Posted by: Rachel | February 21, 2010

oranges and lemons and limes, oh my!

My citrus trees are itching (if trees can itch) to get back outside. I’ve told then, quite firmly, that they have to wait a few more weeks. It was easy when I had just one Meyer lemon. I happily hauled the pot in and out all winter long, babying it every time the weather folk warned of a frost but giving it sunny days in the sheltered area by the front door. Now that I have expanded to about 15 trees, it isn’t so easy. I bring them all in at the first mention of a real cold snap and in they stay until early March, no matter how balmy the days.

citrus jungle in the spare room

happy cat among the trees

I love having my own lemons, limes, and kumquats (first year for the kumquats). I also have calamondins , two, in big pots, outside my front door. These little sour “oranges” make wonderful orangeade, can be squeezed into tea, or used anywhere one would use a lemon. The rind is actually sweeter than the flesh so they are *very* good zested for baking. The plants are lovely too. They are the only citrus I know that flower year-round, so one gets the heady scent of the blossoms at the same time the ripe fruit are ready for use.

calmondin fruit

an orange in the hand is worth...

This spring I hope to make a marmalade with the calamondins. I’ll let you know both the “how” and the result when it happens. Today I’m too busy enjoying the weather to do any cooking. Mid-70s and sunny before it freezes again next week. I’m off to have a conversation with my peach tree about how it is just too soon to start blooming. Wish me luck, I hope it listens!

3-bowl Orange Banana Bread

1 cup sugar
1/2 stick butter, cool but not cold
1/2 T calamondin or orange zest, chopped very fine
1/2 t lemon or orange extract
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 soft, ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour a loaf pan.

In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter together and set aside. In a smaller bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs slightly and mix with bananas and extract. Whisk the banana mixture and the flour mixture into the butter/sugar, mix thoroughly but do not overwork.

Pour banana bread batter into 1 greased and floured loaf pan; bake at 325° for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. This banana nut bread recipe makes 1 loaf.

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