Among the many charms of my new workplace is the Just Food Citrus Buying Club. A couple of weeks ago I replied to an email, indicating that I was in for ten pounds of certified organic citrus from Beck Grove in Fallbrook, California. (It seems even diehard local eaters need a little dose of sunshine come mid-January.)
I left work on Friday with as many blood oranges and Meyer lemons as would fit in my purse. The rest would have to wait until a night that did not include a meeting followed by swanky cocktails and an even swankier dinner. I took great pleasure in producing fragrant reminders of warmer weather for the people who swirled through my busy weekend, but did manage to retain a little fruit for myself.
All of that socializing didn’t leave much time for sleeping. And so Monday found me sitting at my dining table desperately trying to focus on a backlog of work.
The right music was essential. It being Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I went with Forever Young, Gifted & Black: Songs of Freedom & Spirit, an excellent compilation of Nina Simone songs from the Civil Rights Era–including a devastating 13-minute version of “Why? (The King of Love is Dead)” performed just three days after King’s assassination.
While the music soothed my brain a bit, my stomach was still unsettled by my efforts to substitute coffee for sleep. Rooting through the fridge, I found my recently acquired Meyer lemons, a giant knob of ginger and some fresh turmeric left from a fall apple picking trip to Fishkill Farms. A quick Google search led me to the New York Times’s Meyer Lemon and Ginger Infusion with Turmeric and Cayenne. Color me obsessed–and productive.
I logged eleven hours at the office today. This included the first of two days of all-staff training, which was a great experience, but also exhausting–so much so that I boarded the wrong train home, overshooting my destination by 45 or so blocks. Mercifully, I had some curried pumpkin, tofu and kale left from Sunday night’s dinner. I consumed this cold and straight out of the container, standing at the kitchen counter.
While I ate, I contemplated whether I still had the energy to deliver on the sweet treat I had promised for day two of our training. There was no way I was trudging back outside. Whatever baked good I made would have to be limited by the ingredients I had on hand. As it turns out, this is not a terrible fate when you’ve got Meyer lemons and ginger in the fridge.
Meyer Lemon Gingerbread
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 12 ounces butter, softened
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1 golf ball-sized knob of ginger, peeled
- 3 Meyer lemons
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 12 (or thereabouts) baking pan with butter. Whisk flour, baking soda, spices and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Cream the remaining butter, sugar, molasses, vanilla and eggs in a large bowl. Using a fine microplane, grate three-fourths of the ginger and the zest of two lemons into the bowl and stir to combine. Slowly work in the flour mixture.
- Juice the two zested lemons and add enough water to make a cup of liquid. Heat this until just before boiling and then add it to your batter, stirring to combine. Pour this into the pan and pop in the oven for 30 minutes or so. (This is a fine time for a yoga/State of the Union interlude.)
- When the bread has pulled away from the edges of your pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes while you make the glaze.
- Zest and juice your last lemon into a small ramekin. Grate the remaining ginger and add that along with the confectioners sugar. Stir briskly with a fork, adding water if needed until you get a syrupy consistency. Drizzle this over your gingerbread and spread evenly with a spatula before allowing to harden.
This recipe yields enough gingerbread to feed a dozen bleary-eyed staff members and still leave a little treat for the neighbors to discover in the morning.
(Alternately, you could polish it off yourself.)