Are there police who patrol blogs for cheesy headlines? And if so, can someone offer me safe harbour? That headline should be arrested. And summary justice dispensed.
It’s not even accurate because it wasn’t life who gave me lemons, it was Kosta.
Kosta is one of the many elderly Greeks who live in our very multicultural area. He only seems to have a few words of English and I only have three words of Greek (including ‘shit’ which isn’t really something that’s come up in our conversations to date) so our chats involve lots of head nodding and gesticulation.
Every day Kosta wanders for miles around. Which is quite the feat given he’s had a stroke which means he walks with a pronounced limp and has one completely paralysed arm.
One day, out of the blue, Kosta arrived at our front door with lemons from the tree in his front yard. LOTS of lemons. I was touched and delighted.
And he clearly took my delight as carte blanche as he not only delivered every single lemon from his tree, but then began helping himself to lemons from any other trees he found on his daily peregrinations. At least that’s what I think he’s telling me. If not, he has the most prolific lemon tree in the world.
Sophia calls him ‘the old man with the magic pockets’ because every second day or so there would be a knock at the door and there he’d be, fishing lemon after lemon out of the depths of his trouser pockets. One day he also arrived with a small, perfect yellow rose from his garden for me. Between his teeth. I nearly cried.
Another time he motioned to me to help him get the last lemon from his pocket because his movement is so restricted. I hesitated for a split second, as visions of all the old men who flashed me on my year backpacking through Europe filled my head, only to take a quick breath and plunge in. Thankfully, all I found was yet another lemon.
My friends rolled their eyes and called my deeply held desire to believe in nothing but Kosta’s purest of intentions naive. Please let him have asked me to do that simply because those particular pants had unusually deep and unwieldy pockets I prayed silently.
And my prayers were answered when the next day he turned up in the same pants and asked Andrew to help him get the last couple of lemons out. “I was right” I crowed to doubting husband and friends. He’s just a lovely old fellow who needs the odd bit of help to retrieve things from awkward places. And felt very happy with the world until Andrew reminded me of the ancient greek predilection for bisexuality. Cheeky bastard.
So what does one do when dear Kosta brings you nigh on 200 lemons over 3 weeks? Well, you make lemonade of course.
This is Stephanie Alexander’s recipe which I’ve made countless times and love. It has that delicious old-fashioned tang.
STEPHANIE ALEXANDER’s LEMON CORDIAL
2kg castor sugar (I actually halve this amount as I prefer my lemonade a little tart. Follow Stephanie if you prefer a sweeter little tart)
1 litre water
30g citric acid
30g tartaric acid
Juice of 6 large lemons, strained (I tend to use closer to 8)
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
Dissolve castor sugar in water over heat in a large pot. Add citric and tartaric acids. Stir to ensure all is completely dissolved. Cool. Stir in juice. Bottle in sterilised bottles. Dilute to taste with water, lemonade, soda or mineral water.
Makes around 1.5 litres.
The other thing I made was lemon curd. Pots and pots of gloriously silken lemon curd. Or, as it’s always been referred to as in my family, lemon butter.
It’s delicious on toast or scones or as the filling in a sponge cake. Or do as I did with one large batch and use it to fill sweet pastry shells and top with some double cream for a quick and decadent dessert.
STEPHANIE ALEXANDER’s LEMON CURD
2 large lemons
100g unsalted butter
175 g sugar
3 eggs, lightly whisked and strained.
Finely grate zest and juice lemons. In a heavy-based saucepan, combine butter, lemon juice, zest and sugar. Stir constantly over heat until sugar has dissolved. Add eggs off heat and stir to mix well. Cook over gentle heat, stirring constantly, until mixture has thickened. Do not allow it to boil or it will curdle. Pour straight into hot, sterilised jars or into a bowl if using immediately. The mixture will firm up a little more on standing.
Makes around 2 cups.
Preserved lemons is another fantastic way to use up a glut and they last for years. I like this recipe.
And so we come from bitter citrus to a sweeter topic: the winner of the twirling betty giveaway. I loved reading about all the good things that happened to you. So many things to be thankful for. Thanks for all your comments.
A random number generator did the honours and here is the result:
Congratulations George! I’ll email you shortly to discuss which twirling betty accessory you would like.
Don’t be upset if you didn’t win because I’m planning another giveaway soon as I’m about to launch a new product. Hurrah.
Now back to the lemons for just a second. I made the cordial and lemon curd to give Kosta as a gift to say thanks. But when I tried to give them to him he refused. I think what he was trying to tell me was that his throat (which was constricted by his stroke) can’t tolerate the acidity. Which would explain why he’s giving all his lemons to me. I was so disappointed as I really wanted to do something to thank him for his generosity. What does one get for an elderly Greek man who has an extremely restricted diet and a penchant for deep pockets? Any ideas gratefully received.