Lemon Spring Love

April 22, 2012


There wasn’t a whole lot to do in North Dakota in the winter, so Mama hauled us off to the library on a regular basis. I didn’t mind this, because I loved to read, but my sister always sulked in the car. I always checked out the maximum amount of books you could per week: 8.

I don’t remember what book it was, but as a kid, I checked out a book that featured a wizened old man, who always sat on his front porch, in a dilapidated rocking chair, sucking on lemons, hucking the seeds onto the ground with malice and glaring at the neighborhood kids, who were making a ruckus in the street.

Maybe because I’m kind of a crotchety old broad myself, I really liked that character. I wondered why he was so cranky and why he liked lemons so much and why, if the kids annoyed him so greatly, he stayed out there to witness the chaos and the noise. Characters like that are good stuff. They get your brain churnin’.

I’m also a big fan of the lemon. Everyone who knows me thinks I’m a freak because honestly, I couldn’t give a rip about chocolate. When my birthday rolls around, there’s not a cake in sight. It’s all about the lemon or the key lime pie when it’s my special day at Chez T.

I know people associate lemons with bitterness, but I don’t agree–not at all. To me, lemons mean balance. A squeeze of lemon–just that little hit of acidity–can transform a dish from something average to WOW.  Maybe that’s why I was so blissed out in Greece, which they should just call LemonLand. Lemons own those islands. Lemons perfume air, pudgy yellow orbs tease you, dangling from trees, and sit, regally sliced, over fish just caught from aquamarine water. Bliss.

The girls must share my affliction, because as babies, they both were lemon-suckers. They’d point at the lemons in the hanging kitchen basket and demand, “Yellow! Me wanna yellow!”  So yellow slices were served, sucked on with puckered lips and gummy grins, and demanded again. Genetics, what can I say? The T. girls love their lemons.

I made this dessert by accident. It was a weekend afternoon, my husband was on call, and I was walking like a constipated gorilla after my recent surgery. The girls were argumentative and peevish, and wanted to make brownies, but there way no WAY I was heading to the grocery store, so I pillaged the pantry and what did I find? Lemons. Lots of them. Boy, that was good news. Constipated gorillas on painkillers do not belong in the grocery store.

So we made these little Lemon Pudding Cakes. They don’t have to be little–you can bake the whole lot together in a casserole and serve it up that way, and it will be delicious as well. I just thought they looked cuter in individual ramekins. Every girl wants something of their own, don’t you think? They’re funny little things–cakey and light on the top and creamy and pudding-like on the bottom.  The girls thought they were a revelation. They liked them warm, decorated with a little powdered sugar or vanilla ice cream, but me, oddity that I am, preferred them cold, with a dollop of Greek yogurt, for breakfast.

I wish I had a better picture–painkiller hands–but hey, I tried. These are a lovely little tribute to Spring, and are good served warm or cold or room temperature, and low-maintenance, easy things like that are truly a gift. Make them for your favorite lemon lover, and they’ll smile.

Lemon Pudding Cake

serves about 4

3 eggs, separated

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel

1/2 cup  milk

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 1-quart casserole or 4 individual ramekins.  In a medium bowl, beat the yolks (reserve whites). Blend in the lemon peel, milk and lemon juice. Add the sugar, flour and salt and whisk vigorously until smooth.

With a mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture gently. Pour into casserole/ramekins.

Set casserole dish/ramekins in a baking pan. Fill the baking pan with about 1/2 and inch of boiling water. Put the baking pan in the oven and bake for about 30 min until fluffy and pufffed.

Cool slightly and dust with powdered sugar.

Ode To The Lemon
by Pablo Neruda

From blossoms
by the moonlight,
from an
aroma of exasperated
steeped in fragrance,
drifted from the lemon tree,
and from its plantarium
lemons descended to the earth.Tender yield!
The coasts,
the markets glowed
with light, with
unrefined gold;
we opened
two halves
of a miracle,
congealed acid
from the hemispheres
of a star,
the most intense liqueur
of nature,
unique, vivid,
born of the cool, fresh
of its fragrant house,
its acid, secret symmetry.

sliced a small
in the lemon,
the concealed apse, opened,
revealed acid stained glass,
oozed topaz,
cool architecture.

So, when you hold
the hemisphere
of a cut lemon
above your plate,
you spill
a universe of gold,
yellow goblet
of miracles,
a fragrant nipple
of the earth’s breast,
a ray of light that was made fruit,
the minute fire of a planet.

**gross and bizarre medical update:WHY do things never go in a normal fashion over here? I’m sporting some  new cauterization and fancy stitching over here. Gah, it’s never easy.  Thus, the blonde Gorilla will still be lurching around for a while. But I’ll do my best to pony up–I’d miss you too much to stay in bed all the time.

***I am also going to try to participate in Momalom‘s Five for Five this week, which means lots of words and very little recipes. I  might sneak in one or two, though, just to surprise you. Depends on the energy level. But I adore Sarah and Jen and want to be a part of their project, so this writer/cook/mom/fool needs to grab her pen and start motivating.  I love you, readers. Thank you for standing by me through all of the weird and the gross and the just plain unbelievable.  I hope to catch up with you soon.

Much love,


{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

elizabeth April 22, 2012 at 11:53 am

Lemons were definitely a more acquired taste for me (aside from lemonade), but I can’t get enough of them now. And you would adore Liguria, because lemons are all over there too.

Pablo Neruda is the perfect antidote to this otherwise cold, rainy Sunday afternoon.


Amy Lu April 22, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Yummo! And I adore Key Lime pie. Could have it all the time!


Abby April 22, 2012 at 2:02 pm

To be honest, I’m kind of in the “neither” camp in that I don’t really care for dessert. Give me pizza over pie. But I DO need a little piece of chocolate every night before bed–my chocolate closure on the day–so I guess I’m in camp chocolate vs. lemon.

However, lemon reminds me of my grandma and the lemon cake she used to make for me all the time (that I kind of pretended I liked, only because she liked to make it for me.) Because of that, lemon is still kind of special ;)

Hope you feel better and selfishly, I’m glad you’ll be writing more soon.


Pamela April 22, 2012 at 4:28 pm

I would happily live on a Greek island with you and subsist on nothings but lemons, this lemon pudding cake, olives, and tzdziki (or however you spell it). And sunshine!!! Happy healing, my friend.


Caitlin April 22, 2012 at 5:41 pm

I could taste the tartness of the “yellow slices.” Great post :)


Heather April 22, 2012 at 8:21 pm

To me, lemons just sing summer! I do love my chocolate, but given a choice? I’m pretty sure I’d go with lemon.
Oh, and Eli could totally come live with you! He was a major lemon sucker as a babe. He would scream if you didn’t give him a wedge :) He does have impeccable taste!
Glad you’ll be hanging out for 5 for 5 next week. I’ve been missing you! xoxo


Goppa April 22, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Mama, you move me!! Above used to be Papa Guy, but the 2 year old can only get Goppa out, so I think it has changed. What would the world do without Lemons and Bacon?


Naptimewriting April 22, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Duuuuuude! That was a lot of posts in one.
Neruda should get his own post. It’s still poetry month, right?
Lemon cakes…Yeeeeeeeeeessssssssssss. Please.
And cauterized waddling pain? No, thank you. Sorry. Hope it’s not catching.
And whatever else was up there? I don’t remember any more. But it was lovely and you’re lovely and please stop making yourself write marathon posts.
Oh, yeah. Wizened old man. Love the image.


Justine April 22, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Yay! See you at 5 for 5. And I know I say this a lot but I am SOOOO going to make this lemon pudding cake. I don’t know what you’re talking about as far as the picture goes, but it looks incredible. My favorite part about it is that I don’t even have to go to the store for ingredients!

Hope you feel better soon love.


Liz April 23, 2012 at 4:07 am

I was scrolling down the recipe, with the intention of commenting about how you are the only person who makes me wish I cooked, and then I saw Neruda….MY FAVORITE.


Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon April 23, 2012 at 9:57 am

My lemon memory is from May Festivals of days gone by. The May Festival ladies would take a thick peppermint stick and stick it in a whole lemon. Juice then gets sucked through the peppermint “straw”. It is pure bliss.


Mal @ The Chic Geek April 23, 2012 at 10:41 am

I love lemon desserts, this sounds and looks so wonderful


Contemporary Troubadour April 23, 2012 at 10:43 am

Lemons are what tell me the warmer seasons are finally making their return. Before traveling for Easter, I baked lemon-coconut muffins just for me to stash in my luggage as a treat for myself (D’s mother’s kitchen is a gluten bomb — I’d be playing with fire to try making baked goods there). Lemons = love.

As for post-surgical complications — girl, I hear ya. And I am so sorry. Sending extra healing vibes your way.


Arnebya April 23, 2012 at 11:57 am

I love lemons. The girls love lemons. The boy has not yet been introduced to a lemon. Methinks it’s high time. This looks positively delectable. I love anything lemon (literally; my favorite cake is lemon w/lemon icing because I’m so daring).

Best wishes for continued recovery. Mail me your leftover pain pills.


Tiffany April 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Guess what I had for dessert for my birhtday growing up? Strawberry cake. Guess what I have now? Key lime cheesecake. Give me a lemon-ish dessert any day! The best part? No one else wants it!!!


Allison @ Alli n Son April 23, 2012 at 7:53 pm

As you know, I’m a chocolate girl, all the way. But…I love me some lemon. Especially in the spring and summer.

Also, I’m totally going to be a crotchety old woman. Me and my husband have been planning it for years now.


Kelly April 23, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Lemon lover over here! My favorite way to eat them is peeled and sectioned like an orange. Makes my mouth water just to think about it. When I was pregnant, I ate a salad of spinach, lemons, feta, green olives, and tarragon vinegar every day. Yum!


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri April 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm

This looks scrumptious. We have lemon lovers in my house. Definitely on tap for the weekend. Thanks Kitch!


Jennifer April 26, 2012 at 12:26 pm

These look like perfection.


grace April 28, 2012 at 1:52 pm

pablo neruda! nice! this lovely cake would be worth the hassle of separating eggs. :)


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