Life doesn’t give me lemons, as many of you already know. But friends do.
mentioned before, I’ve killed my share of lemon trees over the years. This winter, I was tempted to try again. I have a little more time now that my kids are older. Surely, I reasoned, I would find time to water a small lemon tree.
But then it became clear that we were going to have to make difficult water rationing decisions in summer. Watering tomato plants or showering? Does my beloved relic water climbing pink or shower? This does not seem like the time to try your luck in lemon cultivation once again.
Also, one of my suppliers flatly told me I can’t. She likes to bathe me with lemons. I tell him I can use some, and a fragrant bag of lemons appears on my door. I’m so used to having an abundant supply provided by dear friends that I sometimes forget I don’t have a tree, and I’m surprised when I rummage through my fridge and can’t find a lemon for a recipe.
Whether you’re enjoying an ample harvest or the bounty of your friends’ trees, sooner or later, you’ll be tempted to make lemonade. And while it may seem simple enough to start with lemon juice and add sugar and water to taste, several Plates readers offer tastier alternatives.
In response to a request from Mary Lou Breithaupt, readers Diana Bauer, Nora Elderton, and Lisa Scott-Ponce submitted similar versions of a vintage lemonade syrup recipe. Scott-Ponce found the recipe in a 1957 Betty Crocker cookbook. Elderton received the recipe in the mid-1960s, and Bauer found it in his 1964 “Joy of Cooking.”
Sugar, water and thin strips of lemon peel are boiled along with a little salt to make the syrup. The recipe calls for the peel of two lemons, but Elderton doubles the lemon peel. “I like to take them out of the syrup and eat them as a gift,” he says.
Bauer and Scott-Ponce offer a couple of alternative ways to use the syrup, so I’ve included both.
Breithaupt recalled a lemonade recipe from “Food for Fifty,” a book used in his home economics days at San Jose State. Claire Waago Sauer offered a version of the book that produces three gallons. I pondered the usefulness of sharing a three-gallon lemonade recipe, the recipe simply offers the ratios of lemon juice to sugar and water, and then realized that I could have used this recipe several times while serving groups. And after all, I know where I can find about 30 lemons when I need them.
Halo dessert In response to a request for healthy dessert recipes, Plates regular Ann Begin shared her favorite “by the seat of your pants.” He likes angel food cake with macerated fruit. “It tastes very decadent, but low in calories and with a lot of nutrients,” says Begin.
Start with a fruit that is in season, often using peaches, nectarines, or berries. She cuts larger fruits into 1/2-inch pieces, but leaves the berries whole. She sprinkles the fruit with granulated sugar to taste, then adds a complementary citrus zest. He likes lemon zest with his peaches and orange with strawberries. She will cut the citrus fruits in half and squeeze some of the juice over the fruit, mixing well and letting the fruit sit in a bowl on the kitchen counter. “Stir every 10 minutes or so for the first hour, until the sugar starts juicing out the fruit,” Beman says. She tastes acidic, adds sugar if necessary, then spoons the sweet mixture over angel food cake.
“I do things according to the taste of this, so it’s always a little different and delicious,” he says.
Connie Molino sends rave reviews for Ann Tompkins’ Tex Mex slow cooker chicken recipe. “It was wonderful. In fact, I’ve done it twice,” says Molino. “I would really like to find more recipes for the little slow cooker.”
Have any of you tried freezing the muffin dough in individual portions, and then putting the muffins in the oven as needed? Do you have muffin dough recipes that resist refrigeration well? Please share your secrets and advance preparation recipes.
Send recipes and requests to Kim Boatman at [email protected]. Find recent Home Plates recipes online at www.mercurynews.com/home-plates.