17 November 2008

Making lemon butter

Above is the garden leading to our closed gate. The star jasmine and agapanthus are really putting on a fine show after all the rain we've had lately.

The gate was closed early Friday afternoon and is still closed now. We were shut off from the outside world, both physically and emotionally, all weekend and had all that delicious time to do our chores, relax and appreciate this life we live. Oh, there was one little visitor, L from next door, our 13 year old neighbour, came over to buy a dozen eggs and chat a while. He's a quiet and gentle soul so it's always a pleasure to have him in my kitchen talking about school and life at the end of our lane way.

Aside from that brief visit, Hanno and I ambled through one chore after another, which were generously peppered with periods of knitting, reading, talking, tea drinking and planning. We are always planning! Will we take the tomatoes out this weekend? Where will we plant the next potatoes?

I had planned on making soap on the weekend and was all ready with the new soap mould Hanno made for me, but when it came to it, I had no coconut oil or copha, so I decided to do it next week. I always like to have extra soap on hand over Christmas so I have spare gifts for people forgotten about or who pop up out of no where. I have found that a gift of homemade vegetable oil soap and dishcloth is always appreciated. Most people see it as a quaint novelty from days gone by and it's only when they use them they realise how practical and lovely homemade items are.

I had promised lemon butter (curd) to my friend Bernadette, as she did some knitting for me, so out came the lemons, butter and eggs and 30 minutes later I had four small jars of lemon butter. Homemade lemon butter is one of the true joys of home cooking. The bright yellow colour you see in those jars below is from fresh eggs and butter, not from the colourings and preservatives they put in the commercial lemon butters. If you're new to jam making, try your hand at lemon butter. It's easier than jam and although there is 20 minutes of stirring, I know you'll be planning your second batch as soon as you taste it.

Makes 4 small cups

8 eggs
1½ cups white sugar
1 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
250 grams (½ pound) butter

Hint: you'll get more juice from lemons that have been picked the week before you want to use them.

Put the eggs and sugar in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir till the sugar is dissolved.

Add the lemon juice and rind, then the butter and whisk for about 20 minutes until the mixture is smooth and thick.

Do not allow the mixture to boil as that will spoil it. You want the mix to thicken well and for all the ingredients to be thoroughly mixed together.

When the lemon butter coats the back of a spoon without running off, it's ready.

Pour the butter into warm, sterilised jars and seal straight away.

Store in the refrigerator.

Theoretically, it will last for two or three months but in our home that never happens. Hanno and I have already polished off the small, not-quite-filled jar in the photo. :- ) It's delicious on toast, pikelets, pancakes, as a cake topping, in tart cases, or on muffins or fresh bread.

Hanno cut his own hair on the weekend and I tidied up the ends and back for him. He also did some gardening and laundry and cleaned out the chicken coop. I did some more work on the book, answered some emails (but I'm still behind), cleaned and took the time to visit some blogs. Our meals on both days were simple and quick. Leeks were harvested from the garden so we had leek and mushroom omelettes on Saturday and pea soup from the freezer on Sunday.

I started knitting a dishcloth using a 40% linen and 60% cotton yarn that is new to me. It knits well but is made up of fine strands of thread that tend to fall apart when it's been handled. I doubt I'll buy more of it because I had to watch every stitch. I also finished off another pair of fingerless gloves, this time with ribbed wrists. I'll blog about them later in the week and show a photo. I'm really pleased with them and have decided to do a few more pairs as gifts and to use up odds and ends of wool. They only take about three quarters of a ball and look really cute.

I was going to blog about the meter readings today but thought it was a better idea to do it tomorrow. By then all my northern hemisphere friends will have their readings and we'll we able to compare both the readings and solutions for reducing them. So don't forget to have your readings ready for tomorrow.

I hope your weekend was restful and productive and the week ahead is a good one for all of us.

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