San Francisco Symphony

When Life Gives You Lemons…

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Photo courtesy of flickr/alpha

By Hannah Patzke
Staff Writer

Lemon season for the Bay Area is just around the corner and I usually find myself with an excess of lemons to use.  For reasons unfathomable to my roommates and me, the previous owners of our house planted not one, not two, but rather 11 lemon trees. 

Now, don’t misunderstand me.  I understand the joy of citrus.  I was that little girl on your street who made a lemonade stand every summer and sold glasses of free squeezed juice for a quarter.  But 11 trees entirely full of lemons seems a bit excessive.  Why not throw in an orange tree?  Or really mix it up with some kiwi and avocado (I may be revealing my novice gardener status here—I have no idea if these trees would grow in our climate)?  Yet the fact remains that we have 11 trees full to bursting with lemons every spring.  So what to do? 

The three of us make gallons of lemonade and freeze some.  We dutifully load our cars each year with bags and bags of fresh lemons to give away free to our coworkers.  We pondered the idea of bonding with the local bars by trucking in coolers full of lemons each week.  We made lemon cream cheese mints, lemon bars and lemon pie (just like key lime pie, but with lemons). 

Finally we came up with the idea of a lemon-themed banquet.  So, we invited over all of our friends one Saturday and had a European style, full course dinner based solely on lemons.  Lemon margaritas and mojitos were served along with a goat cheese, lemon and smoked salmon appetizer.  Avgolemono (Greek Lemon Soup) was followed with lemon chicken and lemon risotto. 

Finally we ended the night with lemon cheesecake.  Our large party of friends deemed the night quite a success.  As I watch the lemon blossoms slowly turn towards fruit I start my search for new lemon-themed recipes for our next lemon-themed banquet.

Recipe for Avgolemono

  • 4–5 cups of chopped vegetables (usually we use an onion, some carrots, celery, fennel or leeks)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 8 cups water or vegetable stock
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup long grain white rice already cooked
  • 4 eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/4  to ½ cup lemon juice to taste (approximately 2 lemons)

Directions

Stir fry vegetables in oil until the onions are no longer opaque (approx. five minutes). 

Then add vegetables to water/stock and simmer for an hour. 

Beat the lemon juice and eggs together in a small bowl and whisk about a cup of the hot broth into the lemon/egg mixture. 

Once they are whisked together pour the lemon/egg mixture all into the larger pot of broth and mix together over low heat. 

Blend together, add salt to taste and serve hot.  You can also serve this with chopped chicken incorporated into the soup as a main dish.

Hannah Patzke is a first-year Masters of Nursing student in health policy.

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