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Whidbey Recipes

"During what I call the years of my exile, living in the Midwest, spring always seemed to take forever to arrive. Often there would be snow on the ground Easter Sunday, and snow flurries off and on throughout April. The ground was still hard, trees bare, and it was useless to think of trying to plant anything until well into May.As anyone who's ever lived in that area knows, winters are hard, bitter, harsh, dispiriting and dangerous. I often felt that getting through a bad Midwest winter was a matter of sheer survival, managing to stay alive in spite of ice-sheeted highways, wind chill that could destroy unprotected fingers, ears or feet in minutes, and unrelenting cold that erased all memories of the hot, humid summer to come.Then, usually around the first week of May, when I was bone tired of the battle and ready to give up the fight against the forces of winter, to call work and tell them I couldn't make the commute one more day, to crawl under layers of blankets and bury my head under the pillow, it would happen. Buckets full of yellow daffodils would suddenly appear in all the local supermarkets, as if by magic. There is no other shade of yellow quite like that of daffodils; a bright, intense yellow that, after the endless grey days, almost hurt my eyes, shocked me out of those winter doldrums and trumpeted loud and clear that spring was, finally and in fact, just around the corner. I always went home with at least a half dozen bunches, putting them throughout the house where I'd see that wondrous shade of yellow no matter where I happened to be.Ever since those days, daffodil yellow has been the essence of springtime for me. Lilac lavender is lovely, plum blossom pink is pretty, and fields of tulips in every color make the heart glad, but yellow - daffodil yellow - is the hue of hope, of warmth, of sunshine and of happiness. Is it any wonder the entire island was covered with bright, beautiful, daffodil yellow last Saturday?RecipesLemons also have that same wonderful, intense yellow color and could even be said to have both the color and taste of spring. I know there are weeks yet of drip and drizzle, but daffodils and some fresh, lemony taste treats will keep things bright. If you're not yet familiar with lemon curd, a staple in England, do try it. It's delicious on scones, toast, English muffins, pancakes - and you'll no doubt think of dozens of other uses. You can buy it in many supermarkets, but it's so easy to make at home, and considerably less expensive. Here's but one of several recipes for:Fresh Lemon Curd3/4 cup fresh lemon juice1 T. finely grated fresh lemon zest3/4 cup sugar3 large eggs1/2 cup unsalted butter1. In a saucepan, whisk together everything but the butter. Cut the butter into small pieces and stir into the mixture. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the curd is thick enough that the marks of the whisk stay in it as you stir and bubbles just begin to appear (6-10 minutes). Cool, cover surface with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.Note: Some lemon curd recipes call for cornstarch to help thicken; if you find this one too thin for your tastes, combine a teaspoon of cornstarch with the sugar when you mix the initial ingredients.This lemon bread is the essence of springtime, light and lemony. Do use fresh lemons; it won't taste the same with bottled lemon juice and/or zest.Breath of Spring Lemon Bread1/2 cup vegetable shortening1 1/4 cups sugar2 large eggs1 1/4 cups flour1 t. baking powder1/4 t. salt1/2 cup milk1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts1 t. freshly grated lemon zest1/4 cup fresh lemon juice1. Cream together the shortening and 1 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating until mixture is smooth.2. On a sheet of waxed paper or into a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir this into the egg mixture, alternating with milk, stirring just until well combined. Stir in walnuts and lemon zest. Put batter in a well buttered 9x5 loaf pan and bake in the middle of a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Transfer pan to a rack and with a toothpick or small skewer poke holes in the bread all over.3. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the lemon juice. Pour this over the hot bread and allow to cool. When cool, remove from pan, slice and serve. And for a dessert that's as light and fresh as a day in May, try Fresh Lemon Mousse3/4 cup sugar (a bit more if your lemons are very tart)1 envelope unflavored gelatin1-1/2 t. cornstarch2 t. finely grated fresh lemon peel1 cup fresh lemon juice4 beaten egg yolks1 1/2 cups whipping cream2 T. orange flavored liqueur6 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, gelatin, cornstarch and lemon peel. Stir in lemon juice and egg yolks and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; cover surface with plastic wrap; cool, then chill.2. Beat whipping cream to soft peaks. Put the chilled lemon mixture in a blender container, add the orange liqueur, cover and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a large mixing bowl and gently fold in the whipped cream. Then carefully fold in the beaten egg whites. Turn mixture into a straight sided mousse dish or serving bowl, cover and chill at least 5 hours, or overnight. Garnish with thin lemon slices and/or grated lemon zest before serving, or with fresh berries in season. Serves 12 or more, depending upon serving size. "

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