The Lemon Curd Club

blossom in my lemon tree

It was my dearest friend Maloah who introduced me to lemon curd, which was apparently a tradition in her family–she used to make it with her mother. And so she continues to spread the joy, gifting bottles on special occasions. In my case, it was a birthday. She had put the curd in a glass bottle, and covered it with a lid, over which she put a small circle of colorful cloth, secured with a ribbon. “That cloth is from Maui!” she beamed. She loves Maui.

While I was grateful for the lemon curd, I honestly didn’t really know what to do with it. It felt like something I ought to know, but lemon curd was not a part of my upbringing, nor were hippies making it when I was exploring healthy foods in San Francisco, and later Amsterdam. Macrobiotic folks would not have approved. Pretty sure.

But those days are over. And lemon curd is a lovely new adventure. So I asked. “Put them on scones!” everyone said on Facebook, knowing I make scones every week or so. I’m not inclined to put anything on a scone, so I continued to explore my lemon curd preferences. What I did discover, that delighted me no end, was that my dear friend Liz in the UK makes lemon curd with some regularity for her family (and they do put it on scones, I think) and they call it lemon cheese. Well, I adore it when I discover that someone I know through social media has something in common in the kitchen–or the garden. You look for connection where you find it. So that was acknowledged. Liz and I and Maloah all make lemon curd (or cheese, depending on your regional preferences). Then Liz posted her recipe for someone, and somewhere about that time the idea for The Lemon Curd Club was born.

What is The Lemon Curd Club? I’m still not entirely sure where it will go. But initially, I’ve been thinking, you simply follow the recipe that I’m about to post below, and send a pic to prove you did it (ha). And you are in. You will officially be part of The Lemon Curd Club. Voila and congratulations! So my early thoughts about this are that it might be refreshing to be able to join a club that does nothing beyond simply being a group of women and men who have made lemon curd. And no, it doesn’t count if you have once upon a time made lemon curd. You needn’t follow this particular recipe–though I encourage you to as it is simply delicious! But to belong to The Lemon Curd Club you have to make a batch starting now, and send us a pic in the comments section. Take your time. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And I have this notion that it might be just fun to belong simply because of that. And maybe we never do another thing together again. Or maybe we do. But this is the start. It makes me happy. It rings with joy. If you are resonating with something so silly and simple and delicious (and who knows how it might change your life?), join us. Oh, yes, and Maloah and Liz are Official Honorary Members, since they basically spurred this on, though they knew not. That’s fine.

So here is this exquisite recipe which I found and then tweaked a bit. And it is heavenly, dear friends. I promise.

Lemon Curd Recipe from the Lemon Curd Club

3-4 lemons
1 1/2 C. sugar
1/4 lb. sweet butter
1/2 C. freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch of salt


Noteworthy: While you may begin with whatever grater you have on hand, if you want an excellent result, please do invest in a fine grade microplane zester. You will be so glad you did. It’s a breeze to use and there’s no comparison in quality. Also, you don’t really want to include the white fibre underneath the skin, so this is a sure and easy way to make sure you only skim the outside of the lemon.


OK, so shave off the zest of 3-4 lemons. Then place the zest in your Cuisinart or food processor with the sugar.


Then pulse a few times until it looks like this.


Easy, right?

Now in a large bowl, cream the sweet butter. [Folks in the UK or EU: in America we actually most commonly sell salted butter. I always use sweet (unsalted) butter, unless I’m making garlic bread…] Add the sugar/lemon zest mix. Then add four eggs, one at a time. Please use large organic eggs. The better the ingredients, the better the result. Always. Then add the 1/2 C. lemon juice, making sure no seed bits made their way into the juice. And the pinch of salt. Mix it up. You should now have this:


Now. Warning. This is the single thing that could go horribly wrong and I don’t want you to learn this the hard way, like I did. Sort of. (I salvaged it, but it was a disappointment.) For what you now do is to transfer the above mixture into a thick 2-quart pan and you put the heat on low, and you stir and stir and stir and stir until it thickens. If you think you can do the washing up or let the cat out or whatever, rather than to keep stirring, you are flirting with disaster and you will be sooo annoyed with yourself. (And I promise not to say I told you so.) But really, this is where a bit of patience is required. Probably about 10 minutes worth. And the results are just scrumptious (or scrummy as they say in the UK!).

And then what I do is to put the lemon curd is several small bottles, as I always end up giving some away and it’s such a lovely gift for a neighbor, or a friend who stops by. So here is my batch from today, cooling in jars.


When they are cool, place a thin layer of plastic wrap over the jar, and place in frig. Or you can add a traditional canning lid.

Let us know when you’ve made a batch of lemon curd and join The Lemon Curd Club! And please let us know how you use it! I’m envisioning friends from near and far! All joined together by a yummy recipe! Who knows where this will lead??

Love and kitchen blessings,
Kathryn xoxox

PS: You can always eat it directly out of the jar…And I bet you do!! Haha! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Book News: Many thanks to those who came to my book event at Copperfield’s Books in Healdsburg last weekend! It truly was fun! Also, just learned that GreenPrints magazine–highly recommended–will be publishing another excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy in the fall. Wonderful! Thanks also to those who have recently subscribed to this blog–and to those who have taken time to write reviews of my book on Amazon. Each one is a treasure beyond measure. THANK YOU!!

Leaving My Critic at the Garden Gate

Recently I’ve had an epiphany, and it’s about me and how I have felt about presenting my garden to the world. I know my critic has been voicing her little nags about this for a long time, and I’d like to say I largely ignored her, but that would not be true. The job of the critic is to protect us from being hurt, based on our notes taken as a little child, all learned from Mommy and Daddy as they laid down The Rules. The ones we were to obey if we wanted to be loved and accepted. It’s a big shift to become the adult in the room and to be able to thank the critic voice for her input (it’s her Job, afterall), but you are the conscious adult and you are in charge now, and able to reassess whether her notes are still pertinent, or were ever even true. So there was that. And I suppose I’d been thinking that as “a gardening blogger” my garden was “supposed to look a certain way.” Not Better Homes and Gardens, but, you know. Nice. So I would carefully select how I presented my garden in pictures, trying to avoid certain corners. Or, the whole big picture, if I’m being really honest, and that’s what this post is about.

I’d already begun to think about this, catalyzed by noticing I was surprised when an elderly neighbor came to visit my back garden, and given that she’s a kind of random gardener herself, I showed her every corner, thinking she would appreciate it. She did. After I walked her around she said, “I feel like I’ve been on a gardening tour.” Really? And then I was left wondering why I would be so surprised. What’s that about?


But the real ah-ha moment occurred when a gardener I know was lamenting that at end of winter her garden didn’t really show well, and for some reason, that one clicked. Because what I recognized was that the voice of the critic was lying await under what she was saying. This led me to some serious and honest thinking, which led me to this conversation with my daughter this morning.

“I’m going to write about leaving one’s critic at the garden gate, my own included. And I’m going to stop thinking my garden has to be showcased as anything other than it really is. And what it really is, Antonia, is a very big DOG RUN with a LOT of things growing on each side, mostly roses.”

And we both cracked up laughing.

Because it’s basically true. I took one look at that near block-long yard ten and a half years ago, and I saw a place my overly energetic Border Collie, Conner, could happily be exercised and safely kept behind tall garden walls. I also saw a random garden created by various renters that allowed me to know I could pretty much do whatever I wanted, and that appealed to me very much. I could experiment, and pretty much anything I did create would have been an improvement. And it has been. Let me take you beyond the garden gate and give you a really good look at what lies behind it!

First, the primary motivators, playing ball. (They are the main attraction!)

Conner and Ruby

And here’s where they get to play every day.




That’s basically the dog run part. But there’s also a bit of patio, where we sometimes play, and this is a peek at some of that.


It’s a big back yard, and it has secret places. I somehow managed to arrange it as if it were divided into vignettes. Here’s the hammock.


And my most recent foray is something I’ve long thought about, as the true myrtle (one of my favorite areas) grows in rather a circle, so I’ve always imagined that I could put something inside that circle and create something special. And that one I’ve just begun, so stay tuned. I’m seeing videotaping little chats from an early morning garden, with tablecloths and vases of flowers and hanging lovely things in the trees. Can you see it?

The Myrtle Circle

Then there was the haphazard developing of the Rose Garden, which evolved out of taking out an enormous plum tree that did no one any good, ever, not even the birds, and a teen age neighbor boy who actually told me, “I’m the brawn, not the brain” plopped in a circle of roses I’d salvaged from some elderly folks on the block who had intended to trash these amazing heirloom roses! So that happened. And was I inclined to take out the volunteer borage? No. Not at all. I’m not that kind of girl. So I enjoy the contrasting blues and reds and pinks and yellows and the abundance of honeybees and bumbles that frequent my garden from early morning ’till dusk and beyond.


Also, compliments of same brawny teenager, the lemon tree got dragged into the center of the “dog run”, in the sun, and adjacent to a grape vine I put into a large pot who is getting bigger every year. Oh, dear. And I spend a fair amount of time making sure it doesn’t wind itself into the lemon tree or get in the way of focused doggies, which does happen on occasion. Poor grapes.


There’s a large picnic table on this end of the garden, well used.


And a honeysuckle screen looking out into that area.


And, of course, the Dr. Hueys.


Among the other blessings on this property are a fig tree, an organic apple tree, a plum tree (which had been hiding behind the one pulled up!), and the English walnut.


And what I’ve added includes three butterfly bushes, insuring tons of butterflies and pollinators, lots of herbs, raspberries, blackberries, roses and more roses, irises, lilies, campanula, and all manner of flowers. I am especially grateful for the perennials.

But what this garden most offers is a habitat for birds and critters. A safe one, free of pesticides, one where nests might be built. It offers respite from my work life. Fresh air. Quiet. Safety. No deer. No snakes. (Only black widows, which I watch carefully for.) All gifts for which I am incredibly grateful. And is it “perfect”? No. It is garden tour worthy? Probably not. Do I care? No. So I hope this sharing encourages you to have the garden that suits you. Please, please, leave your critic at the garden gate. Let things go a bit, and learn about the plants you are growing. How else would I know oregano can take over a veggie garden, had I not let it happen? Or that mullein is a magical plant if I’d ripped it up before it became a stalwart force in my garden? Where would I play with hummingbirds in the early morning, showering them with a spray from my hose? Learn about scrub jay fledglings? Let your garden be. Shape it as you will. But make it a place of joy and wonder and learning. Because that’s what it is.

Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book News: Guess what? May 21st I’m coming down to Healdsburg for an Author Meet and Greet. Can you come?? I’d love to see you! Also–if you have read my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy, would you consider putting a review on my Amazon page? It all helps and is deeply appreciated. Ten thousand kisses if you do!


All About Lady Banks Roses

Honestly, I’d walked by this little bank of roses at the end of a neighbor’s fence for years and never thought much about it. Sweet, but nothing to write home about, right?


But then an elderly woman down the street, whose gardening knowledge I’ve come to respect and rely upon, motioned casually to a large spread of small yellow roses that apparently was in the process of taking over a small tree in the back of her garden, spilling over a fence and into an adjacent garden. Given that I live with a trumpet vine that long ago took over a pittosporum tree in the back yard, I still was not duly impressed.

Until I visited a nursery at the far end of town and this caught my eye.


And this!


“What’s underneath?” I asked Christine, the woman who owns the nursery.

She laughs. “See that metal frame just next to it? One of those large poles is underneath that mound of roses. It took it down!”

Wow. Truly a plant to be reckoned with! Now it has my attention.

Christine recommended that I go north down a street not far from where I live to see the awesome possibilities of a Lady Banks Rose. Next to a meandering creek, full of flowing water from the recent rains, I found this towering testimony to what a determined Lady Banks Rose can do! (Would love to know more about the woman after whom it’s named. I hope she was a dynamite lady! And I hope she traveled a lot!)


I am now fully engaged, and I’m itching to put one in the ground and bear witness to it as it does its marvelous thing. This will require some serious responsible planning, as clearly it could not care less what it eats in its path in its endeavor to be itself. As one who has written extensively about the metaphorical value of the lessons learned in the garden, Lady Banks Roses would have required an entire chapter devoted to it. As close as I came in Plant Whatever Brings You Joy is “Allow ample space for the breadth of your vision”, but also, succinctly, “Never underestimate the power of one tiny seed!”

I have a fence in mind that could use some beautifying, and I think there are no trees within its reach. OK, I just looked. Maybe a privet might get courted, but I don’t see that as necessarily a bad thing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Researching what I need to know about Lady Banks Roses to successfully grow one is heartening. I have learned they have been regarded as quite trouble free for generations. Good. And Christine has already assured me I need not bother, really, with pruning. (How would one do that on a thirty foot tree anyway?) It is found in yellow or white, though I believe yellow is more common. And it is found in both a single and double blossom.

Here’s what you can anticipate up close:



Lady Banks Roses come originally from China. They are named after the wife of the man who brought them to our sphere. Their proper name is Rosa banksiae. They bloom once a year.

Poking around on the Internets, I found this lovely tribute from a woman’s garden long ago. So charming…


Meanwhile, back to Christine’s nursery, Whispering Winds Nursery, I inquired if I might come sometime and do a small book event and she was, happily, delighted! So please take note if you are in Marin, Sonoma or Mendocino Counties (all of which I call Home) please consider coming up or over Friday, April 15th. From 1:00-4:00PM I will be sitting under a tree greeting folks, signing and selling copies of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy! And guess what? Christine and Jim have kindly offered to extend a 10% discount on any plants purchased with a purchase of my book! I found this enormously kind and generous. And be advised they have an excellent abundant choice of flowers and plants you will not be likely to find elsewhere. It’s a lovely setting. I would love to see you! And maybe afterward we could find a small cafe and sit and chat!

Warm garden love and blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

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