Lemons in October

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It is unusual to have Meyer lemons ripe in the garden this time of year. Usually, December thru May they are plentiful and welcome. In winter’s darkest and coldest days, citrus is like a glimmer of sunshine. This spring, summer, and fall have been unusually warm in Sonoma county. For this reason, I am guessing we have these luscious lemons now. Thank you Mother Nature, for round two.

One of my favorite things to make with Meyer lemons is Madeline cookies. They are really petite sponge cakes, of French origin. Moist and fluffy, these little cakes are baked in a special shell-shaped pan. The underside will have lovely ridges, like a scallop shell. You can make them with or with out lemons, but when life gives you lemons in the fall, why not put them to good use?

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The recipe I use is from the Canadian chef Laura Calder. She has a cooking show on the Cooking Chanel, and has several cookbooks out. Her cookbook French Taste is one of my favorites. I believe she is living in Paris now, testing and gathering recipes.

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You will need a Madeline pan (you can find them at specialty cooking stores, like Sur la Table).

ingredients:

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

1 and 1/2 stick of butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup plus two Tablespoons sugar

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 Tablespoon honey

Zest from one lemon

4 eggs

* I added 2 teaspoons of vanilla

Grease Madeline tins and set in the freezer. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Sift together flour and baking powder. In a small saucepan, melt the butter, and stir in the sugar, honey, vanilla, and lemon zest. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Whisk into the flour mixture, careful not to over mix.

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Pour about 1/2 tablespoon into each mold and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cakes are puffed up and golden around the edges. Be careful not to over-fill the molds, otherwise you will end up with muffin tops, as these cakes puff up quite a bit. Let cool at least 5 minutes, then gently, using a knife or small spatula, ease them onto a cake rack to cool.

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This is what they look like straight out of the oven.

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This is what they look like when you turn them over. Almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

 

Other things going on in the garden….

When Bad Things happen to Good Veg Plants. Complete annihilation of all plants in the ground.

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The fall garden is not off to a good start. In fact, it may be over before it really got a chance to start. About four weeks ago, I planted several fall crops, Snowball cauliflower, Nero kale, and Savoy cabbage. Out of thirty plants, only nine remain unscathed, simply because they were planted up in half-wine barrels.

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It seems there was a stealth attack on the plants between the hours of 1-4pm today. Three hours of gorging, digging, and ripping. The perpetrators? All five of them? Oh yes, here they are now.

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Lucy, also known as Lou. She is at the top of the pecking order. She might be small, but she uses this to her advantage, to sneak under chicken wire and thru small spaces between boards. No doubt the others followed her lead.

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Matilda, aka Angry Bird. She is a grouch. Second in command in the pecking order. Watch out for this one, she WILL peck you. Her sister Paula Dean looks just like her, but is sweet. She is MIA. probably laying an egg.

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And the two young accomplices, aiding in the criminal activity. Abigale, aka Baby Hughie. Big and sort of dumb. She usually squawks really loud when she eats something good, I am surprised she didn’t blow their cover. And Buffy, in the foreground. She is usually a really good chick. It must have been peer pressure. These two are not even one yet, and already a life of crime.

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What should I do? Rip the plants all out and start over? Or see if the plants will recover and continue to grow? I need to calm down. These are just plants, after all. I can buy more. Maybe I should have fried chicken for dinner…

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Or maybe I will curl up in my favorite leather chair, and knit. It always seems to calm me down. Not sure what I am knitting here, it is just therapy at this point. There is nothing a cup of tea and a Madeline can’t cure.

 

May summer’s sun stay with you, like a dream.

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chicken and chard Do Not Mix

We had a little mishap in the garden today. Someone (me) evidently left the gate to veggie garden open this morning, after I harvested a bunch of stuff. I let the chickens out of their coop, as I normally do. I hauled my harvest inside and made breakfast. This is what the chard looked like before…

and this is what it looks like now.

Evidently chickens love chard as much as we do, but they do not like the stems. Well, at least the eggs will be extra rich in antioxidants and vitamins this week! Lucky for them I love their eggs so much.  Honestly, I was ready to kill the hens this afternoon. They shall now be known as “The Three Devil Chicks“.

My basket was full of produce today, still coming in strong are: peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and three types of summer squash. I have some onions too. The Rosa Bianca eggplants are almost too pretty to eat. Perhaps a ratatouille is in order. Maybe tomorrow.

I need to use the last of the chard that I picked before the mishap. Chard, eggs, zucchini, basil…frittata!

Here is an easy frittata recipe

9 eggs

salt and pepper

0ne or two tablespoons of olive oil

three handfuls of chard, chopped (or spinach)

handful of chopped basil or other herb

one medium zucchini, diced

handful of cremini mushrooms

one onion, diced

one garlic clove, minced

two Adele chicken sausages, cubed  (i like the one with pineapple)

handful of cheese (feta, parmesan or cheddar)

Preheat oven to 400F. Crack the eggs into a big bowl and whisk. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Get a frying pan on medium heat with enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Saute the cut sausages until brown. Remove. Next sauté the chopped zucchini, mushrooms, onions and garlic until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Put the sausage back in the pan. Throw in the chard and basil. Cook another 2 or 3 minutes, until the chard is wilted but still bright green.

Pour in eggs. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Mix to incorporate then let sit, do not stir. Cook until bottom and edges are set. When you can jiggle pan and only the middle is watery, put in the oven.

Keep and eye on it, It should take only about 7-10 minutes for the middle to set. When you pull out the pan and shake it, the middle should be set, not moving at all. It will look golden and delicious. Getting it out of the pan is tricky.

Let it cool in the pan on the counter for 10 minutes. Very gently, use a knife or spatula and work around the edges, to loosen the frittata on all sides. With spatula, go under and around to loosen as much as possible.

Get a plate ready, then lift pan and tilt it at an angle, slide the frittata carefully onto the plate. I like to eat mine with Sriracha hot sauce. Enjoy.