Citrus in Bloom

“The Murmuring of Innumerable Bees”

MJ’s mastery of citrus continues, as we have two Meyer lemons that are completely covered in blooms, at least three hundred to five hundred blooms or so. People don’t associate the Appalachians with citrus, but just bring them indoors in containers in the winter (Goethe wrote that they did the same thing in Germany, and that was over two hundred years ago). We’ll end up with only a few lemons, but we usually have enough to last us most of one year, until the next crop comes in. We freeze the surplus.

Key Lime Pie Waiting to Happen

The Key Lime is our most reliable producer of fruit, and we have had over 150 limes in one year, from just his one plant. We still have a bag full of these in the freezer. Beer with lime, anyone?

Orange Blossom Special

The Satsuma Mandarin Orange is the least productive of the plants, but the smell of the blooms is spectacular. This is grown widely on the Gulf Coast, as it is quite hardy for a citrus. There is even a town called Satsuma in south AL. The best Satsumas come from Plaquemines Parish in LA, which is just south of New Orleans. They even have their own Orange Festival.

Finally, MJ has some cuttings of Meyer Lemon started, and she doles those out to her family. All I can say is that growing citrus from cuttings is not for people with short attention spans. MJ has a waiting list of more than one year.

Peach Bourbon Glaze

Peach Glazed Galette

This is more of a cooking exercise than anything else, as this glaze has only three ingredients. They happen to be two of the South’s finest products, which make this a perfect match for the apples and pecans in the galette. It’s all about the process.

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons Peach Preserves

2 Tablespoons Bourbon

Water

The key to this glaze is choosing a happy medium. Cook the glaze long enough to get rid of the alcohol in the bourbon, and to partly liquefy the peaches, but not so long that it dries out or turns into peach brittle.

The other key is to find a really high quality Peach Preserve. I just made my own last summer, using local peaches, organic sugar, and lemon juice (we grew the lemons). This was a fitting way to say goodbye to the last two tablespoons.

I always get this too thick, so a kettle of water is nearby, to help get the glaze to the proper consistency. Once it’s done, you just need some pastry to glaze.

Just Right

I should say that the citrus master, my wife Melanie Jane, has been “rusticated” by the giant corporation she works for, and is currently working from home, due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. She had to bring all her tech with her. We now have a home office consisting of three computers, four monitors, and two iPads. It’s a great sacrifice to live as primitively as this. We have had to make up for it by cooking up a storm.

Cranberry Sauce with Pumpkin Pie Spice

How it Starts

Here’s what you do with that pumpkin pie spice that’s been in the spice cabinet for two years, other than poisoning a good cup of coffee with it. Cranberries make a formidable opponent for any seasoning mix, but it turns out to be a fair and delicious fight. Above is how it starts.

Ingredients

12 ounces fresh Cranberries

1 cup Water

Juice and pulp of one Lemon (we use Meyer lemons)

1 cup organic Sugar

Pumpkin Pie Spice

There’s not much to cooking this other than not letting it burn. Boil for 10-15 minutes, depending on how thick you want the sauce. After ten, it will look like this:

Moderately Thick

I wait until mine jells. Here’s the final result.

Be careful with the spice, as it becomes stronger after the sauce chills in the fridge. As a point of reference, cranberries actually grow in the South, in West Virginia, in the famous Cranberry Glades botanical area. Unfortunately, most of those berries are eaten by bears. I’ve been within ten feet of one there.

Remoulade Sauce, Two Ways

Remoulade sauce in the South is used on everything from salads to shrimp. I make two versions, one for salads, and one for mostly seafood dishes, including the fabulous fried catfish po boy. We’ll start with the simple version.

Ingredients

Mayonnaise

Dijon Mustard

Ketchup

Lemon Juice

Salt

I usually only make enough of this for one meal at a time, so I stick to a ratio of four parts of mayo to one part each of mustard, ketchup, and lemon, and then salt to taste. A sweet Bavarian mustard is also excellent in this, if you can find it. You can also add sweet pickle relish.

And then there is the savory version:

Ingredients

Mayonnaise

Creole Mustard

Ketchup

Lemon Juice

Salt

Dill Pickle, chopped finely

Scallions, chopped finely

Parsley, chopped

Capers, chopped

Tabasco Sauce, to taste

This one is more traditionally Southern, as it has some kick to it, hot, salty, and sour. I just made some fermented Garlic Dill Pickles, and I can’t wait to add some of those to this recipe. Proportions of the four main ingredients should be roughly the same as the first version, and the others are a matter of taste. I go light on the pickles and capers.

I have all the makings for a fried catfish po boy for this upcoming holiday weekend, except for some good Carolina Classic catfish. Time for a run to the market.

Pear Honey

Great Pear

As far as is known, the Roman writer Pliny the Elder published the first pear recipe, where he stated that they should be stewed with honey. Modern pear honey recipes omit the honey, but I’m going old school all the way back to the Roman Empire. I’m bringing back the honey.

Ingredients

6 Bartlett Pears, peeled, cored, and sliced

1 Meyer Lemon

1/4 cup Honey

2 cups Sugar

My six pears cost a whopping two bucks at the Festhalle Farmer’s market, and the honey was local as well. My wife Melanie Jane grew that enormous Meyer lemon, and the sugar came from Sugarland, Texas: old school and down home.

I began with cooking the honey, sliced pears, and the complete interior of the Meyer lemon, minus the seeds. Hint: if you freeze the lemon first, and then cut it in half, the peel comes off all in one piece. Add the sugar, and get ready to go do something else.

A Saucier full of Pears

Cooking Time

2 1/2 Days (Correction: 2 1/2 Hours)

This would be an excellent time to go and write some on that novel that you have been putting off, which is something of a shameless plug, as I am half way through writing a novel that deals with food and mental therapy. To me, good food is the best therapy around.

Don’t forget to stir this occasionally, especially toward the end of the cooking, as it turns into pear syrup. After two and a half hours I brought out our most medieval potato masher, and turned this into the consistency of a really thick honey. All that was left was three half pints, processed in a hot water bath.

The Color You should Look for

It appears those Romans were pretty smart after all.