Lemon Loaf Cake for Neely’s Father

The Memory of Lemon by Judith Fertig is filled with vivid descriptions of tempting bakery treats. Each month, Neely’s bakery, Rainbow Cakes, features unique flavor profiles. Like lime bars with coconut crust and lime custard filling in April. Strawberry-Rhubarb hand pies in May. Apricot cakes and lavender cookies in June. But, throughout the novel, lemon is the one flavor she keeps returning to. Lemon is a flavor that evokes memories of her childhood and her family, and although neither were perfect, it’s a flavor that helps her heal as she confronts these memories.

Perhaps more importantly, she uses the flavor of lemon to reconnect with her estranged father. His struggle with PTSD following the Vietnam war along with his alcoholism made him feel his family would be better off without him. At the start of the novel, when his first letter arrives, Neely is reluctant to respond to the father that walked out her family. Throughout the course of the novel, she works through the anger she feels towards her father, and eventually she starts sending him care packages of lemon cookies in hopes that the memory of lemon will help him heal too.

Now, I am not a fan of lemon flavored sweets, yet I found myself dreaming up a list of desserts to whip up after reading this novel. Eventually, I settled on a simple lemon loaf cake drizzled with lemon scented honey. The flavor was buttery sweet and zesty lemon, which is exactly what I had hoped for. My only regret is polishing off the last of the Lemon Soleil Tea from Adagio Teas prior to this baking excursion.

Are there any flavors that evoke memories of your childhood or your family? (Mine would probably be my dad’s angel hair pasta, my mom’s sugar cookies, and banana pudding).

Pain au Chocolat for the Mistresses of Versailles

Upon finishing the Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie, two thoughts crossed my mind:

  2. Crap! I forgot to write down the food that was mentioned throughout the novel for my fictional food post.

Perhaps it was for the best because I think I recall reading about some jams or meats seared in other meat fats, neither of which I particularly wanted to experiment with. (Oh, also they ate a lot of asparagus in this book, which can be delicious, but doesn’t really make an enticing blog post).

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Biscuits and Gravy for the Ghoul Getters

The first time I ever tasted biscuits and gravy was at a Piggly Wiggly grocery store near Darien, Georgia (population: 1,700). I was about 13 years old, and I had been enjoying a family vacation with the company of my friend, Lauren. She was less than impressed by my family’s style of vacation; we dragged her through one historical-building-turned-museum after another and stuffed our faces with fudge. (What is it with tourist spots and fudge?) She just wanted to lay out by the warm, sandy water of the Gulf of Mexico that were used to, but all we had was a muddy stretch of the Atlantic. The next stop in our trip was St. Augustine, Florida (one of the coolest places I’ve ever visited), but we sought out breakfast before we hit the road.

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Tardis Tea Pot de Creme without Fish Fingers

I do not do a lot of cooking. My foray into savory dishes involves boiled pasta, canned sauces, and a side of microwavable vegetables. I don’t even bother with meat because it ends up either dry and crumbly or oddly, still raw. But as it turns out, I’m not too shabby at baking. But, even my baking skills stop at cookies. Albiet very, very delicious cookies. This Thanksgiving, I was a little daring in the kitchen, which is how I concocted the Earl Grey Pot de Creme with a Honey Lace Cookie pictured above. Doesn’t it look fancy?

I can’t take the credit for this one because I am not a foodie and I am not a cook. I followed this Martha Stewart recipe. I did make one alteration to the recipe, which is the choice of tea.

Tardis Tea by Aun-Juli Riddle and Adagio Teas
Tardis Tea by Aun-Juli Riddle and Adagio Teas

Tardis Tea, which you can purchase at Adagio Teas, lends itself to a wonderful and unique cup of Earl Grey tea. The caramel and vanilla creme (not mentioned in the picture) balances out the boldness of the black tea and extra kick of bergamot oil. One word of advice, only brew this one for three or four minutes max; anything longer and you run the risk of sipping on a bitter cup of tea.

But, back to the pot de creme because I still can’t stop thinking about it.

I was nervous about making it because 1. it was my Thanksgiving dessert and 2. I’ve never baked anything like it. However, the recipe was simple and surprisingly easy to execute. The outcome was divine.

I’ve never had “pot de creme”, so I’m not sure if my dessert turned out correctly. I was expecting a custard, something with the consistency of creme brule. That’s not was turned out, and I’m not complaining. The texture was a hybrid– rich and jiggly, like custard but also fluffy and airy, like mousse. The recipe mentions this dessert is “subtly infused”, which may have been the case if I just used straight, Earl Grey tea. Tardis Tea is a very flavorful tea however. The tea flavor would have been very prominent if it weren’t for the caramel and vanilla undertones. The steeping method may have also played a part; instead of steeping in water (which would be absurd), the leaves steeped in a bath of whole milk and heavy cream. The end result was unmistakably tea, but the creaminess mellowed the flavor. (WordPress is telling me I spelled “creaminess” incorrectly and is suggesting the word “dreaminess” instead, which is kind of the same thing in this case).

The honey lace cookie was an afterthought. I wasn’t going to make them until I realized the recipe called for 4 ingredients and took less than 10 minutes to make, baking included. The honey lace cookie makes me think of the burnt sugar atop of creme brule, with a hint of honey. They were delicious, their crunch added a bit of excitement to the dessert, and they look fancy.

Baking a custard sounds challenging, but I assure you this recipe is simple. It’s also inexpensive to make since people will have most, if not all, of the ingredients in their cupboards and fridge. And the outcome is absolutely rewarding. Trust me when I say, this dessert needs to be in your life.