assortment: From Downton to Heirlooms

Last time I wrote about an assortment of topics I had a pretty good time of it. So here is a January medley.

First, BBC’s Downton Abbey and very good it is. If you are not watching it yet, you should. It is full of drama for a thinking person (I mean you have to vaguely understand entailed property) not to mention the best zingers delivered by Dame Maggie Smith ("Do you think she’s mad, ill, or working for the Russians?").

I snagged this screengrab from PBS

This brings me to Julian Fellow's Snobs - anyone who enjoys Downton will LOVE this book. It is a delightful and frothy tale of British aristocracy but set in modern time. Julian Fellows is known for authoring Gosford Park but is rapidly becoming the "guy who wrote Downton Abbey."

Which brings me to Helen Frankenthaler who passed away just a few weeks ago.  No, no relation to other topics. Not only is her art important, but it is beautiful (there is a difference, you know). Frankenthaler worked with the likes of Jackson Pollock and poured thinned paint on canvas to create her works.

This work "Spiritualist" by Frankenthaler from 1973 hangs at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Final topic is tomatoes.  Heirloom tomatoes to be specific.  Buoyed by last year's gardening success (to my intense surprise I ended up with a crop of herbs from seed) I am keen to get started and patiently await my catalogue from Rare Seeds.  If you know anything about growing tomatoes in suburban yard or what heirlooms to choose, do get in touch.

With any luck in six months I will have my own crop of lovely tomatoes.

January 5, 2012

Chic Housekeeping

Happy New Year, Friends!

Dreary January seems to be all about organizing, clearing out, and making fresh starts. So with that I am turning my sights to household chores. Let me be perfectly clear: I do not enjoy cleaning. But I equally detest filth, just ask my cleaning lady. As I write this, I am trying not to dwell on the state of society that manages to turn laundry detergent into a luxury item. It’s just that these cleaning products smell great, make one feel good about making the right choices for the planet, and they are pretty.

First, Bon Ami. It sounds French. But it’s American to the core. Dating to 1890s Bon Ami doesn’t have weird chemicals and is still priced as if we lived a century ago. And the little yellow chick is adorable. I can tell you, it works wonder on messes left by the junior set in the Klatch household. But enough gushing, it’s just a cleaning product. 

Bon Ami Cleaner

Awwww, just look at the little chickie!

Next, Mrs. Meyer’s soap in Basil. It smells unbelievable! I have high hopes for their Parsley soap and Geranium laundry products.

Mrs. Meyer's Soap in Basil

For years I used fragrance-free dish liquid. The light citrusy fragrance makes one feel like dishes are actually a bit cleaner but doesn’t have that awful chemical smell.

Seventh Generation Dish Liquid

The Lemon Verbena-Thyme spray almost makes you forget that you are doing dull chores.

Seventh Generation Herby Spray

Last but not least this cute candle in a ceramic jar that I ordered from Anthro, smells like freshly baked cookies.

Yes. That was an entire post devoted to household cleaning products.  Mock me if you dare. 


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