Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Myer Lemon Sugar Cookies

Who doesn't love a standard issue sugar cookie?  I certainly do.  A homemade one even more.  What makes a baker special is how they elevate the basic and make it truly their own.  I'm working on being more experimental and discovered it's not so hard to make something special too.

My overflowing Meyer Lemon tree gave me the perfect excuse to update my tried and true cookie recipe with a zesty twist.  Let me taunt you with a few images.  You'll find the recipe below.

Fresh Out of the Oven, Myer Lemon Sugar Cookies

Myer Lemon Zest

Dry Ingredients Whisked Together

Butter & Sugar
Roll the Dough in the Sugar

Ready for Baking

Sugar Cookies Before....

Sugar Cookies After

Myer Lemon Sugar Cookies.  Look carefully and you'll see the zest.

Meyer Lemon Sugar Cookies


2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 large Meyer lemon
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar for rolling cookies


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
3. Using a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy.
4. Add lemon zest, egg, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Mix until combined. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
5. Roll rounded tablespoons of dough into balls and roll in sugar. Place on prepared baking sheets,  about 1 1/2 inches apart.
6. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are lightly brown around the edges. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for a couple of minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

With a Little Help From My Blogger Friends, A Do-Over Vegetable Patch

Every spring the vegetable garden story begins the same way, with great promise.  Like a good book, the observer hopes for a Victory Garden ending later in the summer.  The Victory Garden ending always seems to be in question though.  It wouldn't be a well appreciated tale if it weren't without its conflicts along the way, now would it?

Let's take my previous spring edition of this same story.  Last year, I struggled to grow tomatoes.  My educated guess was lousy soil and my primary protagonist, the bee, failed at making an appearance to complete my story.  Enter the antagonist, a mystery thief who was never fingered, took my only two tomatoes from the season. Thanks a bunch possum, squirrel or whoever you are.  You gave me a bummer ending to my kitchen garden tale.  I must rework the story this season.

Not wanting a fairy tale or wishful thinking garden, I researched as any decent author would do.

Starting with the soil, it's is all about nutrients.  Unhealthy soil will give you very little in return.  Wanting an organic approach, having a healthy compost amended in the beds will act as a superhero fertilizer warding off pests and disease.  A Way to Garden.com has an excellent tutorial on composting  if you are in need of help too.

Foxglove, a welcoming sentry
How do I make an alluring environment for my lead character, the sadly ever elusive bee?  The Honeybee Conservancy has an excellent guide on planting a bee garden  that provides food and habitat.  Bees like showy flowers just as much as humans.  They have spectacular vision and seem to be especially drawn to blue, purple, white and yellow flowers.  Aim for blooming flowers each season if your gardening zone allows; it will provide them a constant source of food.  Ideally, single petal blossoms are best since they have the most pollen and nectar to snack on.

Purple Salvia beckons the bees

Psst, hey Mr. Honeybee...over here and pollinate me so I can make a glorious, juicy tomato!

Tomato flower shows early promise
Tomatoes can use the help of a wing man.  The Back to the Basics blog, clued me in on the merits of companion planting. Marigolds, for example, fend off the nematodes and insects with it's not so heady perfume.

Marigold, the great defender of Tomatoes
The last twist in this version of the tale is time and weather.   We will have to wait to see how this version of the summertime garden story ends.
Meyer Lemon in hiding
As for spring, I'm proud to report, my matchmaking bee efforts paid dividends around my Meyer Lemon tree!  With a little help from my friends, I hope I've helped you too!

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