I potted them both up and gave one to ChefSon to anchor the culinary patio garden he was cultivating at that time, keeping the other for our own back yard sustainability experiment in liberally mixing edibles with lookables.
Fast forward several months and ChefSon moved into a slightly smaller non-ground floored condo space vacated by his sister as she headed off to graduate school. I re-inherited Meyer Lemon the Second, and have the two trees flanking a mosaic bed out back.
Now nearly a year later and we have the first "all our own" crop of lemons to crow about.
After meditating over the possibilities of "what to do with all those lemons" I finally decided to forgo limoncello as we are just not that into liqueurs.
I skipped over marmalade because we haven't eaten all the loquat strawberry jam from last Spring's efforts and aside from aggressively gifting people with more jars of jam (not that anybody has complained, mind you) I don't want to end up with cabinets filled with jams and preserves.
Lemonade would be a decadent misuse of the Meyers I believe and while I have plans to use some of them, juiced, for a couple of Thanksgiving recipes, I decided the rest ought to be preserved in a salt mixture, where they will hold for several months.
Here from David Lebovitz' amazing website is the basic process, although I am calling in ChefSon later today to add any tweaks of his own, and he will rightfully share the bounty, seeing as one of the trees was originally given to him.
Scrub the lemons with a vegetable brush and dry them off.
To use: Remove lemons from the liquid and rinse. Split in half and scrape out the pulp. Slice the lemon peels into thin strips or cut into small dices. You may wish to press the pulp through a sieve to obtain the flavorful juice, which can be used for flavoring as well, then discard the innards.
Figuring out how to best employ this seasonal excess reminded me of various reactions I experienced as I helped LawSchoolGirl make a drive from Michigan to Texas recently.
I purposefully did not take my camera, partly due to space restrictions in the packed car that was to serve as my return transport to Austin, and partly as intentional discipline.
Sightseeing out a car window, rather than flying so far above the fray, is its own reward. As we moved at car's pace from the North, where frosts and freezes were routine repeaters in the local weather forecasts, all the Fall color was on the ground, already carefully raked off of sidewalks and driveways. As we made our way South to where leaves were still clinging, it was fascinating to me to use my roadside vantage point to observe patterns of harvest I miss from my suburban setting.
In Michigan I noted one particularly large orchard along the highway we took while heading towards Indiana. Acres and acres of empty trees merely hinting at the bounty they had so recently released. Were these apple trees? Pears? Whatever they were, they were meticulously groomed and obviously well cared for.
Apples are a fruit I've begun to really enjoy again after years of avoidance. Alar scares have been overcome by the wider availability of organics plus several newly introduced varieties that pack all sorts of flavor, texture and nuance back into what had become all about packaging with no real content. Honeycrisps are a current family favorite. I've seen them described as "cider still in the skin". I think I like their crunch almost as much as the taste.
We moved past miles and miles of emptied corn fields in Illinois, some of them with stalks recently plowed under while others were just beginning that process. As we moved further South we caught up with the harvest, finally driving alongside fields where ears were being stripped of their kernels which were then being blown into trailered hoppers.
After crossing the line into Arkansas, the dominant roadside view abruptly changed from corn to cotton. Most of the white puffs were off the plants already and packed into huge 18 wheeler sized loaves lined along field edges, covered with colorful tarps and tagged with coding. Here and there in the small spaces between fields were drifts of cotton bolls looking like so many tiny snow drifts in the November sun shine.
Also predominant in Arkansas, especially in the early morning portion of our drive, were large red tailed hawks, seated on fence posts, all facing the rising sun. I eventually lost count of how many I saw that morning, but it was clear they had at least a temporary affinity for the newly harvested cotton fields. I suppose all sorts of small prey were exposed by the stripping of the fields, and perhaps the hawks were following the harvest opportunistically? I noticed once the roadside cotton and a few grain fields I couldn't readily identify were replaced by stands of old growth pine and understory sumac, there were no longer hawk sentinels along the highway.
The last two observations I'll share were somewhat related. All along the way we passed and were passed by vehicles loaded down with what appeared to be an entire family and all their belongings. I ventured a guess many of them are migrant harvesters, moving South, following the crops being taken from the fields. Some of them may have been heading home to share holidays with family and friends, but I feel certain most of them were hoping to find more work in the still sun warmed fields and orchards of the Rio Grande valley.
Watching these families with their belongings precariously piled atop various vehicles and trailers I was starkly reminded of how much I blindly accept in the process of bringing food from the field to my table. Driving past mile after mile of field planted fencerow to fencerow in relentless monoculture format was a stark reminder of how deeply invested our economy is in large scale agribusiness.
Even if governmental policies were to more actively support/demand determined divestment from monoculture agribusiness, it will take years of careful crop substitution and repurposing of the vast majority of our fields and farms to move from one style of food production to another. Do we have the national will for such a task?
Do we really have any other good choices?
One final note. After getting back home and making some pumpkin sausage soup in anticipation of a rainy cold front supposedly on the way I had just over a cup of pumpkin purée left over.
These muffins are not overly sweet and would be perfect to have on hand as breakfast or late night snacks for any and all kitchen help you might manage to corral in the next week or so. And if you don't find yourself with a cup of left over pumpkin purée, these are well worth opening a can. Make a double batch and just try not to eat half of them before your guests arrive.