Lemonships ala Tart
You will never have a healthy relationship with another human being so long as you don’t have one with yourself. I’ve told this to countless friends, and myself, time and time again. Being in love doesn’t mean finding someone who completes you, it means finding someone who co-pilots with you. *Cue the Wash is my co-pilot cry* So many friends over my lifetime, yes mostly ladies, make this mistake. They want to find someone who makes them feel whole when they haven’t finished growing into the person they should be yet. Hell I’m guilty of it too. I mean the first relationship any of us ever has in life is going to be an example of this mistake. Not only because typically we’re stupid teenagers, but because you can’t learn about who you are until you’ve been through at least one relationship and breakup…probably two.
There is another side of this too of course that I’m not touching on. In my tarty opinion, a successful human being never stops growing or changing. This is the cause of so many long relationships that fall apart. You have to be able to grow together in the same direction and at a relatively similar pace in order to preserve a relationship. If one person grows too fast, they’ll block the sun from the other. If one person grows and other doesn’t that will cause a problem too. That’s why I like the idea of the person being a co-pilot. Oh god this is corny: you are driving a relation-ship. First you need the training to fly it and then you need to find someone who wants to head in the same direction you do. The ship houses both of you, but you have to agree on where to point it and continue to agree. Damn I’m lame. Okay let’s try another relationship analogy. A food one this time!
Buffy: I’m cookie dough….I’m not done baking yet. I’m not finished becoming whoever the hell it is I’m gonna turn out to be. I’ve been looking for someone to make me feel whole, and maybe I just need to be whole. I make it through this, and the next thing, and the next… maybe one day I turn around and realize I’m ready. I’m cookies. And then if I want someone to eat m — or, to enjoy warm delicious cookie-me, then that’s fine. That’ll be then. When I’m done.
Perhaps one of the better known quotes on Buffy relationships and while not Shakespeare, it definitely has a certain Shel Silverstenian quality to it. It’s also delicious and while I’m not knocking Joss’ writing here, not the best food analogy for relationships…because cookie dough is frakking delicious. I mean really who wants to wait for the cookies to bake? Okay I get how that could work, we’re impatient and we eat up the cookie dough before the cookies come out but we eat up the dough because it’s BETTER than the cookies. Seriously does anyone out there not prefer a giant tub of dough to the cookies? Hell it’s why we have that diabolical creation known as cookie dough ice cream. In fact hold on real quick, I’mma be right back.
*five pounds later*
Okay that’s better. Where was I? Right – food as a relationship analogy. If you don’t mind my getting all food science-y on you here, I think a better food for this line of thinking would be something in the citrus family. For the sake of my recipe I’m going to run with a lemon though an orange would probably be better since we tend not to eat lemons. Whatever just go with it.
Lemons are very tart and inedible in their young stages of growth. The aroma and flavor we love forms in oils in the skin – the attractive qualities of the surface layer. Below that is the bitter pith which thins out over ripening and is meant to protect the fruit inside.
Finally we come to the meat of the fruit. In lemons it is known for a high level of tartness that is unpleasant to eat. Did you know though that lemons are often picked far too soon? A properly ripened lemon, especially Meyer lemons like the ones I use for my tart here, are much sweeter and pleasant to the tongue if left to properly vine ripen. This is because citrus, unlike say bananas, are non-climacteric fruits. That means they don’t ripen once plucked.
Lemons don’t contain starches and so they can’t continue to break down into sugar off the vine. If you take a lemon when it’s still somewhat green or unripe, it will remain that way. It has to stay growing on that tree until the very moment it has developed fully in order to capture all the sugars it can hold. A starchy fruit will get sweet off the vine because those starches break down into sugar. That’s why green bananas are fine to sit on a counter and ripen whereas a green lemon is essentially useless.
Thus if you pick a lemon too soon, it will be tart and unpleasant. A properly ripened meyer lemon? That’s something you can actually enjoy and suck on. If you are lucky enough to have a tree on your lot, a fully ripe lemon can be delicious when thinly sliced and added to salads or fish. I especially love a sushi roll at a local joint that tops tuna with thin, sliced and ripe lemons. I’ll eat those slices with the fish—peel and all. It’s like biting into sunshine.
That’s how it should go with a relationship; you have to give yourself a chance to fully ripen. In my first relationship or two, I’m certain I wasn’t fully sweetened yet. These days? I think I know who I am, where I stand and what I need in life. I am happy on my own and that’s a big test of whether you are ready to be involved with someone else. Still if I learned anything the last month or so, it’s that even if I as a person am ready, my situation also needs to be. Right now I’m not happy where I am. I don’t feel like I have real job stability/future and while I know the path I want to be on, I still need to fully align to it. That’s going to take a lot of effort and time on my part. If I’m lucky I’ll find someone who can fly that ship with me but trying to fly it with someone who wants to dock in a different port? Well that’s going to lead to failure.
Damn it. I switched back from the lemon to the ship again. LEMONSHIP. I mean it’s lemons and the tart is round and kind of flying saucer looking so…let’s combine the analogies into a lemonship! That works…right? Whatever. This is delicious and with just the right balance of tartness and insanely delicious sweetness.
Dreamiest, Creamiest Lemon Tart
from Dorie Greenspan “Baking from my home to yours”
- 1 cup sugar
- Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 4 to 5 lemons)
- 2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons (21 tablespoons; 10 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
- 1 fully-baked 9-inch tart shell
Getting ready: Have a thermometer, preferably an instant-read, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or food processor at the ready. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.
Put the sugar and zest in a large metal bowl that can be fitted into the pan of simmering water. Off heat, work the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs followed by the lemon juice.
Fit the bowl into the pan (make certain the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and cook, stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. You want to cook the cream until it reaches 180°F. As you whisk the cream over heat—and you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling—you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as the cream is getting closer to 180°F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point—the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking and don’t stop checking the temperature. And have patience—depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes.
As soon as you reach 180°F, pull the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of a blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream rest at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140°F, about 10 minutes.
Turn the blender to high and, with the machine going, add about 5 pieces of butter at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed while you’re incorporating the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going—to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to beat the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.
Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and chill the cream for at least 4 hours or overnight. When you are ready to construct the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell.