I mean, I’m definitely a minimalist, and I like that we’ve taken our time filling our tiny apartment with only a handful of things we absolutely love. But sometimes I use minimalism as an excuse to never make a decision, and never spend time (or money) on making our place feel like home. I’m so glad to have found a little balance. Next up, maybe a fig tree for our little balcony, or an area rug to add a little more warmth to the living room.
Preserved lemons are a little hard to track down in the US, but they’re somewhere out there, and easy enough to make at home. If you preserve your own lemons at home, be careful how much you add to this recipe, because homemade ones tend to be saltier and more flavorful than commercial ones. I had luck finding some good ones at World Market, and I know the Spice House sells them too (if you’re in Chicago, or don’t mind ordering them online). Upscale supermarkets with decent international sections often carry them (like Whole Foods). They’re not always available in Middle Eastern markets, because they’re not a staple in every region’s cuisine—they’re most commonly used in North African cuisines.
So yeah, fig art is definitely a highlight of my birthday week. But also, this cheesecake! I developed this recipe for my family a couple months ago, and it was a hit. It’s the perfect thing for a (shall we say…) more sophisticated birthday. It’s got that classic and familiar lemon poppy flavor, but with a little twist, since the flavor comes from preserved lemons. Lemons become much more fragrant as they ferment, and their harsh citrus notes gradually mellow as their acidity and saltiness intensify. While you usually see preserved lemons in savory recipes, I love using them in sweets, because they taste simultaneously familiar and unexpected. They’re super lemony, but not in the bright and sunny way you assume of a lemony dessert.
Yesterday I turned thirty-one! It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as “thirty,” but so far, so good. For my birthday, we bought a big print of some figs for our living room wall, which makes me feel like we’re finally settling into our place. Since we moved to Hong Kong a year and a half ago, I’ve just been way too busy to spend any time thinking about decor. So our walls have been absurdly blank forever, and I have this tendency to blame it on minimalism, as if this particular look was an intentional design choice.
To make this recipe, it’s best not to go on a wild goose chase for the ingredients. Let the preserved lemons come to you. You’ll be walking through the supermarket one day, and—bam! You’ll see a big preserved lemon end-cap, and you’ll grab a jar, go home, and make this cheesecake, followed by lots of delicious tajine over the course of the next few weeks. But don’t be like me and the fig print—grab a bottle when you see them, and don’t let the year pass you by without this preserved lemon poppy seed cheesecake in your life.
Plant the seeds approximately one-half inch deep in the potting soil, moisten the soil slightly, then cover the top of the pot in which you planted it with plastic wrap to reduce evaporation so that the seed and soil will not rapidly dry out. As the soil begins to dry, add a little water, but be sure the soil does not become soggy. The pot in which you planted the seed should have drainage holes so that surplus water may drain away when you irrigate your seed and later the seedling.
For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms and the NMSU Horticulture Publications page.
Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!
Keep the pot with seeds in a warm location, such as the top of your refrigerator, until the seeds germinate. For this first period light is not necessary, but once the seedlings begin to appear, they will need light. If they are in a dark location, move them to a location which receives several hours of bright light each day. Direct sunlight is not necessary, but bright light is necessary.
How can I grow and get lemons from seeds? Cyndi Little via Internet.