During a particularly trying time in my life, a summer filled with stress and drama, I bought myself a lemon tree.
They were half price by late July, so I also bought one for my mother. I had read in Oprah magazine that was the thing to do to cheer yourself up, a reminder of the old saying – when life hands you lemons make lemonade. (Oprah was always keen on the visual stuff). Of course, the photo in the magazine showed a smiling model beside a waist-high plant covered with big lovely lemons. Being optimistic, I expected that’s what I would be getting eventually, with some TLC.
I might also have been inspired by one of those posts which circulate from time to time on Facebook, a real estate ad depicting an abandoned Italian castle you could buy for cheap (it might even have been free) if you were willing to spent millions restoring it – an enormous stone monastery-like building which came with it’s own lemon grove. It was the lemon grove which appealed to me – I already owned a building which required extensive renovations.
I’ve never seen a lemon grove, but it must be lovely. I’ve passed orange groves on my way to Disneyland as a child, but never paid much attention. We don’t grow lemons here in Canada, our winters are way too cold to grow any kind of tropical fruit outside of a greenhouse. While my southern readers might be amused at my nativity, I had high expectations of being able to pick my own fruit. I envisioned making lemon cake from scratch using my own homegrown lemons.
My plant did smell heavenly – I placed it outside in a sunny spot, and made sure it got watered and fed regularly, and it rewarded me with fragrant flowers right on schedule. By fall when the nights started to get cooler, I brought it into the garage, and went they got downright chilly, it was brought into the house and placed in a sunny spot by the big front window. With such a prime view it should have been happy. By then it was covered with small green dots, which grew to the size of big green olives which then shriveled and dropped off one by one. My mothers did the same, so I know, it wasn’t anything personal, it just wasn’t able to adapt to the change in conditions. (It’s not like I expected a bumper crop or anything, but could not one or two of them have reached lemon-hood?)
Ah well, the best laid plans sometimes go awry, but I could just as easily buy shriveled-up lemons from the grocery store in the dead of winter if I needed to. If you’re looking for a moral/life lesson instead of food, this has definitely been the year for way laid plans and being adaptable to change, but if you are looking for recipes, I don’t have any to share this week because although I’ve tried multiple lemon recipes, with mixed results, nothing was worth bragging about.
I could never seem to get the right proportion of lemony flavor no matter how much zest I used, so I don’t bother experimenting anymore as I found an excellent Lemon-Curd Cake at the grocery store which can’t be beat. (sometimes the easy way out is the best….)
It has lemon curd in the middle so it’s in the frozen dessert section, which is a bonus as it keeps well and you can just slice off as much as you want, for company or not. Sometimes I add more lemon curd on top for an extra dollop of lemony goodness.
However, while lazing on the swing recently, reading the June issue of Victoria magazine,
I noticed a culinary feature on lemon and lavender,
And the lemon and lavender scones looked very tempting. Plus I just bought some creamed honey at the Farmer’s Market. They also sold a lemon-flavored creamed honey which I may get on my next trip.
And then there was this lemon tart – although decorating it with dried roses and sprigs of lavender does seem a bit over the top, my August garden yields plenty of both.
So many lemony-good recipes, so much time to experiment this summer, so yes, my own lemon grove would definitely come in handy. Best to pick up a couple of lottery tickets when I go to the store to get some lemons….
PS. My apologies for the somewhat deceiving title, see the Victoria magazine website for a recipe for lavender-lemonade. (link)