Monday, November 19, 2007

Heat and Ice

She, the dog, was useless on Friday. Utterly useless. By 4.30, the air had warmed up and the sun was beating on our backs. The park was practically empty, ours to wander, blissfully, without interruption. She panted in the heat, tongue lolling, seeking the shade of every, single, tree. I know how she feels. We are not alone in our dread of the impending Australian summer. It’s going to be a long hot one.

Saturday morning: armed with bags of soil, he filled the long wooden troughs, ‘rubbish’ rescued under cover of dark, each one stencilled, enigmatically, with the number 920. These wooden, movable garden beds are perfect for renters, keen to learn but lacking permanent roots; allowing us to discover just how much sun each plant can take. They’ll get precious little water, these babies. They’ll need to be tough. This garden is a jumble of pots, empty olive oil tins and found objects; a travelling garden of familiar, favourite bits. A little chaotic, but perfect for practice. Gardening, practical, getting-your-hands-and-knees-dirty gardening, teaches you things that books and even the odd interstate phone call to a gardener-father, cannot.

I watched on, sorting through packets of seeds ordered, on a whim, months ago. Crookneck squash, Bull’s Blood beetroot, French Breakfast radishes, silverbeet “Vulcan Red”. More rocket, so successful has it been. Basil, two kinds, and another pot of borage, though I’ve no idea what one does with the stuff. He lugged earth; I got my fingernails dirty. We were toasting thick slices of Challah and brewing a pot of ginger-spiked tea in less than an hour.

Clouds rolled in at noon, bringing heavy, delicious drops of rain that fell, briefly, satisfyingly, on the newly planted. As it passed, trailing fresher, cleaner air, the windows and doors were flung wide open. The temperature drop is immediate and reviving. Right now, before it’s hot enough to stagger the uninitiated and stupefy even the well-versed; before January’s bushfires hang, threateningly, in the air, hot days are something special. It’s like standing, toes tightly gripped, on the edge of summer. One hand grasping the last of the asparagus, in disbelief that spring – amazingly – has been and gone, the other reaching, longingly, toward the bounty of the months and, with some luck, our garden ahead.


Dessert is often an afterthought around here. The main event holds more interest to my way of thinking. But with hot days and nights snaking in, earlier than expected, and a gift in the shape of an ice cream churn to master (she’s a good sort, my mum), I’ve been thinking about the last course a lot more of late. Not something cloyingly sweet – too hot for that. Lemons, the very last of them, for a cool ending to Friday night and, as it turned out, Saturday night too.

Lemon Yoghurt Ice – for 4

My notes read, ‘Three to four lemons. All you’ll need.’ The tree in the front garden had exactly four fruit left worth eating. What are the chances? You’ll need both a food processor and an ice cream churn for this, but more people seem to have these pieces of hardware than I used to think. You can make it with all yoghurt too – 1 cup of vanilla swapped for the pure cream would lower the fat content considerably. Or so I like to think.


3-4 lemons, unwaxed and organic if possible
2/3 cup of caster sugar
1 cup of pure (single) cream
1 cup of thick, tangy natural yoghurt

Zest the lemons and whiz together for 1 minute with the sugar in a food processor. Squeeze the lemons, strain (you’ll need 6 tablespoons of juice) and add to the sugar and zest and whiz again – the sugar should start to dissolve.

Add the cream and yoghurt and pulse, quickly, 3-4 times, just to combine. Chill for 30 minutes before freezing, according to the manufacturers instructions, in an ice cream churn. Best eaten on the day it’s made, but for the next couple of days it will be good too – just make sure that you place the container in the fridge for 20-30 minutes before you serve to soften, just a little.



This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging #110 hosted this week by Truffle from What's on My Plate for Kalyn Denny, creator of this weekly event.


26 comments:

Anh said...

Oh yes, the heat! I was doing a lot of houswork chore yesterday and it was damn hot. Truly need a cool drink and get my ice-cream maker out (where is it, anyway?)

Love your lemony sorbet. I ate two real nice sorbets at Attica on Sat, and have been in the mood for more since. But before I got my ice-cream maker out, a lemondae with a touch of ice and tiny bit of orange blossom water will do!

maninas said...

on a totally unrelated note: have you read alessandro baricco's 'il novecento'? that's the name of the book, and it can be found in english, too. the main character is an amazing pianist who lives on an ocean liner/cruiser. he is an orphan, adopted by a man working in a shipyard. the man loves names, and gives him all sorts of funny names, one of which is - Lemoni / lemone - Lemon! He got the idea after he saw a box of lemons... :) that's what your two first photos reminded me off. like a flash from that man's memory. :)

kathryn said...

Poor dog - totally understand the wilting and need for shade.

Lovely to have a little garden on the way. We have silverbeet, mint, tomatoes, wild strawberries and pickable lettuce at various stages of growth.

They are surviving with sparse amounts of water. Basically they get the run-off from the vegetables I wash for dinner. Collected in a bucket and then drizzled over them every few days. They're okay at the moment, but not sure how that will go in the height of summer.

Kalyn said...

I did smile at the post title, since I'm here in Utah with plenty of ice and longing for heat, and you have heat but want to make ice. Good luck with the gardening. I think there is nothing quite so satisfying as growing your own food. Lemon sorbet sounds wonderful, but it's too cold here for anything like that right now.

Christina said...

Just as your meyer lemons are finishing, ours are beginning. I put a large jar away in salt for preserving, and have added a few to marmalade, but I'm looking forward to months of enjoying them before they fade. This frozen yogurt is a great idea to do just that.

I'm very excited to see how your garden grows. Here, silverbeet/chard, beets, rocket/arugula, and many other green things are only fall-to-early spring crops. They can't handle our heat during the summer. Tomatoes, squash, peppers and basil love the heat though, and so that's what we grow when it gets hot. I've always thought of our climates as similar--perhaps yours allows more flexibility of seasons than what we have here. I'm so curious to watch the developments of your garden that I hope grows beautifully for you.

Susan said...

Mmmmmm...lemony frozen dessert...it was on our list of summer to-do's but got away this year. It will not escape in 2008. Neither will planting "Vulcan Red" chard in my mother's garden plot. What a stunner!

Delighted you finally got that churn. From now on, you will always feel a little cheated by store-bought treats.

winedeb said...

Your little wonderful garden, mostly in containers, looks like mine. Just keeping us company close by. I look forward to your harvests! I am attempting pole beans in a container this year for the first time. We shall see...
Lucy, I know I have told you this before, but your writing just takes me to another "world". Keep up these beautiful posts!

katiez said...

My dogs hate the heat..and hate the damp cold, which we're having right now. Basically they're happy for about 3 months a year ;-)
Love the lemon fro-yo (frozen yogurt)...although, today I'm thinking soup...

Figs Olives Wine said...

Beautiful! What a nice post, Lucy. It's rather tenuous right at the start of summer, isn't it? You can't stop the inevitable momentum that's ending spring, you don't really want to either, but you know what you're in for...
Love the sound of your garden.

Sophie said...

Lovely though Australia is, I don't envy you the Summers. Hopefully all of your plants will thrive nevertheless (at least you will get to find out which varieties can tolerate the heat best).

Yogurt and lemon is a lovely combination, definitely worth using up your last few lemons for (one of my favourite organic yogurt brands has started making a lemon curd yogurt and I can't stop buying it).

Wendy said...

It's probably a very good thing that I live in a cool climate. Heat makes me VERY lazy. Doubt I'd do anything if it were over 20oC every day. Yes, 20oC. That's pretty hot here. :)
It's an exciting time, planting. Quite envious.
I need an ice cream maker. This sounds amazing.

Lucy said...

Anh, get that ice-cream maker our as soon as possible! How was Attica? Your lemonade drink sounds great!

Maninas, no I haven't read 'Il Novecento', but I will now. Sounds great - isn't it great the way that a truly good piece of literature stays with you? Thanks very much for the recommendation - I've been reading a lot of Indian literature of late and feel as though I need something a bit different.

Last year Kathryn, I went without a shower for a coule of days so I could give the poor plants a bit of water...but yeah, mostly I do the same. I put some lettuces in on the weekend too - I read that those bags of salad greens are little more than a chemical cocktail beacause they are grown hydroponically a few weeks ago and now am determined to have my own (with actual nutrients, from the soil)!

It is funny Kalyn, that our seasons couldn't be more different. I actually quite like ice creamy things in the winter too - especially after a huge, warming meal.

It's always sad to see something go Christina, but that's the beauty of seasons. You never get over the thrill of seeing the first mango of the season simultaneously waving goodbye to the Meyers. I'm kinda doubtful about some of the things we planted growing at this time of the year - our weather is very closely aligned - but I'm testing what the packets say versus my own instinct. We'll see who wins (hopefully, it's the plants...)!

How could I resist 'Vulcan Red' Susan!? The seedlings have sprouted already and yes, they have stalks of a deep, bright red. You know what? I can't go back to store-bought ice cream now. And I can't be stopped. Not that the boys around here mind...

Deb, you are so lovely. One of the most interesting things about blogging, for me, has been the support fellow writers give one another. I'd love to have you over for dinner and show you around! I can't wait for photos of your beans.

Katie, that's hilarious - must say, my dogs lack of enthusiasm for heat matches my own...

It's a work in progress this garden Amanda, and I'm learning all the time. Our summers go on and on and so, for a lover of cold weather like myself, getting enthusiastic about the heat is a bit tricky. But there will be tomatoes, mangoes, peaches, neactarines, grapes...endless goodies. Musn't whinge!

Sophie! Lemon curd yoghurt!!!! That sounds in-credible. Would make a fabulous frozen yoghurt. Good idea that...

Wendy, you do need an ice cream churn. Seriously, you do. Ah, the bliss of a 20 degree summer. I could cry...what are you planting?

Callipygia said...

I love the cryptic "920" mixed in with the various names/colors of your garden inhabitants! It is so much fun to play and see what happens. As for borage it has a delightful blue star shaped flower. The leaves can be used (young) fresh in salads (tastes vaguely like cucumbers) and can be made into tinctures. It is good for giving people courage and assisting them to lighten up! Stay cool.

Laurie Constantino said...

I just got a box with the four largest meyer lemons I've ever seen. There is yogurt and cream in the refrigerator, and all necessary tools on the counter. I've been looking for the perfect light dessert to have on Thanksgiving, and you've kindly provided it. And aside from the recipe, your prose is lovely; good writing is always a treat.

Rosa said...

Sounds like just my kind of dessert, winter or summer. We might not have hot weather here at the moment, but we do have plenty of lemons.

Truffle said...

This sounds insanely good Lucy. Absolutely beautiful! Thank you so much for contributing. The roundup will be posted on Monday.

Wendy said...

Not planting anything just now. Or, indeed, planning to plant anything over the winter. I'm letting my soil hibernate. :)

Lucy said...

Thanks Callipygia - those little star-like blue flowers will be wonderful to eat. I could do with some courage over the next few months!

Thanks Laurie - it would be a lovely, light ending to a Thanksgiving feast. Hope you enjoy it, and happy holiday to you!

Rosa, I love lemmony cold things at the end of rich, wintery meals too.

Looking forward to it Tuffle. A post-election herbal post to relax us all!

Very wise Wendy. Of course - not sure what I was thinking...it's good to let the land lie fallow, to regenerate. I guess the plants would struggle to break through the snow and ice anyway!

Nora B. said...

Hi Lucy,
That's very good use of your last 4 lemons.

It's suddenly gotten cool and wet again in Sydney the last two days. Just my luck - I packed away my jumpers two days ago too!

I leave the gardening and planting to my partner because I don't want to be blamed when something goes wrong. ;-) The neighbour's cat has been frolicking and rubbing herself on our garden patch, I don't know why...I first noticed this when some of our herbs look flattened. Luckily I love cats, or else....

Have a good weekend ahead, Lucy.

kate said...

The thought of heat and summer makes me smile as our days grow shorter and colder. The lemon sorbet looks delicious!

Laurie Constantino said...

Thanks Lucy, I did make this and it was as good as I thought it would be!

Holler said...

I am feeling very jealous, it is so cold and dark here!
Your photos are really a high point, reminding me of a long gone summer!

Cynthia said...

awww, poor chap.

Lucy said...

Nora, that's hilarious - I did too. And then we had a day of continuos rain and 16 degrees. Had to dig around for a cardigan and scarf - typical! I find it hard to keep our cat Rosie out of the garden - why do cats love freshly turned earth?

Hi Kate - likewise it's comforting to me that cold weather is enveloping you guys. Gives me a moment or two of joy just thinking about freezing temperatures...

Yey Laurie - serving it with blueberries was excellent thinking!

Ta, Holler. There will be a lot to come - maybe you can warm your hands around the computer screen as I post about the ENDLESS heat...;)

She IS pathetic Cynthia - but she's kinda cute about it!

VegeYum @ A Life (Time) of Cookin said...

Here our weather has been beautiful - not too hot yet, just delightful. But eventually we are hotter than Melbourne and Sydney, often around 40C. The only topic of conversation becomes the weather. We wait incessantly for a cool change.

Love the lemon yoghurt ice. It is now my list to make soon.

Lucy said...

And, Vegeyum, you have less water than the rest of us too.

It does become very, very difficult not to talk and worry about the heat all summer long. I for one though, never, ever complain about the winter. Don't think too many people do anymore!