Last week I broke down and custom ordered a box of produce from our co-op, rather than ordering the Season's Pick box with whatever surplus produce is in season. I just couldn't stand the thought of another yellow squash. Call me elitist, but part of the joy of fall and winter is the disappearance of the unwelcome crooknecks from the produce bin. But no, they just never stop growing in Florida, despite all my hopes to the contrary.
All that to say that this week when I picked up the box, there was a surprise waiting in the bottom. I'm sure my eyes were the size of golf balls after I spotted the yellow monster. I didn't order any surprises this week — what was this ugly thing?
"That's a lemon," the volunteer said.
"No way is that an organic lemon," I thought. But it didn't matter. I paid for the 10 pound box of veg and took it home, wondering all the way what I would do with such a prize.
Finally I settled on lemon curd, that mysterious light-yellow gloppy spread I've seen on fancy brunch tables alongside scones. I can't remember ever trying the stuff, but there must be some reason it's served only on special occasions.
I searched all over to find a recipe for lemon curd that measured the lemon juice by the cup, rather than by the lemon (since mine was at least the size of four "normal" lemons, but who knows how much juice was in there). I finally found one that not only had the lemon measured in cups, but also looked quite simple.
I combined all of the ingredients, sans butter, in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisked for over 10 minutes. I whisked and I whisked until both the ingredients and my arms had been whisked into submission. Then the phone rang.
Seeing as it was Ted, I had to pick up the phone. And whisk. And talk. And then… the lemon curd died.
Well, it didn't die. Really, it had foamed up to about twice its size, giving the sneaky illusion that it was thickened and silky when really it was just a wet mess of uncooked egg and lemon. Of course I didn't realize that until after I'd taken it off the burner and whisked in the butter. Devastated, arm aching, I shut the stove and all of the kitchen lights off and retreated to my bedroom with my laptop to start work on the project Ted had called me about.
Vance was out running during all of this — the whisking, the phone call, me laying in the middle of the kitchen floor for a while with Chester. He returned to find everything where I'd left it in the kitchen, and me with a huge frown and a picture of Diddy on my computer in the middle of our bed. It was truly one of those just-burned-the-Boeuf-Bourguignon moments straight out of Julie and Julia.
Always the hero, I came downstairs later to find Vance over the stove with an instant-read thermometer, bringing the lemon curd up to a temperature where the eggs would be cooked and the mixture might thicken. After a night in the refrigerator, we had both a beautiful lemon curd and a funny story to tell.
When life hands you lemons, make lemon curd.