FLAVORAh...California. My second home at this point, to me it's an absolute oasis of beauty, the "Left Coast" to some and the perfect place for a foodie like me to live. Everywhere I turn there are farmers markets and luscious stands of fresh fruits and vegetables. The seafood here is incredible and and it seems that any ingredient that I long for can be found at the corner store. Artisanal bakeries and cheese shops line every block and how can you not be enchanted by a place that allows your dog to enjoy life with you at every cafe' and espresso shop!
Del Mar is where we make our home, in a beautiful condominium that's about 700 feet from the beach surrounded by eucalyptus trees and rosemary bushes the size of rhododendrons! It's been storming here for a week now, gorgeous extraordinary rolling thunderstorms that are whipping up the waves and making the air fragrant with flowers and torn bark.
Del Mar is also the home to my favorite farmers market of all, Chino's, up in Rancho Santa Fe. One of the oldest and most revered organic markets in the United States, Chino's Farmers Market is a pleasure on any given day, but in the winter time, they have the most amazing citrus fruit that I've ever tasted. Today I'm dreaming about Meyer lemons and Chino's are among the finest that I've ever had. Small, juicy and sweet with a rind the color of sunshine,they find their way into many of my recipes including a delicious and refreshing lavender lemonade, chilled fruit soup and my favorite Buddha's Hand Martinis!
Essential Oil of lemon plays a huge role in my healthcare arsenal. Mixed with oil of Vitamin E it becomes my first "go to" formula for lymphatic cleansing and I use this remedy liberally during the times of the month when I feel a bit "cloggy" around my breasts, underarms and neck. Lemon essential oil was also a lifesaver when my son Alex was about 7. Unknown to us he had contracted "Cat Scratch Fever", a discovery made when one day I bent down to kiss him and found that the glands on his neck had blown up into the size of grapes! Terrifying to be sure and especially because the doctors could do nothing about it except for scare us with threats of surgery in the event that the glands didn't come down!
I took matters into my own hands, giving him liberal glasses of my favorite " Master Cleanser", a drink of freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed with spring water, maple syrup and a touch of cayenne pepper and dabbed the lemon essential oil onto the infected glands several times a day. Within a couple of weeks, the frightening hard glands had softened and gone back to their normal size and he was feeling great. To this day, when I feel a cold coming on I do the same thing for myself and very quickly I'm feeling quite as good as new!
Because the lemons are so beautiful right now I can't resist bringing you a couple of fun and easy recipes! The first is a chilled fruit soup that I've made today for my son. It's vegan and gluten free and requires a vitamix or a very high powered blender to work it's magic on the ingredients! Serve this soup as a first course before a savory meal or a palate cleanser in between courses!
To make this refreshing soup you will need:
1 and a half cups of brown rice
1and a half cups of vanilla rice milk
3/4 cup of agave nectar
2 heaping tablespoons of ginger marmalade
Juice of three fresh Meyer lemons
1/2 block of silken tofu
2 heaping tablespoons of coconut oil
Peel of 3 meyer lemons
1/2 cup of fresh Opal Basil
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 ounces of limoncello liqueur
Put all of these ingredients into the pitcher of the blender or Vitamix and blend for at least 4 minutes on the highest speed until silken and pourable. Adjust the sweetener level for you may want to add a bit more according to taste. Chill and then pour into individual bowls ,garnishing with fresh raspberries and a bit of tarragon!
Now.... Are you ready for martinis? If it's happy hour in your neck of the woods try this recipe for a really delicious twist on an old favorite! It's very easy to make and if you use the freshest ingredients you'll be rewarded with a wonderful cocktail that you can serve happily at your next party!
It features my favorite Hangar One "Buddha's Hand" Vodka, which I purchase in San Diego! The "Buddha's Hand'' is that incredibly beautiful lemon that looks for all the world like a strange alien flower, with a large base and fleshy fragrant fingers pointing upwards. They make beautiful centerpieces but equally delicious vodka. If you can find Hangar One Vodka's in your neck of the woods they are well worth a try. If not, go ahead and substitute any great citron vodka. It will work out just fine!
You will need for each drink:
1 jigger of Hangar One "Buddha's Hand" Vodka
1 jigger of Limoncello
juice of one half of a fresh Meyer Lemon
1 tablespoon of amber agave nectar
Fresh Tarragon for garnishing and muddling
Place the tarragon in the bottom of a shaker and press a bit with flat edge of a spoon. Add several ice cubes and the rest of the ingredients. Shake until blended and strain into your favorite cocktail glass. Garnish with strips of tarragon and fresh lemon rind and serve!
This is a drink that is absolutely made for alfresco dining.....Serve with fragrant curries, chicken satay or thai lettuce wraps outside under the setting sun!
Please be sure to visit my darling friend Roxana at her wonderful Illuminated Journal for her incredibly FRAGRANT portion of this weeks "Perfume Illuminated!"
The picture of the "Buddhas Hand" lemon is courtesy of the LA Times!
Perfume Illuminated Photo by Roxana Villa. All other photos courtesy of Beth Schreibman Gehring