Citrus fruits are the essence of refreshment and a culinary staple with its glorious colors, aroma, and taste. Citrus is clean, cool and fresh. It is sometimes tart and sometimes sweet, and infinitely adaptable to many cuisines. Think lemon meringue pie, duck a l’orange, lemon curd, orange marmalade, and tropical cocktails. The author, Ford Rogers grew up in Florida. He says that serving iced tea without a slice of lemon is “tantamount to blasphemy.”
Archeobotanists believe that the common ancestor to citrus as we know it sprang up in India, or possibly in the Tigris and Euphrates Valley, about 80 centuries ago. Citrus in ancient Egypt was used as an aphrodisiac and a cure for fever and colic. Romans used certain varieties of citrus to keep moths from their woolens. Citrus flowers are used today for potpourri. But the most popular way to use citrus is as a culinary ingredient.
This large-sized softcover cookbook was published in 1992. It has 55 recipes covering breakfast, appetizers, soup, salads, seafood, chicken, and other main courses, relishes and condiments, and refreshing beverages. They all sound heavenly. I love the condiment chapter with its marmalades, preserves, and chutneys, but can’t wait to try the lime spareribs with jalapenos, garlic, and fresh marjoram, which I just planted in my garden.
My thoughtful Mother knows how much I love lemons, and bought me a small Meyer lemon tree for my birthday last April. Everyone knows that citrus grows where the warm winds blow and the sun shines. Does that sound like the Midwest to you? Not hardly! More like where the tornados blow and snow is knee deep. I don’t have a greenhouse, and I certainly couldn’t leave it outside when it’s 20 below zero. When I first got the tree last April, it was so happy being outside and started to grow blossoms and even tiny little lemons were forming. But there is no stopping a Chicago winter, and I had to bring it inside before the lemons were large enough. I tended to it like a garden; watering and fertilizing it, but alas, all the blossoms fell off and it looked very scrawny and sad. It didn’t think it was going to make it. I put it outside as soon as the air warmed up this Spring, and you can see it now! These pictures were taken several weeks ago, and it has grown even more since then, with dozens of little lemons popping up, and the bees are all over it. I’m so excited! I don’t even know what I will make first with my new crop; definitely some lemon marmalade, and I will try some preserved lemons, which I have never attempted before. Lemon curd and pie are also a must, and I will incorporate all my lovely herbs in the garden somehow, like my daughter’s lemon-rosemary cookies. I love taking care of my lemon tree, because I think of my Mom every time I look at it. The tree is hearty and sweet, just like Mom, and I’m sure it will make it through many more Chicago winters.