Monday, April 08, 2019

This and That in the First Week of April

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. 

Lemon Curd
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! 


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the walk to the big a lot , I felt I was right there, I make lemon curd the same way! I keep it in the freezer too, I'm glad the girls all got to have cup cakes lol , that was a lot of salt !

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the walk to the big a lot , I felt I was right there, I make lemon curd the same way! I keep it in the freezer too, I'm glad the girls all got to have cup cakes lol , that was a lot of salt !

Marilyn Miller said...

I had to smile at the cooking class story. I did take cooking in junior high, but just didn't like cooking. When I got married I suddenly realized I had to cook and didn't even know how to make breakfast eggs. My trusty cookbook, a wedding gift, was a life saver.
Your spring looks just wonderful. Lemon curd definitely is lovely in the spring. I came across a rose water cake recipe that has lemon curd in between the layers, thinking this might be fun for Easter. It is in the new Victoria Magazine issue.

GretchenJoanna said...

Is a bog like a slough? One summer I used to ride my bicycle home from work at 11 p.m. through the slough next to the university where I attended. It smelled SO wonderful!! A gazillion plants, I guess, and all that water...

I was just today looking at a big bag of lemons in my fridge and thinking: Lemon Curd!! I received a bag of Meyer lemons for my birthday, and soon I am visiting my citrus-rich siblings who may send me home with more. Lemon curd makes one of the nicest gifts, I think.

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

What a pretty bouquet. I also was cooking full meals by 8th grade....

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

We just saw one of those hawks for the first time a month or so ago! How neat to see your photo. I love the little Downy too. I taught myself to cook and I made so many mistakes...not using common sense! Hopefully these girls will learn now and enjoy cooking from now on. Kids should be cooking some in the home...while they are young! Hugs!

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Beautiful photos, the robin could sign as a bird model.
Cooking class was a favorite because we were taught the basics of cooking. Our teachers was very keen on the exact way to measure that I remember to this day.

Changes in the wind said...

Your flower bouquet is very pretty and all the birds but wouldn't be happy with the hawk about. Have never had Lemon curd:) but then I don't eat scones either, maybe I should give them a try.

ellen b. said...

Fabulous photos! Love that photo of the hawk you captured. My mouth is watering for some lemon curd on anything. :) Maybe a scone. We just got a couple dozen fresh eggs from our son's chickens so I really should try your lemon curd recipe!

Margie said...

I've never tried lemon curd, but would love to try it with scones. Today, we had another tea social at work and one of my co-workers brought yummy lemon cupcakes. I will share pics next week!

kathy b said...

Absolutely beautiful photographs. The hawk is so amazing! I love to see them!!
Lemon curd is a weakness of mine!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I do love to see robins return and all the other birds of summer.

A 1/4 cup of salt! Yikes! I've left out sale in a recipe by mistake, but never put too much. My mother was not a very creative cook--she did not like cooking at all, so in a way that made my brothers and I good cooks as we often took over the chore from her and we tried new recipes all the time. When I married my husband I made an effort to learn all his favorite Italian dishes. My problem is like food too much..haha!

Angie said...

Lorrie - I first tasted Lemon Curd when I lived in the UK, and it is still one of my favorite spreads for bread of any type. Of course, my husband loves it as well, being from the UK, so we are going to give it a try the next time we are cooking together. Love the picture of the hawk!

Coastal Ripples said...

A post full of loveliness. You have inspired me with you lemon curd. Time I got busy. B x

Mary said...

Oops! I wrote a comment yesterday but looks like it didn't post. Blogger is still not quite up to par around these parts, frustrating.
Love lemon curd, used to make it with mother as a girl - along with her other great jams, apricot and Victoria plum. Learned to cook/bake early and, like you, could rustle up a 3-course meal at an early age, and still enjoy cooking more than eating out!

Lovely post Lorrie.

Brenda @ Its A Beautiful Life said...

I so enjoyed your newsy post today, Lorrie. A little of this and that. Your lemon curd sounds delicious and thank you for the recipe. Your downy woodpecker makes my heart happy. They are such lovely birds. We have a pair that come to the feeders in winter. And tend to drill on our deck posts. Haha And then the American Robin -- I heard the tweet of my first robin of the season last night -- it was a heart cracker. Those hawks sure know how to make a flock scatter into the bushes. We see that on occasion in our backyard. It gets so still then. And quiet. One kestrel stayed in our yard for several hours once, hoping for a chance at a stray sparrow, but I think he went away unsuccessful. I was glad for the sparrow but sorry for the hawk.

Wishing you a beautiful day, Lorrie.
Brenda xox

Sue said...

What a delightful post, Lorrie, I thank you for the lemon curd recipe, will copy it as i have been looking for one.
Your photos are spectacular! The story of the salt incident was priceless, It is great that the friends took it with a " grain of salt", pun intended. ~smile~I agree it is amazing to me that so many young folks don't know how to cook, I have been baking and cooking since I was very young too!
Thank you for visiting and for your sweet comment.

Judy said...

Smiling here about the salty cake! Basic life skills have given way i-phone skills, it seems. Thanks for the lemon curd recipe. I think I will try it!

Lowcarb team member said...

Beautiful blue sky.
Beautiful birds.
Beautiful flowers.

Many thanks for the recipe too :)

All the best Jan

Denise at Forest Manor said...

Hi Lorrie,

Wow, that was some hawk!! Poor little birds; I would scatter too if I were in their place. I love to see the woodpeckers at our feeders. They don't visit as often as they used to because some animal has been raiding our feeders, and they seem to stay empty all the time. Sigh.

Oh, your flower bouquet is SO beautiful! I would love to be able to walk out my door and pick such a bouquet. Yes, I love the look of those delicate, new green leaves every spring. I told Hal they look like baby leaves. :D

I hope you have a great week, Lorrie, and enjoy your lovely spring!



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