Sweet Potato Persimmon Cookies

img_4246Love the combination of two classic flavors of fall in this cookie. The combination makes for a super soft nutritious cookie that you can even serve at breakfast. I add chopped pecans and oats to make a very filling cookie, and chocolate chips to entice my littles. We make an annual visit to the Maino Ranch in Knights Ferry, to pick persimmons at the ancient Hachyia persimmon tree. We then bring home the fruits of our labor, waiting for when they turn just ripe enough to scoop out their sweet flesh for use in cooking. Having never been a persimmon fan before discovering this tree, I now love them, both the cooking ( Hachyia) and the eating (Fuyu) variety. I enjoy this new tradition and watching the kids play and climb under the big tree. See our recipe using Persimmons for Christmas Jam from last year! This recipe is a great way to use left over sweet potatoes and pecans from your traditional thanksgiving dishes! img_4141

Persimmon Sweet Potato Cookies                                                       Yield: 24 Cookies 

Ingredients: img_4248

  • 3/4 C Mashed Sweet Potato Puree
  • 3/4 C Persimmon Pulp
  • 1/2 C Butter (softened)
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 C Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1 tsp Ginger
  • 1/2 C Oats
  • 1/2 C Chopped and roasted Pecans

Directions: Pre-Heat Oven to 350 F. In bowl of stand mixer, mix on high sugar, puree, pulp, and butter until fluffy. Add egg on slow until just combined. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl.

 

Slowly mix in dry ingredients into wet, stopping to scrape bowl. Fold in chocolate chips, pecans, and oats. Drop hearty size Tbsp dollops onto parchment lined baking sheet.

 

Bake for approx 25 minutes until cooked through. Enjoy!

Dairy Man’s Dream; No-Rise, No- Knead, Quick Parmesan Bread

img_3785Why is this bread called “Dairy Man’s Dream”? It has cheese, yogurt, milk, and butter! I adapted this recipe from “Bread Illustrated” written by the editors of America’s Test Kitchen. I have loved this book, all the recipes have great step by step illustrations. Bread is intimidating for me and this book really helps me understand the process of making bread so I can, well, actually make bread! In fact this recipe was done with my 2 year old!

I tried this recipe out last night, we did not have bread for dinner and the kids were up to make something. I almost pulled our bread machine out, (the kids call him “crunchy robot”) but I put him back and flipped through the cook book instead. I love the idea of no knead quick bread you can literally make in 10 minutes pop in oven and serve! The recipe called for sour cream and I substituted my farm fresh yogurt instead. I also omitted the cheddar cheese and added extra parm. The results were impressive and my dairy man of a husband happy after another long day at the new barn.

Ingredients:                                                                                                   

  • 2 1/2 C All Purpose Flour img_3790
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Tsp Salt
  • 3 Tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 3/4 C Yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp Melted Butter
  • 2 Cups Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Directions: Pre heat oven to 350 F. Melt Butter over low heat. Whisk in milk, salt and yogurt. Set aside.

Mix flour baking soda, pepper and 1 C of the cheese. Butter a 8″ x 4″ pan and sprinkle 1/2 C Parmesan cheese on bottom. Fold wet ingredients into dry, until just incorporated. Do not over mix!

Dough will be very heavy and lumpy. Place in prepared bread pan and smooth top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake approx 45 minutes until golden brown! Let cool at least 30 minutes, slice and serve with more butter of course!

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The kids helping at the new barn

The Big Barn Break-In with “Chili Style Stew” and Corn Bread

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What a week! We now have 300 cows milking at the robotic barn. The girls, (cows and wives)  are loving it! They really just need encouraging to get into the milking stall, but most of the cows are now walking in themselves to be milked. It is so quiet and peaceful in the barn. So far so good as we look towards the next week and the boys now left to run the barn without help. We know there will be challenges ahead, but I am so proud of my husband, uncle Jack and our family. We are beyond thankful to be a part of family and community that is supporting us in this amazing venture!img_3579

The first night shift we served this chili out of a crock pot for the crew. We were blown away at the sacrifices our friends and family made to help out for the night.  I watched as more faces continued to appear in the glow of the new barn lights to help out!  My heart was warmed and I  just hoped the chili could feed everyone!

This recipe is almost a cross between a stew and a chili, it has hearty vegetables including potatoes, combined with both black and pinto beans in a sweet and savory sauce made of molasses, beer, and balsamic. I add lots of nutmeg and fresh black pepper to layer warmth. Serve along side you favorite cornbread, I use Dave’s Famous, and add 1/2 c of my dairy farm fresh Yogurt to the recipe! Feel free to use other vegetables and double recipe for even larger crowds!

“Chili Style Stew” 

Ingredients:                                                                          Yield: Approx. 10 Servings

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  • 1 yellow onion – diced
  • 4-5 Medium potatoes cubed
  • 3 Clerey Stalks – diced
  • 3 Large carrots – diced
  • 3 Jalopenos- seeded and diced
  • 2 15 oz Cans of Pinto Beans
  • 2 15 oz Cans Black Beans
  • 1 32 oz can Baked Beans
  • 4 Cloves garlic minced
  • 1/3 C Molasses
  • 1/3 C Ketchup
  • 1/4 C Balsalmic
  • 1/4 C Olive Oil
  • 1/3 C Sierra Nevada (Preferred!) Beer
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Nutmeg
  • Meat: pulled pork, sausage, ground beef or a combinations of all (used here)

Directions: Using heavy bottom pot or cast iron, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic, onion and celery, salt and stir until translucent.

Add the carrots, jalapeno and potato, sauteing an additional 5 minutes over medium heat. Stir in meat and brown for 5-10 minutes. Add the beans, all of them! Stir to combine for a few minutes. Next add Molasses, nutmeg, ketchup, black pepper and balsamic and let cook stirring occasionally for an additional 5 minutes.

Add the beer and taste. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

Taste and adjust seasoning. recommend simmering 3 hours or more to thicken and bring out flavors. May be made ahead and reheated! Enjoy!

Jalapeno Overload; A Confession- Recipe for Cheesy Jalapeno Cauliflower Rice & Beans, and an Aioli

img_2514I have a confession for our community “Gospel Garden.” If you have visited you would guess that either the Modesto Gospel Mission loves jalapenos, or I do. By far the most prolific plant that has grown, in pace with the tomatoes, are the jalapenos. I never knew that the plants could reach 5 ft tall! I think we had around 50 plants donated, and each bush puts out around 20 peppers! Well my confession is this, it was a mistake. A friend of mine asked how many peppers we would like when he made his donation. I was thinking bell peppers for the salad bar, turns out they were jalapenos. Should have asked! I have new found love for these peppers after this summer. They have been such a blessing at our garden. We found that kids love them when you remove the seeds they are not all that hot, and make for an exciting snack! Many were used by the mission and given to neighbors and family. I have found many fun recipes, and they make an excellent addition to marinara sauce, stir fry, breads, pizza and on! Below are two recent recipes.

With the change in weather I  was excited to create something warm and homey. This cauliflower rice dish is great way for kids to get there vegetables, and to avoid a starch overload. Super simple to make, kids can help! Can either be a great side dish or the star of the show. Simple to make, cauliflower rice is now a staple in our home. Think of this recipe as a great way to clean your fridge of vegetables that need to be used. Use here! get creative! I use my marinara and farm fresh yogurt: OK to use store bought of course! Also below another fun way to use jalapenos; make an Aioli, (fancy word for garlic mayo). Below is a recipe inspired by my mom, who used a jalapeno aioli with fish tacos at our last visit to her place on the coast.

Cheesy Cauliflower Rice                                                                  Yield: 6 large servings

Ingredients:img_2526

  • 4 Jalapenos, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 C Shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 Stalks Celery, chopped
  • 1 Can Pinto Beans
  • 2 C Cauliflower Rice
  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 2 Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 C  Chopped leeks, squash or other extra vegetable from garden or fridge.
  • 1/2 C Yogurt
  • 1/2 C Marinara Sauce
  • 4 Tbsp Butter

Directions:

In saute pan over medium heat, melt butter, add onion, celery and saute until translucent around 8 minutes.

Add cauliflower rice and cook an additional 8 minutes. Once cooked through add tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add beans, yogurt and marinara. Mix well and then add cheese. Serve once cheese is melted and ingredients warmed through Enjoy!

Simple Jalapeno Aioli

Directions:

Place 4 chopped jalapenos, 1 C mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp yogurt, 3 cloves of garlic and blend! That’s it! Feel free to fool with the portions. This makes approx 2 cups of sauce. Use on sandwiches, burgers, pasta, tacos and on!

Without Sugar; Wild Huckleberry Muffins!

img_2547This was an unusual summer season on the northern coast of California. Visiting my parents over labor day weekend I was surprised at the heat. Cooler than the valley where I had made my escape from, but still unusually warm. This was reflected by an abundance of wild huckleberries. They were everywhere on my parent’s property, lining driveways and trails. These delicate berries are similar in taste to a sweet cranberry or tart blueberry. They are dark blue in color, but some are a rare vibrant red.

We had such a fun time gathering handfuls with family. The boys loved to see how many they could find and proudly present them to their Pops. We ate so many, I did not come home with many left. What I did have I used with the boys to make the wild huckleberry toppings for these muffins. These muffins are very similar to my “One Pot- Blank Canvas” Muffins. I love the no-fuss versatility of a muffin, and the ability to pack some serious nutrition in a meal on the go for the whole family. This recipe used my raw yogurt and replaced refined sugar with maple syrup. I also used quail eggs from our neighbors, not to be fancy but simply because I had no eggs! Just use 2 large eggs in place, unless of course you just happen to have quail eggs on hand. These muffins were cherished and extra shared.

Wild Huckleberry Muffins

Ingredients:                                                                          Yield: 24 Large Muffins

  • 3 Cups Whole Wheat Flourimg_2557
  • 1 C All Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 C Oats
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 C Butter
  • 1 C Yogurt (Plain)
  • 1 1/2 C Maple Syrup
  • 2 eggs (or 8 quail eggs)
  • 1 1/2 Huckleberry (or other berry- Blue, black, raspberry, strawberry)

Directions: 

Place berries and 2 Tbsp maple syrup in large pot. Bring to simmer over high heat and add 2 Tbsp corn starch. Once warmed and bubbling, puree with handheld immersion blender, (or place in blender once cooled). Pour into bowl and set aside. img_2558

Place pot back over low heat (without washing, yippee!). Add the butter and stir until just melted, then turn off heat. Scrape the sides to get any berry bits into the mix. Add Oats, salt, maple syrup and yogurt, Stirring to combine.

Sift over pot the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Make a small well in dry ingredients, and add eggs. Whisk eggs in well with fork until yoke is well mixed. Slowly fold dry and wet ingredients until just combined.

Add to muffin tins, filling to just about the top. Using a spoon, place a large dollop in middle of muffin batter in each tin. Push down towards bottom to incorporate the berries into the muffin as well.

Place in 350 F oven for 18- 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool on racks. Enjoy!

 

 

Creamy Summer Squash Soup with Roasted Chicken

img_1827Looking for a way to use all your summer squash and serve a healthy meal the whole family will love, while also freezing tons of extra for later use or gifts? This recipe will meet all those needs. It is a great, fresh way to get the kids to eat your garden veggies. This soup is amazingly satisfying for those on a low-carbohydrate diet or those trying to eat a healthier whole food based diet. I added Jalapenos from our Gospel Garden to our abundant harvest of crook neck squash and onion from our home garden. To this I also added our farm fresh home made raw yogurt. Make extra to freeze for soups and sauces during the winter months. The spicy kick will also serve those who need a nourishing soup during cold and flu season.

Summer Squash Soup                                                              Yield: Approx. 15 Cups

Ingredients:

  • 10-15 Crook Neck Squash, coarsely chopped.

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    My helpers!

  • 1 Small White Onion, diced.
  • 4 Cloves Garlic bruised.
  • 5 Jalapenos, sliced, seeded and cored.
  • 4 Tbs Olive oil
  • 3 Tbs Butter (no margarine please!)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • 2 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 Cup Yogurt 
  • 1 C Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

Heat olive oil, onion, jalapenos and garlic until onion becomes translucent. Add squash, butter, salt and pepper.

Heat for 20 -30 minutes, ever so often stirring the squash to help break down. Add chicken stock and cook an additional 30 minutes until squash is slightly mushy and cooked through. Let cool and puree in blender in batches. Rinse out original pan. Return puree to pan and place in medium heat. Add yogurt and cheese and whisk to incorporate.

Serve warm or cold and topped with roast chicken breast, and accompanying a loaf of french bread.

For the Chicken : My method for roasting chicken is simple- choose bone in, skin on chicken breasts, season with salt and pepper, a little olive oil and cover with foil. Bake in 375 F oven for 45- 50 minutes, (or until an internal temperature of 170 F). Remove foil and brown an additional 10 minutes. Remove breast from rib before serving in soup if desired, or serve as is on the side!

 

 

 

The “Gospel Garden” and a recipe for Salsa Con Queso

Early winter of 2016 myself and enlisted help including Cody Simar of Central Valley Sustainability and my dear husband met with the director at the Modesto Gospel Mission to discuss a future community garden at their existing 1 acre plot surrounded by employee housing, and located a block behind the mission itself.

Approaching the site I knew this was the spot. Since this time we have been blessed to have many hands volunteer and come together to donate, plant, care for and harvest from this garden. We have affectionately named our garden the “Gospel Garden.”

Some crops have not worked out, we have had weeds overtake some of our lettuce and tomatoes. We have put in a lot of work to keep up with our first year at this new site. Yet, every time I visit the garden, when I feel overwhelmed at the work, at the weeds, at what needs to be done and when I can barely keep up with the kids, animal, and yard at home, I come away with a sense of calm. Chris, a resident at the mission, will usually stroll out and remind me of just how much the garden is giving. He tells me he places tomatoes in neighbors mailboxes up and down the street; that families in the community come to garden and pick lettuce, peppers or tomatoes. Rita a volunteer informs me that the salad bar at the mission has never looked so good. (I owe a huge thank you to Westurf Nursery, Rick Grey of Plant a Seed Foundation and Waterford Irrigation Supply Inc as well as many others!!)

We had the opportunity to have a local Girl Scout troop visit our garden and we took along children from the mission as well. It was a day of discovery for many kids, including one young girl who informed me this was he first trip off the mission without her parents. As we took the five minute walk from the Children’s Center holding hands I couldn’t help but feel prideful as people peered from their windows in a neighborhood that is constantly on the look out for what is wrong, and instead catching a glimpse of what is right.

On one field trip morning, I remember feeling particularly overwhelmed and disappointed; that the corn had all died, that weeds were overtaking our garden, and that there was a huge leak in our drip causing mud and more weeds to grow among the melons. As I took the kids to the garden that same day I was again reminded of of useless our doubts are.  The kids could have cared less about the weeds, or the dried up corn, instead they exclaimed over tomatoes, melons, and bravely tasted jalapenos. One boy asked with hope, “Can we come next week again, and bring cheese this time for the tomatoes!” The joy this boy had found here replaced any feelings of failure I had had just an hour ago. What a reminder that God requires of us not to be perfect, but to simply give what we can and look for the blessings in each small thing; and that all our anxieties need to be reexamined, surrendered to and handed over to something much greater than ourselves. Something that says its ok, and that is satisfied with the smile and thank you of a child.

In looking for a delicious and versatile way to use our tomatoes and jalapenos harvested on our last field trip with the Children’s Center, I thought of Salsa Con Queso. This one is dedicated to Angela who gives her heart and soul to her kids at the mission, who made an amazing salsa to share with the Children’s Center, (made from vegetables from the Gospel Garden), and and who loves cheese. I give you the best of both worlds. img_1652

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Salsa Con Queso

  • 6-10 Ripe Tomatoes (of any variety)
  • 5 Jalapenos (more or less depending on desire for heat) Cored
  • 3 Large Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Large White Onion
  • 3 Large Squash (yellow or zuchinni)
  • 1/2 Head Roasted Cauliflower (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 Tbsp Flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Cups shredded cheddar cheese or blend.
  • 1/2 C Greek Yogurt (see recipe for homemade)

Directions: Coarsely chop all vegetables. In heavy bottomed pot heat vegetables with salt until softened. Add butter, melt and then add flour. Simmer until easily pierced with fork. Use immersion blender to puree vegetables.

May use blender for smoother consistency, cool to room temp before blending. Add Cheese and yogurt. Stir until melted and incorporated. Serve and enjoy! Use as a dip for bread, crackers, or chips. Best served warm. Try on your favorite sandwiches, tacos or as pasta sauce tossed with olive oil.

Our dairy farm’s future, the strawberry patch and a recipe for Molasses Ginger Strawberry Muffins.

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Is this a time that everyone is uncertain? I know my husband and I are. My husband, Jon, his brother Jack and his father are dairy farmers. Their grandfather came from Holland to start this dairy in the central valley region of California. Since their grandfather’s time much has changed and the dairy seems to be on its own little island while all around it things are changing. Clinging to ideals and a passion for dairy farming has kept this dairy alive. Sad to say making a profit in the dairy industry has become increasingly harder. This is due to many factors, cost of production, regulations, cost of labor and a lack of a skilled consistent labor force. Jon and partners have chosen to try robotic milking. After visiting many robotic milking houses in the mid west, Jon and Jack were excited and sure that robotics are the future of dairy farming.

My husband will be the first to tell you that we really don’t know if it is. But what we do know is that if we want to continue milking cows something needs to change. We have to at least try, and what are farmers if not pioneers. Every year farmers take risks and bear the elements, battle the ever changing social climate and push forward in hopes to continue a way of life that nourishes our communities and families.

We have a small garden that the kids and I planted at the dairy last year. It did alright, and supplied some employees with fresh lettuce and other veggies. The strawberries we had planted did horrible. At the end of the season I tore out the wilting lettuce, fried zucchini plants and tired peppers, but the strawberries seemed to be greener. I left them and forgot all about the plants during fall and winter. Spring of this year my husband called saying I had better get to the dairy and pick the strawberries. “What Strawberries?” I replied wearily, having just got in from yard work. He informed me that plump, red strawberries littered the  old dairy garden spot. As the kids and I returned to the dairy garden I was amazed to see amidst all the weeds were the same strawberry plants, but with fresh glittering red strawberries ready to be picked. we cleaned up the weeds and began caring for and harvesting the strawberries we had given up on. We  have picked many times this spring continuing now into summer. Our prayers for our dairy are patient hopeful ones. Prayers that through doing things for the right reasons, not giving up when all seems impossible, nourishing our business then watching and waiting, we will see a sustainable, joyful future for an industry so deserving of a fruitful fate.

To learn more about robotic milking visit https://www.lely.com/us/the-barn/milking/

img_1232Using our strawberries we made these delicious muffins to share with the dairy employees. I wanted to try something different, a little spice and warmth from the cinnamon, ginger and molasses to contrast the sweet strawberry sauce that tops these buttery muffins. Enjoy!

Molasses and Ginger Strawberry Muffins      

Ingredients:                                                                                         Yield: Approx 20           Sauce:

  • 2 Pints Fresh Strawberries
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 Tbs Lemon juice

Muffins:

  • 1 1/2 C Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 1/2 C All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Ginger
  • 2 Tsp Salt
  • 2 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Sticks Butter
  • 1/2 C Yogurt (Try my Homemade Yogurt Recipe)
  • 1/3 C Molasses
  • 1/2 C Sugar
  • 2 Eggs

Directions: 

Pre heat oven to 350 F. Use Pam Baking Spray to prepare your muffins tins. Make the strawberry sauce first. Clean and cut strawberries in half place in large saucepan over medium heat.

Add sugar and lemon juice. Simmer stirring occasionally and until cooked through (approx. 15 minutes). Using immersion blender puree until smooth in pan. let cool slightly and pour into jars leaving about 1/4 of the mixture in pan.

Use the jarred strawberry sauce for other desserts, on top of pancakes or ice cream. May be preserved or frozen for future use.

Using same large pan without cleaning, melt butter slowly on low heat. Stir the melted butter into the strawberry sauce. Add yogurt, molasses and sugar and stir to combine with whisk.

Sift flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Make a well in flour and add the eggs. Stir yokes to break and slowly fold the wet, dry ingredients and eggs to combine. img_1109Drop 1 Tbsp of sauce in bottom of muffins tins. Add 2 large spoonfuls of batter on top. Top with another 1 Tbsp of sauce.img_1111 Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown. Remove when slightly cool and transfer to cooling rack. May use right away or freeze for up to 6 months. Enjoy!

 

Cherry Sauce

img_0706This sauce is in no way reminiscent of the cherry flavored medicine we got as children…

What a joy to be able to visit with friends down the road and be sent home with fresh picked cherries. In an effort to not waste these beauties I decided to make batches of cherry sauce that can be used as a filling in pies, tarts or turnovers, mixed with yogurt or cottage cheese, in cheese cake, and drizzled over pancakes or ice cream. Use a cherry-pitter or simply cut out with paring knife. This is the time-consuming portion, promise its worth it!

Ingredients: (Recipe may be doubled.)

  • 2 C Bing cherries
  • 1/4 C Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Corn starch

Directions:

Pit Cherries and place in large stock pot. Heat on low and add sugar, syrup and lemon. Simmer for 10 -15 minutes until cherries are heated through. Use immersion blender to blend.

Heat on high until thickened slightly. Allow to cool and pour into jars for preserving if desired. May be stored in refrigerator for 3 weeks or freezer for 9 months without preserving. Enjoy and keep me posted on the many uses you find!

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Lemon Curd and how to use it!

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“Lemon Curd”- This does not sound appetizing, but this traditional English fruit spread makes a breakfast, dessert or snack extra special. This recipe is very simple to make, I recommend Meyer lemons, and I tearfully  used the last of our home grown lemons for this recipe. If you have excess lemons consider making a large batch and preserving. You can always double this recipe, although this is a large recipe designed to have extra for later use or gifts, so you can also cut this in half! There are many uses for this curd. Make a sheet cake, poking holes in cake while still hot and poured the lemon curd over and topped with fresh whipped cream for an Easter dessert. You can also use with pancakes, as a spread for muffins or scones, as a dip for crackers or fruit, as well as a marinade or salad dressing when mixed with basic balsamic and olive oil. Mix into yogurt or oatmeal, try my easy method to make your own yogurt.

img_0248 I loved this curd with my recipe for Brown Butter Maple Oat Muffins, place a dollop of the lemon curd on top of the batter before baking. Try it and enjoy!

Ingredients                                                                                     Yields 6-8 Cups

  • 6 lemons
  • 2 1/2 C Sugar
  • 2 Sticks of Butter
  • 8 Large Eggs
  • 1 C Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt

Directions

Zest the lemons, being careful not to get too much of the white pith, which will create a bitter taste. Mix zest and sugar in food processor until incorporated. With stand mixer cream butter and and sugar with zest. Add eggs 1 at a time and finally the lemon juice and salt. Pour the mixture into saucepan over low heat until just thickened and hot to the touch (around 8 minutes on lowest heat setting). Remove from heat and place in jars for refrigeration and preserve if desired.

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