Puffy cumulus clouds on the horizon and above the band of blue spoke of welcome rain coming. This photo was taken yesterday while walking around the Bog; as I look outside my window now, rain is dripping down. I can almost hear the dry ground slurping it up. The earthworms will be happy, too.
A sharp wind blew, but once we were in the shelter of the trees in the Bog, it eased and the warmth of the sun penetrated instead of the chill. A flash of red caught my eye and we saw a very busy Downy Woodpecker drilling into a rather thin branch.
A bit farther along bright robins clustered in a tree just beginning to leaf out. In the distance, winter skeletons of trees show clouds of green haze around them in that delicate, yet bright shade of early leaves.
Lemons are plentiful in the grocery store just now, so a few came home with me to make Lemon Curd. I store it in the freezer in small jars. It's good on scones, toast, in tarts layered with fresh berries (soon they'll show up, too), or eaten by the spoonful. It's easy to make and here's the recipe I use. I adapted the method to ensure that it turns out reliably.
1/2 cup butter (the recipe says to use unsalted, but I rebel)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (I used 2 regular lemons and 1 Meyer lemon)
3 Tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
pinch of salt (omitted because of using salted butter)
6 large egg yolks
Melt the butter in a double-boiler set over barely simmering water.
Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. This is when you would add the salt, as well.
Add the egg yolks and whisk until smooth.
Place the double-boiler over the heat again, and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens. Make sure to scrape the corners of the pot well as you whisk. I occasionally run a silicone spatula around the edges to ensure that all of the mixture gets whisked. The mixture is done when it coats a wooden spoon and you can draw a line through it with another spoon.
Pour the lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Let cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally. Refrigerate, covered, until ready serve. OR pour into small jars (I used the half cup ones) and freeze.
Lemon Curd will keep for a month in the refrigerator and much longer (several months) in the freezer.
On Saturday morning Tim saw a flash of feathers swoop across the back garden before disappearing through the hedge. All the birds at the feeders scattered. The feathers flashed again and alighted on a fence so that we could identify it as a Sharp-Shinned Hawk. We don't often see them quite so low to the ground and wondered if there were some little critters in our garden that piqued his interest. He hung around for awhile before flying off again. It took awhile before the little birds felt brave enough to risk the feeder again.
I picked a little bouquet from my garden - hyacinths, muscari, a couple of frilly daffodils, and candy tuft. The green filler is lemon balm, now showing up everywhere!
Today in Foods class the students made chocolate cupcakes. It's such an easy recipe and it always turns out. Today, one group of students added 1/4 CUP of salt in place of 1/4 teaspoon. Oh my. I took a little taste and quickly disposed of it. Wretched! The girls (it was a group of girls) took it well, laughing about their mistake, and other students shared their cupcakes with them, so they at least got to have a treat.
Such a mistake reinforces to me how inept many young people are in the kitchen. I would have expected them to question that amount of salt in any dish, but especially baking. I am frequently surprised at how many students do not know the basics of cooking anything. By Grade 8 I was cooking entire meals, and there are still a few who do that, but it's not the majority any more. Life skills like these are so important, I think.
On the other side, to be fair, another student came up to show me a photo (on her phone) of a chocolate mousse cake she had made for her grandfather's birthday. She had decorated it with fresh fruit and it did look lovely. A cake to be proud of.
I'd better get this posted before the second week of April is gone! I hope Spring (or Autumn) is showing up for you wherever you live. I've seen photos of April snowfalls that would be a bit discouraging.
Happy April days to you!