I've just been feeding my lemon tree. It is still very small; i've had great difficulty growing a lemon tree here, but i am determined. I know plenty of other people who have lemon trees in my area, so i know it is possible. I think it is a matter of finding the right spot. The husband is convinced i've got my lemon tree in the "wrong" spot, but it is still alive after 3 years, so that's a good start in my books. It did "die" the first winter, but re-grew from its base the following spring, and this year it has a few blossoms, so maybe i'll have a lemon or two in a year. In the meantime i have to rely on the generosity of friends with lemon trees, or at a pinch, the green grocer.
Lemons are a wonder of nature. I love how a healthy lemon tree will have yellow, ready-to-use fruit, green maturing fruit, and blossoms, all at the same time. And the ripe fruit will happily sit on the tree for months, staying fresh until you have need of it. I use a lot of lemons, both juice and zest (lemon zest is a happy addition to so many dishes), which is why i need my own tree. Probably a couple of trees will be better, but i'll see if i can get one growing happily before i start with another. I did have a lemon in a large pot for a few years. I'd bring it inside each winter to protect it from the frost, and put it out on the deck over the warmer months. I had a remarkably good crop of lemons off it one year,considering its size, but it kept getting attacked by scale insect. Scale is remarkably difficult and time-consuming to control, if you prefer to avoid nasty insecticides, and i usually wouldn't notice that the tree was suffering until it had a large infestation. I read that lemons are more susceptible to scale when they are kept indoors, and eventually (after 2 or 3 years) i got tired of nursing a sad-looking lemon tree in a pot, and planted it out in the vege garden, where it (rather unsurprisingly) died in the first winter frosts. Anyway, i'm trying again, and whether the current plant thrives or fails, i've got another spot in mind to try as a potential citrus-growing spot.
Although i use lemons in a lot of savoury recipes, few of them would classify as "lemon recipes". The following, however, is most definitely a lemon recipe. It is from my 'go-to' book for sweet recipes, The New Zealand Treasury of Baking. It is gooey and sweet and if you like lemons, you're sure to enjoy this little treat.
STICKY LEMON SLICE
By Julie Biuso in 'A Treasury of New Zealand Baking'
225g unsalted butter, softened
70g icing sugar
275g standard flour
400g white sugar
4 medium sized eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons standard flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
grated zest of 2 lemons
90 ml lemon juice, strained
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celcius. Line the base of a 32 x 21 cm Swiss roll tin with baking paper.
To make the base, put the butter in the bowl of a food processor and process until whipped, then add the icing sugar and process until creamy and light in colour. Sprinkle the flour over this and process until the mixture starts to form a ball. Tip into the prepared tin and press flat. If the mixture is sticky, keep your fingers dusted with flour.
Bake for 15 minutes then remove from the oven. Leave the oven on at 170 degrees. While the base is cooling, make the topping.
Tip the sugar into the cleaned bowl of the food processor and pour in the eggs. Process for one minute. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, then sprinkle the flour and baking powder over the top. Add the lemon zest and juice, mixing together with a large spoon. Pour the mixture over the base (it will fill the tin).
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden in colour and firm-ish to the touch. Cool in the tin, then dust with icing sugar and cut into squares (approx 28). Transfer to an airtight container when cool.
This slice will keep for 3-5 days.