Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April Conservation Tip

Yummy Lemon Curd

I just recently made a batch of lemon curd. Fascinated by it's golden color, I could not resist to photograph my result and "boast" it on facebook. To my very surprise it got a lot of likes...and the request for sharing the recipe. The idea for the April Conservation Tip was born.

In a recent discussion I was asked why I share recipes for homemade goods in my conservation tips, shouldn't we rather save the rain forest instead of preparing food at home.
Well, I think I'm doing just that...
By preparing homemade food, I'm saving food miles, I can avoid GMO, I know exactly what is in the pot and I can support local and/or organic farmers. Just as example, by offering my family homemade "Nutella" and lemon curd as spreads we have an alternative to products containing palm oil. This very directly saves the rainforest!

This 11 year old student also makes a very clear why we should pay more attention to what we eat in his short presentation:

Ok, enough lecturing, let's make the lemon curd!

You will need:

4 (large) to 6 ((small) lemons, (organic) Meyer lemons are especially tasty for this recipe
zest of two lemons
1/2 cup / 125 g butter, try homemade butter 
1 1/2 cup / 375 g sugar, how about organic fair-trade?
4 eggs, well beaten, nothing will beat my girls' eggs, but organic, free range should do, too...;-)

The Meyer lemon is a citrus fruit originally coming from China and is thought to be a cross between a true lemon and either a mandarin or common orange. It is not quite as sour as a normal lemon and will give the lemon curd a wonderful aroma.

In addition to normal household items, a double boiler and a zester or microplane come in handy. If you don't have a double boiler, a smaller pot put into a bigger pot with simmering water will do, too. Just be careful to not spill water in the curd or on your hands.

Zest the lemons, although you only need the zest of two lemons for this recipe, I always zest all the lemons and freeze the left-over zest to use it later for baking or cooking.
Squeeze the lemons.
In the double boiler melt the butter, slowly add the lemon juice and the zest. Once mixed, add the sugar. When the sugar has dissolved add the very well beaten eggs slowly under constant stirring into the mixture.
Now "cook" the curd for 15 to 30 minutes over barely simmering water. Stir occasionally. The curd will slowly but surely thicken. In the end it should be smooth and creamy. Fill in sterilized jars and seal immediately.

Once completely cooled down I store the curd in the refrigerator. The lemon curd will be good for a couple of weeks. Since lemon curd also freezes very well, I usually double the recipe and then freeze what I think we won't eat within the next weeks.
Depending on the size of your lemons and eggs this recipe will result in about 3 to 4 cups of curd.
The curd is delicious on toast, bagels and all other kinds of baked goods, goes well over fruit sorbets and gives a smoothie a nice tang.


Thanks to From the Ground Up for going that extra mile and ordering the Meyer lemons for me!
Recipe adapted from: Art of Preserving by Jan Berry

To find out how to make homemade Nutella, butter and toast, just click on the underlined links in the text.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Harbinger of Spring

The Pulsatilla 

After we moved here in the middle of winter some years ago, this little beauty was the first flower to greet me after those long cold months. Ever since then the Pulsatilla has a special place in my heart. Spring has arrived, at least for me, once I spot the first ones.
This spring they seem to be especially abundant and I decided to dedicate a blog just to them and put together of my favorite images and some interesting facts about the Pulsatilla for you to enjoy!

 Frost resistant, but not an early riser...

The Pulsatilla has many names, pasque flower, prairie crocus, wind flower and meadow anemone to name a few. It officially belongs to the family of Ranununculaceae and the genus Pulsatilla, which is by some considered a subgenus of the Anemone....

All of the 33 species of Pulsatilla are herbaceous but highly toxic perennials, some of them are used in herbal remedies and homeopathic applications. Due to the effect on the reproductive system they should absolutely not be consumed during pregnancy! Native Americans used Pulsatilla to induce termination of a pregnancy and childbirth.

The Pulsatilla is the provincial flower of Manitoba and the state flower of South Dakota.

As to how I photograph these little gems: Since the Pulsatilla is rather close to the ground, I'm close to the ground, too. Mostly lying on my belly or at least kneeling down. If not using a tripod I most often utilize a rock or my elbows to steady the camera. Most of these images are shot with the Canon Macro 100 mm, 2.8, USM on my 5D Mark III. Key is to avoid or at least minimize the wind. Most often I carry a reflector with me, not necessarily for the light as more as a wind stopper.

As focus stacking experiences a revival lately I have been asked why I'm not using it on my macros. Well, for one, as I just discussed with a photographer friend of mine, although I think focus stacking has its place, it is not my style. I like the fact that I can put the focus where I want it and use the "out of focus" areas to emphasize the focal point. Also, for focus stacking to be successful in conjunction with macro, I would have to take the flower to the studio. Which might be an idea for the future, but for now, I'm much rather enjoying it outside.