Monday, February 28, 2011

Refreshing Lemonade

Last week I caught a's a bad one, so I decided to make some lemonade to get my needed vitamin C. 


3/4 cup sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4-5 cups of water


1)  Combine the sugar and one cup of water in a saucepan to make simple syrup.  Heat on low heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Allow to cool.
2)  Combine the simple syrup and the lemon juice and stir.  Add 3-4 cups of water to dilute the lemonade to taste.

How easy is that?  I like my lemonade on the tart side, but if you prefer it sweeter, add up to one more 1/4 cups of sugar.

For those of you who are keeping count...I gave 8 lemons to a friend who was visiting from New York and used 12 lemons here to get the required cup of lemon juice...this brings me to 7 left out of the 40 I picked two weeks ago.  I picked another large bag full yesterday though and there are tons left on the we've got more lemon recipes to come.  =)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lemon Buttermilk Pie

For some reason, it's difficult for me to find the pint sized buttermilk.  The grocery stores around here stock either the half pint, which is too little for most recipes, or a whole quart, which is always too much.  After making buttermilk pancakes on Saturday, I was left with more than enough buttermilk to try something else new...and the opportunity to use lemon #12.

A couple months ago, a friend of mine suggested that I check out a restaurant called Green Chile Kitchen in NoPA.  I thought the dinner part of the meal was just ok, but I had their lemon buttermilk pie, which they serve with a huge scoop of strawberry ice cream.  Delicious!  It tasted so fresh and summery.  I had never heard of lemon buttermilk pie before, but have since been told that it is popular in the southern part of the country. It is super easy to make, but so rewarding.

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup sugar, less 1 tablespoon
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
4 large eggs yolks
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
3/4 of the juice from the lemon you grated
1/4 teaspoon salt

Ice Cream, if you are so inclined.

1)  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2)  Blind bake the frozen crust for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.
3)  In a bowl whisk together the butter, the sugar, the buttermilk, the egg yolks, the flour, the vanilla, the zest, the juice, and the salt and pour the filling into the shell.  It's ok if the shell is hot.
3)  Bake the pie in the lower third of the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F, then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F, and bake the pie for 20 to 25 minutes more, or until the filling is set and golden. (I used a small toaster/convection oven.  I baked the pie at 350 degrees F for 23 minutes and then reduced the temperature to 325 degrees F for another 24 minutes.)  Let the pie cool on a rack and serve it at room temperature or chilled.

Don't forget the strawberry ice cream!  Haagen Dazs does it for me.  =)

I often cheat when it comes to pie crust.  Sometimes I use Trader Joe's frozen pie crusts and this time I used a Mrs. Smiths.  One of these days I'll master crust from scratch, but for some reason it always drops to the bottom of my priority list.  Perhaps I secretly fear it.

The pie was so tasty, that I made another for our neighbors to welcome their newborn daughter.  

Friday, February 25, 2011

Getting Ready for Baby

So what was I doing for the past few months while I seemingly abandoned ChunkyPineapple?  Well, the big announcement is that Mr. CP and I are expecting our first little one in June.  The first trimester was pretty uncomfortable with nausea 24/7, so I wasn't really up for blogging.  We're in week 25 now, so we're feeling better and much more energetic.
At week 20 - The sonographer decided to highlight the fact that it's a boy.
These days, I find myself checking on Craigslist for some used baby items now and then.  It's good for the environment to recycle and reuse and sometimes you really don't need something brand new.  Another benefit - the cost savings is enormous.  At the advice of others, in my spare time, I've also been trying to put together a registry, but it can be very overwhelming at times.  There are so many things you need to consider and so many different options out there!

Then there are the negotiations....Mr. CP is anti-changing table.  He doesn't see a need and thinks it will just take up space.  I've asked around and it turns out that a lot of people had one but didn't use it much or never got one at all, so we will probably just try to go without this piece of baby gear.  After all, I'm pretty sure that my parents raised three of us without one.

A crib, however, is probably something we will need to acquire.  There are about a million types, options and price points.  I'm tempted to take a chance to purchase something made of solid wood off at a discount through Craigslist, but then you run the risk of buying something that may have been the subject of a recall and the ever-present potential for bed bugs lurks in the background....ick.  What to do....what to do...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lemon Juice Cubes

We have so many lemons and so little time...enter our new electric citrus juicer which came highly recommended by my sister.  She uses it to make fresh squeezed orange juice for her weekly pancake parties.
Tribest Citrustar Electric Juicer
With this lovely kitchen gadget, I juiced nine lemons in nine minutes.  I didn't have to strain the juice or remove the pits and ended up with ten ice cubes.  I think next time, I'll measure out two tablespoons to each cube so that I can defrost the exact amount of juice that my recipes call for.  This juicer is a great time saver and now I'll be able to continue to make all kinds of lemony goodies even after the lemon harvest season ends.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A New Project

As I mentioned earlier this week, Mr. CP is building us a dining table, but before he has finished, I've already signed us up for another new project.  While I still have my eyes peeled for a Selig Z chair, a couple of weeks ago, we picked up these vintage mid-century teak Danish style lounge chairs from a local Ebay seller.  Unfortunately, the chairs don't have any labels to indicate who designed them or where they were made, but the style is clean and simple, the chairs are pretty comfortable, and it looks like it will be relatively easy to have them reupholstered.
We plan to use eco-friendly material for the cushions (i.e., latex foam or maybe old school wool).  Though it would definitely be more economical to use a high density polyurethane foam, we want to avoid added flame retardants and the chemicals that are off-gassed from polyurethane materials.  As for the upholstery material, I'll be on the hunt for something neutral and maybe tweedy, but not scratchy.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Our First Vintage Find

If you asked me 5 years ago how I would decorate a home, I would not have responded that I'd be on the hunt for vintage mid-century style looks.  However, as I started to look more closely at furniture and assess what hundreds of dollars can get you, it seems vintage mid-century pieces are a pretty good way to go.  The pieces tend to be very well made with solid wood and sturdy construction.  They've already been around for decades and still look great!

Our first vintage find is this set of four mid-century Eames H-base Shell chairs in orange.
I've seen these classic chairs in magazines and staged homes.  They come in a variety of colors, with pricing depending on how common or rare the color is.  Collectors and vintage furniture salespeople tell me that shades of blue and pink are the hardest to come by.  Mr. CP is in the process of designing and building us a beautiful solid walnut dining table and I think the rich color of walnut will look great with these chairs.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lemon Basil Shortbread Cookies

Yesterday, I used my second out of 40 lemons to make a batch of lemon basil shortbread cookies to share with a birthday boy and some friends.

1 cup white sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, near room temperature
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus slightly more, if needed – see below)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest, finely chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons freshly and finely chopped sweet basil leaves

1)  Let the butter soften to room temperature, then cut them into chunks and add them, along with the sugar, to the bowl of  a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well mixed.

2) Add the vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest, and basil, and beat on low until well mixed.

3)  Sift the flour and salt together, then start gradually adding it to the contents of the mixer bowl while the mixer running on low.  (I spooned the flour in slowly to prevent the mixer from spitting flour everywhere.)

Note:  Start with the 3 1/2 cups of flour,  but if that is not enough to pull the dough cleanly off the sides of the  bowl (you should not have any loose bits) sticking to the bowl – then  add just a sprinkle at a time until it does.

4)  Pull all the dough out of the mixer bowl and mold into a thick disc.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.  I like to roll out the dough in between to sheets of parchment paper so that it's already on the thin side before going into the refrigerator.  This makes it a lot easier to roll out the dough after it's firmed up.

5)   Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out so that it is about  1/2″ thick.  (If you left the dough in the fridge overnight, you may  have to give it half an hour or so before it’s able to be rolled out).  If you like thinner shortbreads, roll out the dough to somewhere between 1/4" and 1/2" and adjust the baking time accordingly.

6)  Use your favorite cookie cutter and cut the dough into cookies.

7)  Incorporate all the excess dough back into a ball, then a disc, then  roll out and repeat the cookie cutting.  If the dough starts to become  greasy, put it back in the fridge for about half an hour.

8)  Place the cookies directly onto a baking sheet, no greasing required.  In an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees, bake the cookies for about 20 minutes, until the edges start to brown nicely.

I baked my cookies in a small convection oven on the regular bake setting.  I baked the thicker 1/2" inch cookies for about 18 minutes and the thinner cookies for about 15 minutes for slightly browned edges.

9)   Wait for about a minute, then carefully remove the cookies onto a  cooling rack.

This recipe was adapted from one that I found on TheShoebox

The lemon and basil flavors are subtle but noticeable.  I think next time, I'll add a tad bit more lemon juice and lemon zest.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

40 Lemons

It was time to raid the lemon tree again...I had done a few small harvestings before, but this time, in order to avoid letting the lemons go to waste by growing too large, I picked about 40 lemons.  In total, I think I've probably only taken about 1/3 of this year's fruit!
This is our lemon tree after I picked the lemons.  It's hard to see, but there are a lot more hiding in the back and amongst the leaves.
Last month, I brought about two dozen lemons into work to share with friends and colleagues.  This month, I am going to try to use as many as possible in various types of recipes.  I also plan to freeze lemon juice into cubes.  A friend of mine told me they will keep in the freezer for about a year.
We did not spray pesticide or use fertilizer on our tree, but still use a biodegradable fruit and vegetable wash to clean them.
All clean!

As a result, you'll be seeing a lot of lemon related recipes and uses here.  =)

This morning, I made lemon ricotta pancakes with fresh blueberries.  I didn't have good lighting so I do not have any photos to share, but the recipe is below. 
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt 
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 handfuls of fresh blueberries 
Butter, for griddle

1)  Preheat a nonstick griddle.

2)  Combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Whisk together the cheese, eggs, milk, blueberries, lemon juice and zest in a large bowl. Whisk the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until just combined.

3)  Brush the hot griddle with butter.

4)  For each pancake, pour approximately 1/4 cup measure of the batter on the griddle and cook on both sides until light golden brown. 

(Adapted from Bobby Flay of the Food Network)

I served my pancakes with homemade lemon curd that I prepared with my last batch of lemons.  They also taste great with real maple syrup.  Enjoy!