My Food Journey

Pomegranates and Lemon Curd

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. The Holidays are closing in, and like a lot of other people, for me that means not only holiday cheer, but a whole lot of extra stress too!

This year, I’m making quite a few food gifts which I’m sure I’ll document on this blog. The only thing I’ve done thus far is make lemon curd. I cooked it this weekend and canned it so it’ll last till Christmas. Lemons are in season now, although I’ve heard that the supply this year from Southern California (where most lemons grow) is very short. The hard frosts that hit the state last year have a lot to do with it I guess.

I used fresh lemon juice (and some organic bottled juice when I ran out of fresh lemons,) sugar, butter, and eggs (more yolks than whites.) Here a link to the recipe I used. Basically, you cook all of those things in a double boiler till they reach 170 degrees F. The recipe says to then filter out the zest, but I left it in since I kind of like the texture and the bitter contrast to the sweet lemon curd. I poured the hot mixture into half pint jars and “processed” them in boiling water for about 15 minutes. That really amounted to about 45 minutes in the hot water bath since it took the water so long to boil after I put the jars in. Here it is in the hot water.

I don’t have a whole lot of experience canning – I’m a little intimidated by the idea, but this seemed easy enough. Here’s the finished jars – I got a total of 9 half-pint jars. This weekend, I’ll make a bunch of other stuff to go with it.

Pomegranates were on sale at the co-op last week, so I decided to try something creative with them over the weekend. They were small – not the best quality, but organic and super cheap. I’m not exactly sure where these particular pomegranates are from, but mostly they grow in The Central Valley in Southern California. Not local, but not too far.

Pomegranates are an incredibly ancient fruit. They originally came from Persia (Iran.) Since they have the most experience, I figured the Persians would have some of the best recipes, so I decided lookes for Persian pomegranate recipes for a small dinner party I had on Sunday night.

Unfortunately I didn’t get too many pictures of the main dish: Ash-e-anar, a Persian pomegranate soup. Here’s a link to the recipe I loosely followed. I didn’t have a few of the ingredients, and I added some others. This picture is pretty early on in the process:

The final soup consisted of onions, green onions, a beet, garlic, yellow lentils, rice, parsley, cilantro, pomegranate juice, and beef meat-balls. I would have loved to use lamb, but unfortunately there was none to be had at the co-op this weekend. I also really wish I had had the turmeric that the recipe called for. I didn’t realize until too late that I needed it. The recipe also calls for Angelica Powder, which I couldn’t find anywhere. I guess it’s a spice used in Persian cooking. There are definite drawbacks to living in such a small town!

The soup reminded me a lot of Russian Borscht. It was rich and very warming. It gave me a good idea of how versatile Pomegranate juice can be.

We sprinkled fresh pomegranate seeds in the soup, and I also used some on the salad. They provided a great color contrast. This is our super awesome locally grown organic spring mix from Little River Farm- truly one of the joys of living in Arcata – especially this time of year when the local scene consists mainly of root crops.

For dessert I went with the Middle Eastern theme and made stuffed dates. I used to do this when I was a waitress at a Middle Eastern restaurant. These are organic Medjool dates. It’s quite easy to do, and really good. You just make an incision in each date, pull out the pit, and put a few almonds in its place. I sprinkled pistachios on it just for fun. Dates are delicious, but they’re almost too sweet. I can’t eat too many of them in one sitting – but I guess that’s not really a bad thing!

Just a few more quick pictures that I’ve taken recently:

This is the very last of the local lettuce. It’s been frosty this week and it finally did in the last of the G Farms lettuce. In some ways it’s sad to see the season ending. It feels like a final passage into winter. Even if the frost hadn’t killed it, the lettuce was practically done anyway: The lack of daylight this time of year practically stops its growth.

This was dinner last night. It just looked so good, I had to take a picture. It’s a hamburger, but instead of a bun, I chose to have extra cheese, grilled onion, and greens. Mmmmm….delicious, especially with the oven fries. I like finding ways to eliminate wheat from my diet without missing it too much – this was even better than a hamburger with bun! I regret buying the Mexican tomato – it tasted like mushy cardboard. It’s just not worth buying tomatoes this time of year – they get more expensive and less tasty – why do we buy them?

Speaking of non-local food, this is the asparagus that Johnny brought home a week ago. It’s from Argentina – flown up to the US in a cargo plane. This really is some of the most environmentally unsustainable food on the planet – it’s organic, but that doesn’t make up for all the diesel fuel and jet fuel it used to get here. It tasted good, but not good enough to take away the guilt I felt eating it….

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