Coffee heat rising

“Another Beautiful Day in Arizona…”

“…Leave us all enjoy it!”

{chortle!} That was the slogan of a long, long-ago governor of Arizona, a classic specimen of the state’s political fauna. The guy had been a radio announcer before he rose to the state’s highest office. He was a bit of an ignoramus, a good ole’ boy who may or may not have feigned that style. As it developed, he was far from the most stupid of the critters we have elected to public office. Evan Mecham took that cake. Ev was the Donald Trump of the Southwest.

What a character.

Ev was so flamboyantly bizarre — and so excessively stupid — that nobody wanted to miss a minute of the sideshow. We all — every citizen of the state — went out and bought these tiny portable TVs (this was long before the day of cell phones and Google News), which we toted into the office with us. It took a year and four months to shovel him out of office. He was impeached in April 1988, when he enjoyed a criminal trial for his efforts as, uhm, governor.

It was hilarious while it lasted. But then…to have a fool for a governor is a bit different from having one as President of the United States, hm?

In less laughable climes: Just found two (!!) emergent holes of paloverde beetles under one of the beloved Arizona sweet orange trees. The monsters love citrus as much as they love paloverde trees.

That tree was peakèd this spring, so I suspected something was up. (Or…down under.) Citrus trees will go “off” once every few years, look sickly, and produce rather sad fruit. Then they revive the following year. It’s as if they need to “rest” every now and again. But I’m afraid the present anemia resulted from its roots being eaten by these goddamned bugs’ grubs, which live most of their lives underground — about 8 years. When they emerge to breed, they’re at the end of their lives — they only last a few days above ground.

Control is extremely iffy. We might say “feeble.” Virtually nothing kills them. Some years ago I found a supposed organic treatment — you apply these microbes that allegedly attack the grubs, infect them, and do them in. But after a couple of years of applying according to instructions, they didn’t do a thing.

Then a guy at Home Depot — a retired arborist come back to earn a few pennies to finance his loafing — steered me to an insecticide that he claimed, contrary to accepted wisdom, would do the grubs in if applied at the right time of year and well soaked into the ground. That stuff does work moderately well. It certainly cut the number of emergent holes, which at one point were upwards of a dozen around the paloverde tree. Since at any given time an infestation can deliver hundreds or thousands of grubs, you know that for every mature, flying beetle dozens and dozens of babes are chewing away at your trees.

The problem with said insecticide is you can’t apply it to food plants. So if I put this stuff on the oranges, I won’t be able to eat next year’s crop of oranges. And that will not be a good thing. Those oranges are like candy. I gorge on them all spring, starting in February. I can easily eat five or six for breakfast, and then pull off some more during the day.

So I’m loathe to apply it. Not only do I not want to do without next year’s crop, neither do I know whether the following year’s fruit will be safe to eat. And of course, given that this stuff certainly isn’t going to kill all of the thousands of grubs underground (there were still some emergent holes the summer after I dumped it around the paloverde tree), getting rid of them may entail having to apply it several years in a row. Or…now and evermore.

It’s very early for paloverde beetles to emerge. Forgodsake, this is only May! They normally come out at the beginning of monsoon season, which starts mid- to late July. Apparently the combination of heat, humidity, and long daylight hours calls them forth. For two of them to climb out of the ground at this time of year is pretty surprising.

A flock of a dozen whitewing doves are scarfing up the seed I put out this morning. An interested thrasher is also lurking around. Thrashers will eat paloverde beetles. I’ve seen one do battle with one of those armored bugs…and it’s quite a show! So it’s in the trees’ interest to attract some fierce and muscular flying dinosaurs…as well as their cousins, the mockingbirds.

Here’s a thing that looks sort of like a house finch, but he’s probably not getting the type of food he most needs. His head and breast are distinctly orange, not red, which (so we’re told) indicates he’s not finding food with enough pigment to make him red. When you’re a lady house finch, you tend to favor a gent with the reddest possible coloring.

And the requisite pair of Abert’s towhees are back. These fine little birds will clear out an anthole in a few days. They do a funny little dance in leaf litter that involves hopping back and forth to stir things up until they flush a sowbug or some other hapless ground-crawling critter. It is, we might say, a well fed bird in these parts.

Speaking of the paloverde tree, one of its major branches has become so heavy it has dropped down to the level of the back wall and threatens to rest on the roof. Luis the arborist said he would come by this afternoon (that would mean “some time this week, maybe”) to take a look at it.

Luis is a very fine tree guy, hampered only by the fact that he no habla a helluva lot of inglès. Old-country men have much to recommend them, specifically a kind of grace and courtliness that tempers their machismo. Not only does he have this much-to-be-desired characteristic, he also really knows how to maintain trees. Never once have I seen him hack away at a tree with a chainsaw. He trims and shapes each tree by hand, with his brain fully engaged. He knows what he’s doing, and he does it well.

My plan is to ask him if we can brace that big stem up, because (especially at this time of year!) I don’t want to lose its shade. But I can just imagine what he’ll say about that.

I may have to take out a bank loan to pay him — there wasn’t enough in the checking account to cover Chuck’s bill for the damn Venza’s new battery and also stave off bankruptcy. In addition to the paloverde tree in back, the shrubs I installed in front to block the view of the former Dave’s Used Car Lot, Marina, and Weed Arboretum ran amok this spring. It’s surprising the neighbors haven’t complained to the city about them. So there are at least three very large plants out there that need to be cut back.

devil-pod-treePlus Gerardo would like to say good-bye to the devil-pod tree on the west side. I’d like to see it go, too. But…

a) I do not wish to say good-bye to its shade, despite the unholy mess it makes; and
b) Neither do I wish to say good-bye to one of Gerardo’s cousins, who you may be sure will be sent into the treetop (which touches the stratosphere now) to hack it down; and
c) Nor do I wish to have one of those characters drop a branch on my neighbor Terri’s roof, since I very much doubt my homeowner’s insurance will cover any such antics.

I think it will require a crane to take it down safely, that’s how high the tree is now. And I’m going to afford that…how?


Perfect timing!! Yesterday morning I made a Home Depot run to retrieve some more Mexican primrose seeds to replant the garden trashed by the Invasion of the Grass Monster from Bermuda. Naturally, they didn’t have any. But they did have amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs for exactly half the price demanded by my favorite local nursery.

Who could turn them down?

muscari_armeniacum_4While rummaging through the bulbs rack, I came across something called Muscari armeniacum. Never heard of it. But it looks extremely neat: bright blue flowers with long grassy-looking leaves. Apparently they’re very hardy and ultra-prolific — gardeners in some parts of the country complain they’ll take over a flowerbed and everything around it.

Well. That would be just fine by me. They also apparently will grow up through grass or other bedding plants, which would be great if the Mexican primrose has managed to reseed itself — which it’s fully capable of doing, bermudagrass be damned.

So I planted the 20 or 30 bulbs that came in the package, mostly by the pool but also a few near the west deck. The amaryllis went in a shady spot on the west side — those things grow madly, once a year, outdoors in a sheltered spot here. And two of the paperwhites went in the ground, two in a pot. And three eight-packs of assorted posies also went into pots and flowerbeds.

Shortly after all those babes got shoveled into the ground, the sky began to clabber up. Along about mid-afternoon, it started to rain. Not just rain, but pour! At first I thought it was hailing, but no: it was just a hard rain. It rained and rained and rained all afternoon and into the evening. It was still raining when I went to bed last night.

This morning the sun is shining and everything is magnificently deep-watered. Even got to turn off the watering system this morning. 🙂

Remaining to do in the poolside area:

Prune the tea rose
Prune the orange variant of yellowbell, which has turned into a kind of monster itself
Prune the blue plumbago, speaking of summer monsters
Prune the Lady Banks rose, which now does its job of hiding the pool equipment but wishes to return them to the jungle

Houses are a helluvalot of work. But on the other hand…what else have I got to do? And when all these little plants grow, they’re very satisfying.

I wonder if I’m still strong enough to lay brick. Hmmm…. The sand is out there…all I’d have to do is install some edging, level the sand, screed it, set the brick, and broom extra sand over it. Hmmm….

Once I laid a thousand bricks to build a patio in our yard in Encanto. Turned out pretty damn nice, too. But I was about 28 then. This is forty years later…hmmmm…..  On the other hand, I do not propose to lay a thousand bricks. I propose to lay enough to build a pathway where Ruby and Cassie have created a racetrack around the orange trees. Where they run, they knock aside the quarter-minus ground dressing (which is basically nothing but coarse sand), creating an uneven and unsightly mess.

I could use that quarter-minus as a base for a wandering brick path, which they could race around on without digging up the desert landscaping. A-n-n-n-d it would add some charm to the backyard. There’s nothing like a mysteriously meandering pathway to make a garden. 🙂

But for now, it’s off to the races! Et alors, jusqu’à demain.



RIP $64 butternut squash

{sigh} The amazing, struggling $64 butternut squash plant finally croaked over.

Yesterday it was looking a little yellow, the season being August. When it’s hotter than a three-dollar cookstove around here (the norm for the low-desert climate from May or June through mid-October), plants living in pots have to be watered every. single. day, no exceptions. And they need to be watered early in the morning, before the sun starts its daily baking process.

But…in August we get some humidity. This means that not all the water evaporates out of some pots, so plants that don’t like wet feet can show symptoms of overwatering. Like, for example, yellowing leaves.

So I decided to hold off watering the squash for a day, though left the shade cloth over it.

This morning—twenty-four hours later—it is stone dead. A stiff squash. A squash that has gone to meet its maker.

A couple of its viney arms were still clinging to life, having rooted in the sandy quarter-minus crushed granite that is my yard’s desert landscaping. Briefly I considered snipping those free from the dead mother plant and just continuing to water them. But really: what for? The original point of this exercise was to see whether seeds from a particularly delicious grocery-store butternut would grow in the back yard.

Welp…now we know the answer to that one!


How the garden grows!

Well, darn it! My camera won’t export my most recent veggie photos into iPhoto. But trust me: the garden is lookin’ good. Click on these thumbnails (twice!) for some older photos of the tiny babies…

Everything is much bigger now. I’ve thinned the chard and beets. The tiny pea plants are now pea toddlers, as it were, and are beginning to put out tendrils. I haven’t gotten around to thinning the carrots, mostly because they’re so thick it’s sorta daunting to figure out how to thin them without damaging the survivors—must do that today.

Having watched Jim’s summer-long gardening project at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity, I drew a few conclusions…well, more like theories…relevant to my own craving for garden-fresh veggies.

First, I think it’s probably best to plant in the ground rather than to continue the container-gardening strategy. I’ve always liked to grow things in pots. However, plants seem to prefer being in real dirt in the real ground. In Arizona, too, you have to use a lot more water to keep a plant alive in a pot: once the weather hits about 95 degrees, you have to water every morning or your plants will fry by midafternoon. Less water is needed when plants are in the actual earth. And pots, potting soil, and the extra fertilizer needed to replace nutrients washed out by frequent watering are expensive.

Second, also related to the local weather: fall and winter seem to be the best growing seasons here. Anything leafy bolts to seed when the ambient temperature reaches about 80 degrees, which is most of the time. Between October and March, though, lettuce, chard, and spinach seem to last forever. They can take a light frost with no damage, and you can pick off enough leaves for a salad or a side dish, letting the plant continue to produce more for you through the winter and early spring. Some tomatoes will bear fruit before the frost (they hate getting cold-nipped, though, and generally die in December).

Third: grow from seed. Buying plants at the nursery quickly turns into a pricey proposition. If you get started early enough, you can get a nice healthy crop in just as the weather turns perfect. Seeds are very cheap and produce a zillion plants.

And fourth: don’t think you’re going to save much on this project. Think of it instead as a way to get especially delicious, vine-ripened produce that you know to be as chemical-free as possible. And think of it as a stress-relieving hobby that brings you some pleasure, gets you outdoors, and on the side presents you with something good to eat.

This winter’s Grand Experiment is bush peas. Casting about for a place to plant them (my yard is xeriscaped and doesn’t have many unoccupied planting beds), I realized the basin around the queen palm gets watered a couple times a week by the overflow from the Meyer lemon tree. So I excavated some holes in the gravel, digging down to the dirt, and filled the holes with commercial garden soil plus some compost from my own compost bin. Stuck a pea or two in each prepared hole. If they want to climb at all, they can go up the palm tree’s trunk. These are doing quite well today.

I still had more than half a package of peas after this, though. So I found an old plastic plant pot and filled that with the rest of the bag of garden soil I’d bought to improve the flowerbed near the pool (which now hosts chard, beets, carrots, herbs, and a tomato plant). Not ideal, but better than nothing. The ones I put in that are kind of crowded—probably also need to be thinned—but just now are doing very well. I love fresh peas! And they never show up in grocery stores any more. On the rare occasions that I’ve found them, the price is well beyond my budget. So I do hope these grow and produce. 🙂

Some vacation…

I took off the four days of use-it-or-lose it time I’d accrued on top of the 267 hours of time My Beloved Employer has to pay me for if I get laid off. Tomorrow is the last of those four days.

With vacations like this, we don’t need salt mines. When I wasn’t sweltering with figures trying to calculate how (if) I can get by without a job, frantically conferring with my financial advisor,and negotiating with potential Copyeditor’s Desk clients, I was filling out job applications or throwing myself around the yard trying to catch up with several months’ worth of neglected gardening chores. Today I tackled the front courtyard: hauled three jammed wheelbarrowsful of plant trimmings and debris out to the garbage can. The other day I hauled two of the same out of the backyard. There’s still a lot to do—more pruning, more cleanup, more hauling. Today I worked until I couldn’t stand up anymore and then collapsed on the sofa and fell asleep.

There’s a phenomenal amount of work around this place that Gerardo doesn’t do, for the grandiose $75 a month I pay him. Grr! I asked him to trim the Texas sage in front. He nipped off about three twigs, far as I can tell. I cut it down two or three feet—quite a trick to do that without turning the thing into a futbol. I like my desert plants to look like desert plants, not like sculptures of soccer balls, but that doesn’t mean I want them to run amok.

Day before yesterday (was it that long ago?) I shoveled the last of the moribund flowers out of the poolside flowerbed, spaded the compost from the bin into the soil, and chuffed the bin full again with new plant debris. Having decided I’d better have some food growing if I was about to be out of a job, instead of flowers I planted beets, chard, carrots, red scallions, and bush peas. And one hopeful tomato, not likely to produce before the frost—but nothing ventured: it was only a couple bucks. One of last spring’s tomato plants survived the summer (a rarity!) and is blooming, so it may produce before winter nips it back.

The package of bush peas held many more dried peas than I had room to plant. Then the light dawned: around the base of the queen palm! Of course! It gets watered by the bubbler that overflows onto the queen palm from the Meyer lemon, and the palm’s trunk is a natural trellis (tho’ supposedly trellissing is optional for these plants). This meant I had to dig up the desert landscaping to plant the peas, which I really didn’t want to do. So I troweled little “cups” into the crushed granite, cut open the fabric ground covering underneath, planted the each seed in the dirt, and then packed the cup with a mix of dirt and potting soil. This was a chore: those guys who landscaped the backyard dumped four or five inches of Madison Gold Minus Three out there. Digging it up is not a joke. The result looks pretty ugly, but the plants should cover it up, and after they’re spentit should be easy enough to shovel the gravel back in place.

I also filled a big pot with soil and planted a bunch of the peas in there. Pruned roses, cut back some other plants, fertilized and watered roses, dug the dead clover and dichondra out from between the flagstones. What killed that stuff? Gerardo thinks it didn’t get watered, and I will say: it was dry. But it’s been thriving all summer—just suddenly keeled over. Pearl mites?

The watering system doesn’t seem to be working. A couple of sections are nonfunctional. So…why are my water bills through the roof? I suspect there’s a leak somewhere.

Coping with that is more than I can deal with just now, and so I think I’ll probably shut it down and drag hoses. Argh.

Cleaned the hummingbird feeders, made new hummer food, reloaded and rehung the feeders.

Backwashed the pool, refilled the filter with diatomaceous earth, treated the water. It needs a chlorine shock treatment, which I will administer once it’s REALLY too cold to swim. We’re right at the verge of that: this afternoon it was mighty crisp, but it still felt soooo good after spending four or five hours sweating in the sun.

Today trimmed part of the desert willow (didn’t do it much good; had to get the saw out to cut one limb) and the Texas ebony. Invented a system for tying the bougainvillea to the block wall without drilling into the wall and without gluing hooks to the wall. Pruned the bougainvillea and tied it up. Pruned the Texas sage. Cut my foot open on a cactus; bandaged foot, dug out spines; drove one spine in too deep to get it out. Trimmed back the palo brea and the vitex. Hauled heavy metal chairs back and forth. Moved the rustic (read “rusty”) iron crucifix from behind the boug and figured out how to hang it on a different wall without having to drill another hole. Dug the dead grass and weeds out from between the flagstones. Took the scissors and trimmed down the overgrown, leggy, dried-out Mexican primroses. Jammed two communal garbage barrels full of trimmings and plant debris. Left an incredible mess on the ground to shop-vac up after resting. Repaired the pool cleaner & got it running again.

And now I need to get up and finish the job. But first must dig the out the thorn, which hurts.

Ain’t homeownership grand?
Fed dog; dog evidently not annoyed by spinach (human having run out of preferred veggies), which she normally picks out and daintily sets on the floor: food dish emptied and chased around the kitchen floor. Dug cactus spine out of foot, accompanied by some profanity. Dragged shop-vac to front courtyard to inhale up leaves, compost, and dirt. Cleaned out four clogs, left courtyard looking about 110% better. Paused to feel smug. Dumped plant debris, compost, & dirt into compost bin. Cleaned out shop-vac; washed filter (did you know you can actually rinse out one of those expensive paper filters that come with shop-vacs? yesh!). Put shop-vac away.
Fired up BBQ; cooked a couple hamburg patties and some freezer-burned mystery meat for dog; cod filet for human. Incredible dinner: how did this happen?
Accidental Wonderful Dinner
You need:

§Charcoal grill
§Hardwood chops (hickory chips were on hand)
§Filet of firm-fleshed fish such as cod or salmon
§1 cup rice (I used converted; you could use regular white or brown rice but try to avoid instant rice…ick!)
§Olive oil
§21/2 cups water or broth; a little wine or sherry optional
§Chives or other herbs
§Tarragon or other herb, to taste
§Small blob of butter or splash of olive oil
§Your favorite way to light coals
§Fresh lime or lemon
Step 1: Start the charcoal. Set the hardwood chips to soak in cold water.
Step 2: While the charcoal is firing up, pour a little olive oil in the bottom of a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a cup of rice. Let this turn golden brown; stir now and again. Pay attention: once the browning starts, it can move right along. When the rice is evenly brown throughout, add2 1/2 cups of some sort of liquid. Since I was sharing this with the dog and I had no chicken or beef broth, I used water only. If no canine roommates are in the offing, mix and match to your taste. Sherry is a nice blandishment; so is white wine. Combine about 1/2 cup of either with broth or water. Whatever: add to the rice when the rice is browned, turn the heat down to medium-low, and set the timer for about 25 minutes if you’re using converted or about 35 or 40 minutes if you’re using regular white or brown rice.
Step 3: Wash and trim the asparagus. Set it on a sheet of tinfoil. Add a small blob of butter or a splash of olive oil; top with pinch of tarragon or any other herb that suits your fancy. Wrap tightly in tinfoil.
Step 4: Check on charcoal. Pour yourself a glass of wine or beer. Supervise in a desultory way until the charcoal is ready to use. At that point, place charcoal in grill (if it’s not already there; I use a chimney, so have to dump charcoal into the BBQ when it’s covered with white ash). Drain water off wood chips and toss wood chips on top of charcoal. Place grill over delicious charcoal and wood chops.
Step 5: Place the tinfoil package of asparagus over the heat. Rub a little olive oil over the fish and put the fish over the heat. Close the cover.
Step 6: Continue drinking and supervising. Keep an eye on the rice: don’t let it burn dry. When you flip the fish over, also flip over the tinfoil package. Watch rice.
Rice, fish, and veggies should get done at about the same time. Test fish by gently pushing apart with a barbecue spatula. It should flake but not be dried out.
Step7: Retrieve fish and asparagus from grill. Serve on plates with rice and juicy cut lime or lemon. Add some chives to the rice, if available, or dried herbs and a little butter. Be prepared for dog, if available, to try to sponge dinner from humans.
Step 7: Eat. Enjoy.
And so to bed.

Trees and the frugalist

The orange harvest is about consumed. I think two more oranges are left, out of my reach-tomorrow morning I’ll have to drag the step stool into the back yard and retrieve those. Arizona sweets, the two trees each bore at least a couple hundred fruits this winter, ripe in February and sweet as candy. For the past three months, I’ve been eating a half-dozen a day.

What a wonderful bounty!

I can’t imagine ever having a house without at least one fruit tree. My last shack had two Arizona sweets, a grapefruit, and a fig tree. This one, in addition to the two orange trees, has an amazing Mexican lime (pictured at right) that just now is covered in fruit and two young Meyer lemons, both of which blossomed in gay profusion this spring.

Manny, the current owner of SDXB’s former abode, has added plums and peaches to the existing grapefruit, orange, and tangerine trees. He insists he can get these to thrive here, and indeed, one of my colleagues has managed to grow edible peaches, apricots and plums in our scorching Valley of the Sun.

How frugal is a backyard fruit tree? I don’t know. The fig certainly was frugal enough: nothing much had to be done to it to make it bear. Citrus, though it’s fairly drought-hardy, needs plenty of deep watering and three doses of fertilizer each year to produce juicy, sweet fruit. If the tree bears a lot of fruit in a season, probably it’s a savings over buying that many oranges or grapefruit. And at 99 cents apiece, a lemon tree doesn’t have to make many lemons to be pay for itself. Lemon trees are notoriously fecund. At the grocery store, 99 cents a Meyer lemon does not purchase!

My water bill last month was $102. The lowest bill of the year, when hardly any water runs on the landscaping, is $70. The base rate is around $60. So all of the landscaping, including flowers and the pool, is costing around $32. Let’s guess the trees cost about $20 of that. Say the oranges bore 200 fruits this year. That’s a conservative guess; in fact, 6 oranges consumed per day x 3 months = 540 oranges, and I gave a bunch of them to friends in addition to the half-dozen I ate every day. But for the sake of easy math, let’s figure $20 ÷ 200 oranges = 10 cents apiece, roughly, per month, over about six months: 60 cents apiece.

That doesn’t figure in the fact that the water also goes on the lemons, the lime, the tomatoes, and the herbs. Still, the savings is probably not great…unless you figure that each orange tree actually bore about 270 oranges…. I was too busy picking and eating to count.

Tree-ripened fruit is so wonderful and so much better than grocery store produce, I’m actually dreading having to fall back on cardboard strawberries and barely ripe watermelons. Clearly, though, if the fruit falls on the ground and spoils or gets eaten by birds, it’s no bargain, neither water nor fertilizer being free. You have to have a way to preserve them.

Some people preserve citrus juice by freezing it in ice cube trays and storing the solid cubes in plastic freezer bags. You can make marmalade out of just about any citrus, and lemons lend themselves to lemon butter. Soft-skinned fruit can be canned or turned into jam, jelly, or butters. It’s a lot of work and I’m not sure I’d want to do it. That’s why I’m glad I live where citrus grows.

SDXB discovered that if you have a certain number of fruit trees on your lot-say, your house was built in an old grapefruit orchard, as many now centrally located 1950s Phoenix tract houses were-and you sell some of the produce, your lot qualifies as a farm and you qualify for an agricultural subsidy. You not only get a bunch of not-quite-free fruit, but you get a break on your taxes. Now that’s frugal!

Figs in Brandy

Wash a bunch of fresh, ripe figs. Prick them in a few places with a fork. Place them in a French canning jar with its rubber gasket in place. Cover with inexpensive brandy. If desired, add a little cinnamon or nutmeg. Store in the refrigerator.

Serve over ice cream.

Lemon Cream

Grate the zest of three lemons and then squeeze and collect the lemon juice. Next, beat five eggs plus five egg yolks until they are light and fluffy; then slowly beat in a cup of sugar, beating until the mixture is thick and pale yellow. In a large mixing bowl, whip four cups of heavy cream. In the top of a double boiler, pour the lemon juice over one tablespoon of gelatin. Allow the gelatin to soften and then stir over hot water until the gelatin dissolves. Stir the lemon-gelatin into the eggs, and then fold in the heavy cream. Chill in individual glasses or dishes and serve with whipped cream.

Lemon Curd

  • 2 yolks of extra large eggs
  • 2 extra large whole eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons minced lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

In a saucepan (about a quart size), whisk the ingredients together. Stir over medium low heat until the mixture coats a metal spoon, about 8 minutes. Pour the lemon curd into a bowl or French canning jar, cover, and store in the refrigerator. This can be spread on good bread or coffee cake, or served over ice cream.

This recipe can be doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled. Larger amounts require somewhat longer cooking, up to about 20 minutes. Of course, it can be made (to excellent effect) with Meyer lemons.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Thinly slice about six Meyer lemons, discarding the seeds and ends. You should have about three cups of sliced lemon. Place these in a bowl and cover with water. Let stand overnight.

Then bring the lemons and water to a boil and boil them uncovered for 10 minutes. Again allow to stand overnight.

Measure the lemon-water mixture and add an equal amount of sugar. Bring this mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Then lower the heat but cook rapidly for about 45 minutes, until the marmalade sheets off a spoon. Pour the hot marmalade into hot, sterilized canning jars and seal the lids. This makes about six cups.

Drunken Orange Slices

Peel one or more ripe, fine oranges. Slice horizontally into quarter-inch-thick slices. Layer in a wide stoneware serving bowl or enameled pan, and cover the fruit slices with Grand Marnier or brandy. Chill for several hours, or let stand at room temperature for an hour or so and serve. Makes a great dessert as it is or served over ice cream.

Amber Marmalade

Take three oranges, three lemons, and one grapefruit. Halve these and seed them; then slice them very thinly. Measure the amount of fruit this produces, and place the fruit in a large nonreactive bowl or pan. Add three cups of water for each cup of fruit, and let soak for 12 hours.

Then place the fruit and its water into an enameled pot. Boil it for 20 minutes, and again let it set for 12 hours.

Sterilize some canning jars and lids.

Again measure what you have. For each cup of fruit and juice, add three-quarters cup sugar. Cook this combination in small batches, no more than five cupfuls at a time, until the fruit is clear and the syrup falls off a spoon in a sheet. Remove it from the pot, let it cool a few minutes, stirring. Pack the marmalade in the sterilized canning jars, seal them, and store them in a cool place.

Lime Marmalade

Thinly slice limes to make about one quart. Add 1 ½ quarts water and let stand overnight. In a nonreactive pot, cook the limes slowly for 2 or 2 ½ hours, until they are tender.

Measure the lime and juice. Add 2/3 as much sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil; turn down the heat and cook rapidly until the marmalade sheets off a spoon, 30 to 60 minutes. Pack the marmalade in hot sterilized jars, seal them, and store in a cool place.


Cut about five pounds of white-fleshed fish filets, such as halibut or sole, into small pieces. Place in a glass or stoneware bowl. Add three minced onions, 2 cups lime juice, and 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Stir together; be sure the fish is covered with lime juice at all times. Add some minced hot peppers. Cover tightly and marinate in the refrigerator for one to three days.

Jicama con limas

Chill a jicama in the refrigerator. Wash it, peel it, quarter it, and cut it into quarter- or eighth-inch-thick slices, or into slender sticks. Squeeze fresh lime juice all over it. Sprinkle with salt and eat as a snack.

Quite Possibly the Highest and Best Use of Limes

Quarter a Mexican or key lime. Open a bottle of pale beer, preferably Triple-X or Corona. Squeeze the lime into the open bottle and then push the lime quarter down the neck into the beer. Consume. Repeat.