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Monthly Archives: April 2015

IT’S GOOD TO BE KIND

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PENZEYS

We have this neighbor who has been bringing us Meyer lemons from the tree of another neighbor. Huge fat juicy lemons, more than could be used. I grated the zest from all the lemons, dried it, put some in a jar by itself, mixed the rest with black pepper to make lemon-pepper. I froze the juice in ice cube trays and put the cubes in a freezer bag.

This week Carol brought us grapefruit – the best ruby red grapefruit ever, so sweet they needed no sugar, incredibly juicy, and enormous. My husband suggested I make her a pie.

I had made this pie for her last summer with a blueberry topping, and she really liked it. This week I bought the most fabulous strawberries from a roadside vendor, so I thought that would make a good topping. Made the pie, sliced the strawberries, took it to her. She was very grateful and she said she would take at least half of the pie to the woman whose lemons and grapefruit she had picked and given to us.

A couple of hours later Carol knocked on the door. She had taken 3/4 of the pie to the 92 year old woman who owned the fruit trees. The woman started to cry. In all the years she had given away the fruit from her trees, no one had ever given her a gift in return.

Recipe by David Zafferelli from The Open Hand Cookbook. I have slightly adapted it. This is similar to my other Lemon-Buttermilk Pie recipe, but I think I prefer this one.

This pie is for Angie.

LEMON BUTTERMILK PIE

  • 3 eggs
    3/4 cup sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon flour
    zest of 2 lemons
    4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 cup buttermilk
    4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
    1 9-inch pie crust, pre-baked and cooled

Have all your ingredients at room temperature before you begin to keep the filling from curdling or separating.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Beat eggs by hand until light; slowly add the sugar while beating until you reach the ribbon stage (mixture falls from the spoon in a ribbon-like shape when lifted out). Do not be tempted to use an electric mixer here; it will make the filling too frothy,

Add in this order, beating after each addition: salt, flour, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Then carefully stir in the buttermilk, then the melted and cooled butter.

Pour into the pre-baked pie crust. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 and bake another 15-25 minutes. The center of the filling should still be a little jiggly when you take the pie out of the oven; it will continue to cook as it cools.

When pie is cool, top with sliced strawberries. To make a pretty concentric design, start arranging berries in the center of the pie and work in a circle toward the edge. If you wish, warm 1/2 cup apricot jam and brush over the berries as a glaze.

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ALASKA RHUBARB-ONION RELISH

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My mother always bought Sunset Magazine back when it was a truly regional magazine and not the generic corporate mess it’s become now. (Bitter much? Not me.) I still own a number of Sunset Magazines and cookbooks from their glory days. I was thumbing through Sunset Cook Book of Favorite Recipes (1978, 16th printing, badly stained and falling apart but  I won’t buy a replacement because I’m afraid the editors might have decided to “improve” it) when I came across this old recipe. When I was a kid I thought this was sounded weird and as disgusting as something could sound, but I was a kid and totally brainless.

After finding similar-but-not identical recipes online, I made this somewhat enhanced version a couple of weeks ago and let it age. Yesterday we had a ham for Easter and I served this alongside. It was great with the ham. It would be wonderful with turkey, pork, duck, lamb, or anything gamey like venison. It tastes similar to mincemeat, somewhat savory yet sweet with brown sugar. Make it now while rhubarb is in the market. It’s super-simple. I saw other recipes that  increased the cayenne to a teaspoon, cut the brown sugar in half, added garlic, pickling spices, and so on. This would lend itself to any number of variations.

ALASKA RHUBARB-ONION RELISH

  • 4 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 4 cups chopped white or yellow onions
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 scant tablespoon salt
  • 4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon each cloves, allspice, cinnamon, black pepper, and celery salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Combine all ingredients in a large pan.

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Cook slowly over medium heat.

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It will turn a vile and unappetizing brown but smell heavenly. Keep cooking and stirring occasionally until it gets fairly thickened (like warm jam).

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Pour into sterilized canning jars and seal. (This entry discusses the process of sterilizing jars and basic canning of high-acid foods.) The recipe says it makes 8 cups, but I got about 6 cups.

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