Bergamot

Earl Grey tea

I noticed this particular blend of Earl Grey tea has blue flowers. Blue flowers? Not knowing what flower this could be, I did a tiny bit of research on Earl Grey tea, and of bergamot too, wondering if those petals could be bergamot flower?  My findings  enlighten me to the fact that there are actually two kinds of bergamot in the botanical world!  First, the European grown Bergamot Orange , botanical name is Citrus Bergamia.

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Second, the North American herbal plant Wild Bergamot, also known as Bee Balm,  botanical name is  Monardae20b82df1129d9ef5b8e8e91d7e1a0cb
This was confusing to me, because the herbaceous bergamot has a purplish flower, which some of the Earl Grey tea blends have.  Now, reading up on ingredients in Earl Grey blends, I found that the dried petals in my tea could very possibly be cornflower petals !HHDL_Garden_Cornflower
The type of blue flower petals in my tea blend is still a mystery, however, there is no debate that the signature flavor of Earl Grey tea is the citrus kind of Bergamot, the essential oil which is extracted from the aromatic skin of the sour fruit.

I have also discovered that Earl Grey tea is one of the most varied blends of tea,  and that “Earl Grey” as applied to tea is not a registered trademark, thus numerous tea companies produce their own blends of Earl Grey tea, using a wide variety of tea leaves and additives.  Aside from black tea, obviously, ingredients vary enough to make me dizzy; there is foremost the essential oil of the citrus bergamot, but may also citrus rind, licorice root, lavender, mallow flower, monarda flower, cornflower, jasmine, rose petals lemon grass,  vanilla ~~ just to name a few ingredients I have found so far.  What are the ingredients in your favorite Earl Grey blend?

All very well & good!  Actually, the reason for my curiosity is that I have been thinking about making Earl Grey ice-cream lately,  among other forthcoming tea-inspired ideas, so I finally did, and here’s  how I made a small sample batch, including a little photo slideshow…

  1. Heat to scalding, 1 cup of heavy cream with 2-4 tablespoons of your favorite Earl Grey blend in the cream — no need to boil.
  2. Add 1/2 cup sugar, and let it sit a couple of hours at least, to get the Earl Grey flavors exuding into the cream.
  3. When completely cool, stir well, and strain through sieve, then and add 1 cup milk.
  4. Churn freeze & enjoy!

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Served up in a little espresso demitasse,

and let me tell you,

the ice-cream is every bit as fragrant as the tea,  

absolutely delicious … 

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Earl Grey  tea ice-cream

… and I think that the Earl himself would approve!

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The Earl Charles Grey, 1764-1845

 

Invincible Summer Lemonade

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” In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”                           — Albert Camus

In California in winter you might very well witness yellow lemons fattening on the branches of the Meyer Lemon tree, bringing summer into winter.   This is so at odds with one’s expectations, that I found the quote by Camus to be perfect!

And now for a little fun research on the extraordinary & delicious Meyer lemon ~~ ​In the turn of the last century, American “agricultural explorer” Frank Nicholas Meyer collected a sample of a native​ lemon plant on a trip to China​, which was believed by him to be a hybrid of a lemon and a mandarin orange. He introduced ​it to the United States in 1908.

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The Meyer lemon is commonly grown in garden pots as an ornamental tree​, I personally have one, and feel they are delicious and wonderful potted citrus to have.  California Cuisine chef Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley  rediscovered this fruit in the cuisine revolution of the 90’s, as did Martha Stewart when she began featuring them in her recipes.  I remember that era & the popularizing of the Meyer lemon very well. ed4eb8cff64f736b233f46e4813b5fd7

“The Meyer lemon fruit is yellow and rounder than a true lemon. The skin is fragrant and thin, colored a deep yellow with a slight orange tint when ripe. Meyer lemon fruits have a sweeter, less acidic flavor than the more common Lisbon or Eureka varieties. The pulp is a dark yellow…” read more …

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Happy Summer Solstice everyone ~~ and on this first day of summer, I give to you my very own extremely delicious sparkling Meyer lemonade recipe ~~ having just renamed it just for this solstice  “Invincible Summer Lemonade” ! ​ This recipe will make you  a couple of tall glasses of delightful ice-cold lemony refreshment, so dig out your zesters and make sure there’s plenty of ice in the freezer.

  1. Pick 1  ripe fruit from your Meyer lemon tree, or from the produce stall at the market, but really, any kind of  fresh lemon will do,  just avoid using old stale lemons.
  2. With a zesting tool, zest outer skin of entire lemon, only the yellow part, avoiding the bitter white of the peel if possible.   If you don’t have a zester, then use a grater, but more often than not, too much of the peel is lost to the grater.
  3. Into a glass quart jar or liquid measure, combine 2-4 tbsp organic sugar, and lemon peel and let sit for 30 minutes, while stirring once or twice while sugar is leeching out those tasty essential oils from peel, the signature flavor in this drink.
  4. Now juice the peeled lemon and pour juice over sugar-zest mixture. Stir well until all the sugar dissolves in the lemon juice.
  5. Pour into juice 2 to 3 cups sparkling mineral water ( or a combination of sparkling and cold water).  Add more sugar if desired.
  6. Pour lemonade through strainer over ice into pitcher or glasses & enjoy the best taste of summer you’ll ever have.   Perhaps while contemplating the following text by Albert Camus …

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger — something better, pushing right back. Let the situation be as cold as winter but the heat lies within you. “

moody monday

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Emma and I are moody.

When feeling under the weather (on the eve of a birthday)…make candy!

Emma wants some …

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( See her nose? )

 Honestly, I have not gone on a candy-making jag in years.  I used no recipe, just tossed ingredients ( about a cup of org. sugar, a bit more than half cube of salted butter, a glob of corn syrup, and a dash of cream) in a small saucepan over a low flame while cold-water testing until it was right. Poored in a buttered pyrex dish over a bed of chopped toasted almonds, then sprinkled more on top.  I ate a ton of it, it shook off the blues, and then I felt better.

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Oh, and knit something really amazing !!!  Anyway, the rest of it is just cozy, dark drizzling dank gorgeous wintery day, while drinking coffee, munching butter toffee and knitting. I will be home in my hermitage for the week just working on forthcoming design. 🙂

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How About A Cafe Frigetto !

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I’ve been going a bit wild with the pin-stripes lately, as you know,  and to fuel me through the tedium of miles upon miles of 1×1 rib, 2-stitch cord bind-off finishing, I’ve been keeping company these afternoons with my new drink I call ‘cafe frigetto’.  Its espresso, ice, more ice, and real cream (yes, heavy whipping cream, not half & half), and it’s ~~~~ frigid cold ~~~ and delish !!!!  It has helped stave off my afternoon hunger , and has zero carbs.

Here’s how : In a pint glass filled to the top with ice, pour 2 or 3 shots of fresh brew’d espresso over, stir vigorously until ice stops melting and then more ice to the top. Lastly, a generous amount of heavy cream poured over it all…sinking & swirling down…never quite making it. Nectar !!!

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