Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Tale of Two Curds

They say that when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.

That’s fine and dandy and all, but lets be honest--that’s a lot of lemons to squeeze. Also, when I get a tall glass of fresh lemonade, it’s usually downed pretty quickly because I love the stuff. But who wants to take their lemons and make something so fleetingly good? I say, when you get a bunch lemons (metaphorically or literally) go for the gold. The lasting kind, or, at least, something that lasts a few more days than fresh lemonade.

Go for Lemon Curd.

Don’t let the name fool you. Everyone knows and generally likes lemons, but curd? It reminds me of those small, light-yellow cheese curds they try to sell you in stores. Or in Wisconsin and Minnesota, where, while visiting a friend, I was once told, “The sign of a good curd is that it squeaks when you bite it.” Squeaking curds?? Um….

It also makes me think of that nursery rhyme:

Little Miss Muffett
Sat on a tuffett
Eating her curds and whey
Along came a spider
And sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffett away

I don’t know about you, but I’m still not quite sure what a tuffett is, exactly. When I was a kid, I had a dim picture in my mind of some soupy-porridge substance that made me feel terrible for Miss Muffett and her lunch. The only bit I understood was the part about a spider freaking Miss Muffett out so badly that she couldn’t eat her meal and actually ran away screaming, curds and whey left toppled upon the ground rather forlornly.

All in all, I say that curd, in its 2 various forms, gets a strange and mysterious rap. Not too many of us think “Man. I really wish I had some curd right now.” Or “Hey guys! Who’s in the mood for curd tonight?” Unless, maybe, you are from Minnesota and grew up with the squeaking cheese curds. I, on the other hand, Arizona raised, did not have cheese curds. What I did have in our front yard, however, was a variety of citrus trees laden with grapefruit, oranges, limes, and, of course, the humble lemon... which led to my favorite curd: the lemon kind.

Needless to say…it’s been one of those weeks, you know? The kind where work gets even more workish than normal and personal events take interesting and somewhat unexpected turns, all of which throw off your groove and leave you scratching your head and thinking “What the…? Where the…? ...I need to go to bed.”

To celebrate the lemons of life, I actually bought some rather sunny-looking specimens at the grocery and decided, rather smartly, that while it was still too early for lemonade it was perfect timing for some lemon curd. Now, I’ve only made it once before, for an Easter lemon pie I tackled last year, and I will say that while the pie was fine, I fell much more deeply in love with the custard I had created to fill said pie with. And while I love me some pie, in this case, I loved me the lemon curd more.

From new year, new food

The thing about lemon curd is that it is a great little topping to have a jar of. According to my mom and other various gourmet sources, its perfect in tart shells with berries on top, on hot scones or toast, on shortbread cookies, and, now that I think about it, could be pretty delicious on some raspberry sorbet. The possibilities are endless, and dang it all—its high time lemon curd gets the proper respect it deserves.

From new year, new food

(Whoops! How ever did my Dogfish Head 60 Minute I.P.A. get in that picture?? Mmmm.)

The premise is simple: fresh lemon juice (or lime, if you want to get even fancier with your curd), sugar, a pinch of salt, lemon zest, eggs and a healthy heap of butter, when stirred over medium-low heat for about ten to fifteen minutes, turns the sharp tang of lemons into a sweetened creamy spread that’s thick enough to stick to a spoon (which is another way to eat it, as I’ve happily discovered). Even better, its super easy to whip together after a long day, which means it’s great to have on hand for breakfast the next morning (as everyone at work thought when I brought a jar in.)

From new year, new food

(It's like bottled sunshine. But tastier.)

Either way you look at it, having a lemony week actually turns into something much better… a couple jars of tangy-sweet awesomeness that you can share with the people around you. And, might I add, much easier and longer-lasting than a single glass of lemonade. Between you and me, when lemons are concerned, I think I got the better end of the deal.

1 comment:

Erin Skinner said...

This was totally delicious. I had a bit of Sam's recipe on a few cookies and it was to-die-for yummy. So simple and so worth making.