Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Sarah Galvin

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Savoring the Season: Making Lemonade

Lemonade is iconic of summertime in America.  So, why would I post a recipe for fresh lemonade in the dead of winter when most of the country is in a deep freeze?  The reality is that lemons are a winter fruit  (grown in warmer parts of the country) and now is the time to enjoy fresh homemade lemonade.

I used my Meyer lemons that I harvested this season from my backyard tree.  Meyer lemons are not as "mouth puckering" as other varieties and is believed to be a cross between a Lisbon or Eureka lemon (most common in the grocery store) and a mandarin orange. This makes for a slightly sweeter lemon that has more floral notes and is perfect for lemonade.

Would you believe that I have never made fresh homemade lemonade?  Never, until recently.  There is no turning back, I am hooked.  This will make a beautiful addition to our Sunday Supper gatherings.

Perfect Lemonade
Serves 6
Recipe from Simply Recipes

1 cup sugar (can reduce to 3/4 cup)
1 cup water for the simple syrup
1 cup fresh lemon juice 
3 to 4 cups cold water to dilute

1.  Make simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely.

2.  While the sugar is dissolving use a juicer to extract the juice from 4-6 lemons, enough for one cup of juice.

3.  Add the juice and the sugar water to a pitcher.  Add 3-4 cups of cold water, more or less to the desired strength.  Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes.  If the lemonade is still a bit sweet add more lemon juice.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Alvaro Martinez-Fernandez

Friday, January 17, 2014

Savoring the Season: Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Soup in my world is fundamental.  It is basic, real and soulful.  My love affair with soup may be because simply stated Soup can just happen.  It can be made from almost anything leftover bits of meat, veggies, discarded celery tops, a handful of beans or pasta woven together in a broth, it just works, and is almost always good.

This is a Greek inspired soup that delivers on simplicity and flavor.   A rich lemon herb infused stock with chicken, orzo pasta, carrots, celery and greens.  Damn, it is good.  Be smart and double-batch this recipe.

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
Recipe from Prevention
Serves 8

1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
4 carrots, halved length-wise and chopped
3 ribs celery halved length-wise and chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3- 32 oz boxes (12 cups) low sodium, chicken stock
1lb. cooked chicken ( I used chicken breast but a small rotisserie chicken would work)
8-ounces orzo pasta
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
Zest from one lemon
Black pepper, to taste
8-oz. baby spinach ( I used kale with good results)

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat oil on medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots and celery.  Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, and the onions become translucent.  Add in the garlic, and cook for another minute or so.  Add in thyme, bay leaf, oregano and pepper.  Cook for another 30 seconds or so, and add in the broth.  Bring to a boil and then partially cover and turn down to a simmer.  Cook until the vegetables are just soft, about 5-6 minutes.

Add in the pasta, lemon juice, lemon zest. Stir.  Simmer 7-8 minutes.

Add in the cooked chicken.  Allow to heat through.  Stir in the baby spinach and allow to get wilted in hot broth.  Remove bay leaf and serve.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wordless "Winter" Wednesday

Photo submitted by Beth Hayes (Duncan, British Columbia)

Photo submitted by Jon Rhodes (Gainesville, Florida)

Photo submitted by Lin Classon (Chicago, Illinois)

Photo submitted by Michael Buckley (Canmore, Alberta Canada)

Photo Submitted by Michael Buckley (Canmore- Alberta Canada)

Photo submitted by Corinne Harrington- (Indiana)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tallahassee Style-Meyer Lemon Limoncello Liqueur

We had to harvest all our Meyer lemons when the "polar vortex" decided to visit the sunshine state.  We have one tree about 8-10 feet tall, that must be planted in just the right location because this tree has provided this season at least 500 healthy Meyer lemons.  My fingers are crossed that the freeze damage to my citrus tree is minimal and that it can recover.

I have spent the season discovering new ways to enjoy my Meyer lemons.  I promised to share my lemons more this season, with family and friends, and I did. I promised to find new ways to use my lemons, and I did.  Now, shut the front door! Because I also learned how to make booze with my Meyer lemons. An Italian liqueur called limoncello.

There are two schools of thought on making this Italian classic liqueur.  You can use vodka or grain alcohol.  A follower took the liberty to school me to ensure that I used grain alcohol.  The reasoning is that the grain alcohol has a higher proof, and increases the ability of the alcohol to draw out the insoluble oils in the lemon peel.  In theory, this produces a richer lemon flavor.  I had so many lemons, that I made it both ways. To play it safe my recipe below uses grain alcohol.

When I went to check on my resting liquor containers (ready 1/24) an observation was made that batches using grain alcohol was already a deeper yellow.  The vodka batch was a paler yellow.  The jury is still out because taste still matters.  No matter at the end of the day I have 13 quarts limoncello to enjoy ice cold with family and friends.

The lemon peels starting their journey to limoncello heaven macerating in the grain alcohol.

Straining the macerated alcohol and discarding the peels. 

The final resting place for another month.

Meyer Lemon Limoncello
Recipe from Foodista

15 Meyer Lemons, Organic
2 bottles Everclear Grain Alcohol, 750 ml each
6-1/3 cups water
2- 1/3 lb. (4 cups plus 2/3 cups) of fine white granulated sugar
2 large storage containers or glass jars. I used 2-quart  mason jars
Stock pot big enough for alcohol and sugar water
Large hand held mesh strainer


Step One:

1.  Peel lemons carefully with a vegetable peeler into long strips.  Do not peel the white pith of the lemon.

2.  Place the strips of lemon peel in your containers and distribute evenly

3.  Pour the Everclear over the lemon peels and cover tightly to macerate for two weeks.

4.  Store away from direct sunlight, preferably in cool dry place

5.  Let it rest undisturbed for TWO WEEKS

Step Two:

6.  Heat the water and add the sugar, stirring until it is all dissolved.  Let  cool for about an hour.

7.  Strain the liquor removing the lemon peels, into the sugar water pot.  Discard lemon peels.

8.  Decide if you want to re-use the same storage containers or bottles for your final month of rest.

9.  Return the liquor to the container of your choice and rest again for another month.

10.  After the long month, your Limoncello is ready!

It is best stored in the freezer and drank cold. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wordless "Winter" Wednesday

Photo submitted by Maureen Brady-Johnson (Ohio)

Photo submitted by Melissa Gerbrandt-Heath (Alberta-Canada)

Photo submitted by Christo Gonzalez Manhattan (Astor Place), New York

Photo submitted by Beverly at Bee Heaven Acres (Central Pennsylvania)

Photo submitted by Sarah Galvin  (Moosejaw, SK)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Destination San Juan Puerto Rico

My mantra is to say "Yes" more often than I say "No"   This leads us on occasion to travel destinations simply because without further thought we said "Yes".

Surrounded by the Caribbean and the Atlantic oceans and easily lured by the pristine beaches and tropical weather it is easy to imagine why you would easily say "Yes" to Puerto Rico.

Our ideal travel experience is discovering the local culture, food and the neighborhoods.  We take the opportunity to walk, and walk some more.  We enjoy being part of the local community and shy away from the tourist crowds.

We visited the local Farmers Market on a hot humid Saturday morning where citrus was front center.

 A local artisan cheese maker who produced a delightful semi-hard sheep's milk cheese.  We purchased a small wedge of her cheese, a baguette, a few slices of cured meat and fruit and called it lunch.

A small farmer selling his fresh plantains to the local restaurants that lined the cobblestone alley way of our rented loft. Our loft faced the back of a busy restaurant and it was a rare experience for us to be able to gleam restaurant life from their back door.

Love the Spanish colonial neighborhoods in San Juan. 

A refreshing local drink that is often sold by street vendors was Agua Frescas literally translated means "Fresh Waters"  A blend of pureed fruit, water, a squeeze of lime juice and a hint of sugar.  To say these refreshing drinks were delicious would be an understatement.  They were thirst quenching in the tropical heat of the afternoon.

You can easily make Agua Frescas at home and any ripe fruit is fair game.  My favorite on the island was a watermelon fresca which I enjoyed immensely.  

Watermelon-Lime Agua Fresca
Serves 4

2 pounds seedless watermelon
1 cup cold water
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 tablespoon simple syrup or agave nectar


For the simple syrup: Mix 1/4 cup water with 1/4 cup sugar.  Bring to boil over medium-low heat and simmer without stirring, until all the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat, add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs ( e.g basil or mint).  Let steep for 15 minutes until flavor has infused the syrup.

Blend all ingredients, adjusting sweetness as needed.  Strain through a mesh strainer or cheesecloth (optional).  Serve over ice.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Winter Salad with Lemon Yogurt Dressing

Over indulging in holiday foods begins in October with Halloween candy.  I  move through  Thanksgiving and Christmas without missing a beat.  The cakes, candies and desserts have my full attention and the idea that only one trip to the holiday buffet table is adequate is blasphemous.  By the end of December there is only one way to describe how I am feeling GROSS!

My return to normal usually starts with craving lighter and healthier foods. This means an increase in veggies and fruits. Suddenly as if seeing the light, I find the idea of leaving the table not stuffed to the gills a pleasant feeling.

This winter salad is everything that you imagine....It is healthy, delicious and filling.  The salad can be eaten as a side to soup or sandwich or as the main entree.  Either way you will not be disappointed.

Happy New Year!

Winter Salad with Lemon Yogurt Dressing
Serves 4 Main Course/Serves 8 Side Dish
Recipe from Epicurious


1 cup whole milk plain yogurt
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup avocado oil or canola oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, pressed
Fine sea salt

8 cups coarsely chopped, romaine lettuce (about 8 large leaves)
1-1/2 cups, 1/2-inch cubed peeled jicama
2 small carrots thinly sliced into rounds
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup 1/2-inch cubes kohlrabi or peeled broccoli stems
3/4 cup canned chickpeas, drained
3/4 cup halved pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds


Whisk first 5 ingredients into a small bowl.  Season dressing with fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Toss lettuce and next 8 ingredients in large bowl.  Add dressing and toss to coat. Divide salad among plates; sprinkle with sunflower seeds.