Philosophy Gone Sour

IMG_2159At our house, I’m responsible for making xmas morning happen for our children.  The gearhead’s steadfast determinism to opt out of inflated consumerism [wife edits: except if car related] foists responsibility toward me.  He blows it into the air like a feather and it lands on my shoulders like a stone.   I’m determined our children won’t suffer his idealism.  Secretly, I admire his stance; but not enough to follow him into the light.

This year though, working full time hours, I just can’t seem to get it together.  This is partly because there doesn’t seem to be enough time in any day to buy gifts, but mostly because, increasingly, I agree with his philosophy.  And then I picture the girls’ sad faces and crocodile tears on xmas morning, with no gifts to open save my arms offering a conciliatory warm hug.  Queue the record needle scratch here to rid us of this sad scenario where hugs just aren’t enough.  Sorry folks, a rather dark post this week.  Blame it on the dark November (and now December) skies.  Evidently I need more xmas cheer [gearhead edits: I cherish xmas but not for these reasons…I enjoy watching the kids be happy and the holiday but we all have too much shit anyway, we don’t NEED anything.  Besides, I fix everything around here, and build a lot of it using recycled materials.  You’re being a harsh critic] [wife edits: okay, agree.  You’re an easy scapegoat].

IMG_2198I have always made gifts to give to people.   It’s genuinely rewarding to provide somebody with something handmade instead of purchased. In a way, you’re stepping out of the capitalist trap and giving somebody a gift that wraps up your time and love into a jar of deliciousness; a subtle value transfer that “bought” just doesn’t measure up to.  In the past I also sewed small toys for the girls, little gems that they cherished to raggedy bits.  I would do well to remember these options.  Also, I’ll strive to remember that the whole thing isn’t a farce…but a celebration of life and family and togetherness.  In that spirit, the next few posts will feature food gifts.

To begin, I offer these sun-yellow lemons, mellowed through salting.  The following is a mish mash recipe taken from a few different sources and so I won’t reference them here and send you on a wild goose chase.  The recipe is forgiving and would be just as good with simply salt and lemons, but I like the jars to glow with some textural contrasts.

Incidentally, I should mention that the gearhead’s big yellow city bus has moved on to greener pastures.  Thank you gearhead for making the bus disappear – that really is a true gift.  I’ll try and link that documentation here when I extricate it from his phone….

Preserved Lemons

6 organic lemons (smaller lemons are better), plus another 3-4 lemons for juicing (maybe more)

6 tablespoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

3 bay leaves

1 stick cinnamon

3-4 whole dried chilies

olive oil, to seal

Wash the lemons really well.  Carefully cut each lemon lengthwise into six IMG_2171sections to within a half centimeter (1/4 inch) of the stem so the lemon holds together still. The lemon should open slightly like a flower.  Holding each lemon open like this, above a plate to catch the excess, sprinkle about a tablespoon of salt inside the lemon to cover the insides.  Gently squeeze the lemon closed and place it into a sterilized jar. Do this with all the lemons.  Divide the rest of the ingredients in half and add to each jar, along with the lemons.  Squeeze enough fresh lemon juice to completely cover the lemons in the jars, then pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top to act as a seal.  The fruit must be completely covered.  Cover the jars with their lids and refrigerate.  The lemons will be ready to use in a month and will keep, in the fridge, for up to 6 months.

These are an essential ingredient for Moroccan tagines, but equally good with simple roast chicken and fish. Also good to spike a winter salad with briny black olives.


This entry was published on December 13, 2013 at 6:20 am. It’s filed under Preserves, Winter and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

5 thoughts on “Philosophy Gone Sour

  1. Peta Shelton on said:

    Hey Suzanne,

    Do you know about the new food channel, Gusto! ? My daughter in law is their Marketing and Digital Content person and I forwarded your blog to her and you may see it appearing in Natalie`s Friday blog about homemade food gifts. Be sure to follow Gusto on FB to see how this develops.

    And they will be putting out a casting call for folks to pitch show ideas. How about it?



  2. I love your honesty Suzanne and yes we are all too busy. I also love your descriptions of him blowing a feather that lands like a stone – beautiful. My mom did the same thing growing up for us – she did it allll while working full-time. My father is similar to Gear-head but mostly my dad found x-mas depressing. She survived and we never really cared that dad sat on the sidelines. Ho, ho fucking ho ;))) It did take its toll on her though but we never noticed. On Dec 13, 2013 6:20 AM, “Food by the Gearhead’s Wife” wrote:

    > Food by the Gearhead’s Wife posted: “At our house, Im responsible for > making xmas morning happen for our children. The gearheads steadfast > determinism to opt out of inflated consumerism [wife edits: except if car > related] foists responsibility toward me. He blows it into the air like a > f”


    • Thanks Julie ….I’m thinking the maternal side more often upholds these holidays….I also understand the depressing part. But food seems to transcend all of this, especially when shared with joy with family and friends. I have to say that’s my favourite part, and really, probably the kids’ too…especially food memories as they grow older. Cheers!


  3. nyree biro on said:

    I agree it is true, we all know we dont need anything, yet it has become almost impossible to digress from the norm,,,,especially with kids around. Gratitude and generousity are the point, but no one seems to want that…i noticed during the Secret Santa this year in my grade five class….some didnt get anything, and they were the ones who were grateful to get a little note of appology after getting nothing for five days!


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