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I chose lemons as my ingredient for November specifically because I could use my own, homegrown lemons! I made eighteen jars of Spiced Honey to give away as holiday gifts and two Creamy Lemon pies for Thanksgiving.

My Lemon Tree

My Lemon Tree

My Lemon Tree

Four years ago, for my 30th birthday, my brother and sister-in law gave me a Satsuma tree. I loved it so much that every birthday since, I’ve gotten myself a new citrus tree companion for it. This Dwarf Meyer Lemon was the first companion, 2010, my 31st birthday. It’s my favorite by far, (Sorry, Satsuma), because it’s been the most productive. This is the third year I’ve gotten lemons from it — the first year I harvested four, last year eight and this year eighteen.

Spiced Honey

I chose the Spiced Honey recipe from my Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for a few reasons: I thought it would make a great gift, I had enough lemons for it, and I could buy honey in bulk from the farmers’ market. (Next year, when I make this again, I hope to make it with honey from my own hives, in addition to the homegrown lemons.)

Since I’ll be giving the jars of honey away as gifts, I’ve made the recipe its own page and will be including the link on the jar labels so that anyone who likes it can make it again.

Lemons floating in honey

Clove-studded lemons and cinnamon sticks floating in honey.

I made two batches and tripled the recipe both times. The first batch, I mis-read the instructions and cut the lemons into wedges. I realized my mistake and cut the lemons into the rounds pictured above the second time.

The first batch was delicious — the honey was much less sweet, with very subtle hints of the lemon, cinnamon and cloves. We used an entire jar in one weekend, just in our tea. But I’m sure it would be just as good on biscuits or freshly baked bread.

We haven’t tried the second batch yet, but I’m curious if the lemon flavor will be more pronounced in those jars with the lemon rounds, as opposed to the first-batch jars with the lemon wedges.

Creamy Lemon Pie

This pie is quickly becoming an annual, holiday tradition for us. I made this lemon pie recipe for the first time, three years ago, and it was the first thing I ever made with an ingredient I had grown myself. I proudly took it to Thanksgiving that year and it was a huge hit. I made it again last Thanksgiving, that time with two of the ingredients coming from my yard: the eggs and the lemons.

This year, I messed the whipped cream topping up and wasn’t going to put my pie out for Thanksgiving (there were seven other pies after all), but despite the whipped cream flub, it ultimately ended up on the table by popular demand. (‘Demand’ being the key word there.)

Anyway, I love making this pie for a many reasons that have nothing to do with how it tastes. (But don’t get me wrong, it tastes amazing!)

Lemons being juiced for the Thanksgiving Lemon Creme Pie

Juicing the lemons for Creamy Lemon pie.

* The title of this post is totally a nod to the U2 song. I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since I started writing this.

Okra for October

Okra season is wrapping up so I chose it as my ingredient for October. I made two recipes: goulash and pickles.

Okra Dishes

Okra Dishes

I’ve found okra easy to grow but tricky to harvest in bulk unless you have a large number of plants. I didn’t have enough for these recipes so I got it from the Farmer’s Market.

I made the okra goulash because it was something Ed’s grandmother used to make. No one in his family had the exact recipe though so I just found one through a quick Google search. It turned out great and I ended up wishing I had made twice as much of it.

I chose pickles because I wanted to try canning and I love pickles! The pickles turned out really tasty but I think they could be crisper. They’re much better chilled because of that.

The canning process was quite the adventure though. I almost didn’t go through with it because I became very confused about high acid versus low acid foods and whether I needed a pressure canner or a boiling water canner. It took me way too long to realize that, although okra is naturally low acid, adding vinegar makes it high acid so a boiling water canner was just fine.

Another thing, I don’t think I packed enough of them into each jar. There ended up being a lot more headspace once the okra had been processed. I was told to try hot-packing them next time. Another factor may have been that the recipe said to pack all of the okra stem up but I think alternating between stem up and stem down might have helped as well.