Natural egg dyes, braided bread, lemon shortbread and other good ideas for Easter

lemon shortbread with lemon marmalade

My Easter plans are a little slow in forthcoming this year as I’ve been distracted by our forays into making maple syrup – our newest urban homesteading project. Look for a full post from Danny soon on our backyard sugar bush adventures later; we’re giddy with our progress.

Easter is a fantastic excuse to entertain and I will definitely be gathering a few friends and family around for brunch or lunch. The boys and I had a chance to bake cookies in adorable little bunny and chick shapes and make the thumbprint shortbread cookies above.

The rest of the menu will be inspired from the archives and a few old favorites I rediscovered when putting together this round-up. Of course, maple syrup will be the spotlight ingredient of the brunch.

Perhaps you’ll find an idea or two below for your Easter table.

[Read more…]

Five ideas for preserving Meyer lemons (recipe: Meyer Lemon Finishing Salt)

five ideas for preserving lemons on simplebites.new

Winter is spilling over into its sixth month, bringing snow and freezing temperatures once again to our northern city. At dinner yesterday I tried to look on the bright side: “At least we don’t have to mow the lawn”, then slumped back into my chair, sighing over the elusive spring and her warm winds.

Last month I collected myself and resolutely embraced winter salads, but early March found me longing for fruit other than lackluster apples. Spurred on by fellow home preserving enthusiasts, Marisa and Autumn, I treated myself to a box of Meyer lemons from Lemon Ladies Orchard in California.

In record time the lemons arrived in good shape, and opening the box was better than unwrapping a Christmas present. The sweet smell perfumed my kitchen instantly and almost as quickly, my head began to swirl with ideas.

I was smitten.

[Read more…]

Spiced Preserved Lemons

finished jar

Written by Marisa of Food in Jars.

In 1988, my family packed up our station wagon and migrated north from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon. I went from being a kid who’d never seen snow to one who was intimately familiar with mittens, scarves and moisture-wicking rain jackets.

Since then, I’ve always made the choice to live in climates that feature four distinct seasons (my younger sister went the opposite way and fled to Austin, Texas as soon as she was able). While I continue to be entirely pleased with my chosen city and its weather, I do find that come January, I need a little help dealing with the short, dark days.

meyer lemons

Where most people might choose sun lamps or strategically timed visits to points south, I ward off the effects of the winter blahs with prodigious doses of citrus. I buy clementines by the box, fill cellophane bags with navel oranges and once a season, splurge on a ten pound shipment of Meyer lemons from the Bay Area.

I make marmalade, curd, jelly, caramel sauce, infused sea salt, flavored olive oil, dried slices and salt preserved lemons. All told, I spend nearly two full weeks celebrating the fragrance and flavor of these sweet, thin-skinned lemons.

[Read more…]