...if you have a backyard and a kitchen, this blog might be for you!

a chronicle of tips and recipes on everything from gardening to canning and baking your produce, even if you're planted in suburbia...in fact, especially if you are planted in suburbia.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Something Old, Something New

 I don't know it if was yesterday's visit to the Victorian tea house or what, but today as I sat at the dining room table having my morning coffee and doing my typical morning menu planning and correspondence, I thought about how such morning work is a classic feature in old novels like those penned by say Daphne du Maurie or a Bronte sister.  Nowadays, however, that correspondence happens on an iPhone and the menu is written with a mechanical pencil if it's put to paper at all.  And, any blotting that might happen won't involve ink, more likely it involves spilled coffee. 

One of the things that had sparked my curiosity yesterday at the tea house was a recipe for lemon curd.  We were served some very flavorful lemon curd with our scones, and I wondered how hard the stuff was to make.  I thought I remembered having an old cookbook with a lemon curd recipe so I went digging through my old cookbooks and did find the recipe in a book simply titled Basic Home Preserving, a book published a generation ago.
 It called for putting butter, Castor--or superfine-- sugar, pared rind and juice of 6 large lemons, and 8 beaten eggs in a double boiler to cook, followed by straining into a clean bowl, discarding the rind, returning to the double boiler and cooking again for 35 to 40 minutes until it is the consistency of curd.

But this recipe seemed to be awfully time-consuming and labor-intensive...not an uncommon feature with older recipes. So I checked my Ball Blue Book to see if a similar recipe might be included there.  Sure enough, in the freezer foods section of the book, a different recipe was given for lemon curd.  This one only had one slightly unusual direction:  pressing 6 large egg  yolks through a sieve to make sure all the whites are removed.  Then, sugar, lemon juice and lemon peel are whisked into the egg yolks and the mixture is put over medium heat where it is constantly stirred with a wooden spoon and cooked until the curd coats the back of the spoon.  This should only take about 20 minutes.  Butter is stirred in at the last, stirred until it melts, and then the curd is placed in freezer jars and chilled until the mixture sets, maybe an hour or so.  Finally, pop them in the freezer and you are finished.

The point is, home preserving allows much room for variation.  Some of the more complex recipes may have greater depth of flavor, but the simpler versions may well be worth the choosing...
...especially if you want to allow a little time for other things, like arranging some cut flowers to grace your sitting room or taking a half hour to work on that baby blanket you're crocheting for a friend.

Happy choosing!

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