FOOD | Lemons, both as metaphor and as food, part 2

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June 30, 2011

Cross-posted from Kat Gaines’ personal blog The Wine-Y Tomato.

Read part one to her lemon post here.


So I just logged into Blogger to see this:

“Last post: April 22 2011.”

…whoops.

Sorry guys. That’s only like, a full two months+ of no whining and no tomatoes.*

Truth is, I just plain forgot. Life got chaotic again, and not in the “I have too much homework and too many part-time jobs” kinda way.

Well, a little bit in that way.

The first month after I stopped blogging was filled with finals and theses and various senior celebratory events. Oh, and GRADUATION.

Me + my parents after the ceremony. (All photos courtesy of Kat Gaines)

Yeah. I graduated from college. With two Bachelor of Arts degrees, surprisingly.** I’m still sort of reeling with excitement/nausea over that fact. I did still have to hobble across the stage as I received my diploma, as some of you will remember from the post about my horrific foot sprain two months ago that sent me into a cast for several weeks and a walking boot for a month after that, and pretty much couch potato state for an entire two months (I literally just stopped wearing the boot, and literally just started going for light jogs again last week. It still hurts when I run for a while or walk long distances, but dammit, I’m HEALING).

So my parents and sister were here for about a week and that time was spent eating many a free meal (thanks mom and dad!), having fun in various parts of SF/Oakland, and a trip to Livermore to visit friends of my parents who provided us with yet more delicious meals*** and a cozy place to stay (thanks, Rod and Angela!).

Then, immediately after my parents left, I was let go from my job. Nothing to fret over really, it was one of my part-time jobs and there were no hard feelings or anything, it just wasn’t the right place for me.

However, that meant I got really really poor for a minute. Which was also okay. It’s kind of obligatory to be living on pennies when you’ve just graduated university anyway, right? (That’s what I kept telling myself). I applied for an Americorps job which I really really wanted and which turned out to be a month-long hiring process, only to find out that I did not, in fact, get the job. (Also okay. It’s kind of obligatory to be turned down for your dream job when you’ve just graduated too, right?…. RIGHT?!)

And then I realized that my boyfriend and I had to start THE ROOMMATE SEARCH.

We were originally going to move me out of my current apartment, him out of his very crowded house, and find a place of our own, but after some discussions on finances etc, realized that it was not really going to happen.**** So we decided to find a new roommate/s to fill the extra space in this apartment.

We posted ads, like mad (hey that rhymed) EVERYWHERE. We serendipitously***** found another couple with whom we clicked really really well, and asked them to move in and they said yes. And then… there was an emergency which prevented them from being able to commit to our lease. It was totally not their fault, and they seemed as genuinely sad as we did that it wasn’t going to work, but it was a situation where nothing more could be done.

So we cried for a night (well, I did, telling Jon through sniffles that WE WERE GOING TO BE HOMELESS OH NOOO) and then got back on the horse, posting ads like mad yet again.

We met a few people in person. Some of them were incredibly NOT compatible with us. Some of them were just meh. Some of them seemed really great. There were a few more who we invited who also declined for various reasons (we were assured it was not us).

And then something finally started to go right (I was starting to believe that my parents’ visit over a month ago was seriously the last good thing that happened to me):

I got a job.
Like, a full-time job, yo.******

And honestly, it’s great. Everyone in the office is super nice and friendly and I’m encouraged to ask questions because I still don’t know anything and they feed us with a well-stocked snack area and lunch on Fridays******* and it’s a super relaxed but productive atmosphere, which is what I wanted: something where I don’t feel like I’m twiddling my thumbs constantly but where it’s possible to not be stressing out over this or that task every second either. BAM. Something finally going right: check

The roommate thing is still really, really bad. After an upswing of hopefulness it all went to hell again this morning. But the optimism lent to me by being gainfully employed again is seeping over into the roommate finding area of my life, and so after freaking out a little, things had started to look up a little by the end of the day. The fact that we couldn’t afford the full rent by ourselves, the worry that we would have to find a new place, etc. We have a place to live for at least the next month, the landlord will not kick me out because it’s paid for, and and we will likely have a roommate who can move in around Aug 1 and all will be well. *knock on wood*

So that’s why the title of this post. My life has kind of sucked for the last couple of months. But it always gets sweeter. Which is something that lemons also do, if you use them the right way.

And man, have I learned to use them the right way:

What’s that you ask? Oh, it’s just some quick, homemade lemon curd (no, not made in a microwave), on top of a piece of cinnamon vanilla whole wheat french toast. It’s probably not the most appetizing picture. I won’t win any blogging awards for my photography, that’s for sure. But trust me, it’s delicious.

You know, just some of the most delicious pale yellow stuff you will ever spread on a piece of toast. No big deal or anything.

So, even though I’m employed full-time, I am keeping the two very part time jobs from which I was not let go. Yeah, I could support myself with out working these jobs, but these women are also my friends and I would even say family, so I wouldn’t even consider it, and the extra cash is going to help when those student loan payments start rolling in. One of these ladies provides me with a few spare Meyer lemons whenever she has more than she can use, and I usually just use them to sweeten up a glass of water or use in place of regular lemons because I’m lazy, but this time I decided to make lemon curd. Yes, I try to eat mostly raw and super healthy and I still have fruit and vegetable smoothies for breakfast and dinner, but I like my occasional sweet and lemon curd is worth every calorie.

My first step was to look it up online. There are a billion different methods of making lemon curd on the web-verse, and you don’t want to screw it up, so don’t just trust anything. So after a read-through of David Lebovitz’s version, I did what any self-respecting extra -amateur chef would do in times of trouble –

I called my momma.

Because she made a BOMB batch of lemon curd last time I came home (with lemons in hand) and sent some back to California with me. I scraped every last drop out of the jar.

And y’know, because she’s my mom. So she taught me how to cook and stuff.

After carefully observing what she sent me (not just a recipe, but freakin’ knowledge) and Lebovitz’ recipe, I took to my kitchen armed and ready:



Homemade Lemon Curd

As David Lebovitz says, this is a “dare-devil” method of making lemon curd but with enough whisking it will work out!

INGREDIENTS:
3/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Zest from as many lemons as it takes to get the 3/4 cup of juice
1/3 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed

DIRECTIONS:
1. Whisk together the juice and zest with some sugar, egg yolks, eggs, and a pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan. Don’t put any heat under the pan yet, just use it as a receptacle in which to whisk like mad. Whisk, fellow curd-lovers, whisk! You want it to look as smooth as possible.
2. The butter, next. Add the cubed butter and set the pan over low heat. Keep whisking until the butter is melted.
3. Increase the heat to somewhere in between low and medium, and keep on whisking until your curd looks jelly-like and when you can lift your whisk and the mixture holds its shape when it falls back into the pan.
4. At this point, make sure to take it off the heat so that it doesn’t burn! Let it cool a little and spoon it into a glass jar or other storage container. Will keep in the fridge for up to one week.

The first step is to juice and zest the lemons (duh):

HOT TIP: for goodness’ sake zest the lemons BEFORE YOU CUT THEM IN HALF. I had an idiot moment and did it the opposite way, which made for some tedious zesting of the very ripe lemon halves. I made it happen though.

Next, whisk together the juice and zest with some sugar, egg yolks, eggs and a pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan. Don’t put any heat under the pan yet, just use it as a receptacle in which to whisk like mad. Whisk, fellow curd-lovers, whisk! You want it to look as smooth as possible.

And a little bit frothy.

If the sound of metal on metal makes your teeth hurt (like me), shut up and keep whisking. Sing the equally annoying “Friday” by Rebecca Black in your head to distract yourself. Your lemon curd’s awesome smooth texture will be worth all the scrape-y noises.

Next, add the butter, and turn on some LOW heat under the pan. Keep whisking and gritting your teeth to deal with the fact that the metal on metal sound now feels like it’s reverberating throughout your TMJ-ridden jaws.

Yum. At this point, make sure to take it off the heat so that it doesn’t burn. Lebovitz says to press the curd through a strainer, but if you’ve whisked diligently through the entire process, you shouldn’t have to. Mine looked plenty smooth when I bottled it up.

It will keep in the fridge for about a week, and longer, of course, in the freezer.

If you’re like me, all that whisking will leave your teeth seriously grind-y for the rest of the day but it’s so worth it. If you don’t whisk properly, you’ll get little cooked egg-y strands in your lemon curd (ew).

So there you have it folks. I may not be able to give you much advice about life’s lemons (because I’m having enough trouble with my own) but at least you now know what to do with actual lemons (of the actual citrus variety).

Yum.


* There are rarely tomatoes on this blog. There is, however, a lot of whining.
** Yeah, I was really worried that I was actually not going to pull this off because it was HELLA CLASSES. Those degrees are English and Art History, if anyone’s wondering what totally useless liberal arts degrees I opted for. Okay, let’s clarify – I do not think they are totally useless. But I’m pretty sure a good portion of the rest of the world does.
*** We’re talking dinner at a winery. Melt-in-your-mouth-good food and great wine too.
**** Security deposits and the poor selection of not-crappy one-bedrooms and studios in areas of Oakland that we would actually want to live in FOR THE LOSE.
***** It appears this is not actually a word. But hell with it, I’m using it anyway because “serendipity” is one of my favorite words. Ever. Also, if you haven’t seen the movie “Serendipity,” go watch it now. It’s a bad rom-com, but bad in the way that it’s so bad it’s good / worth it.
****** I don’t know why I said this. I would sound ridiculous saying this out loud, what with being a white country girl and all. Somehow, saying things in a blog makes them look less ridiculous than they would sound.
******* Last week, it was plentiful and delicious Chinese food. Tomorrow it will be pizza.


FOOD | Lemons, both as metaphor and as food, part 2 was published on June 30, 2011 in Blogs, Food

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