I am, as you might have guessed, not much of a moderate person. What I love, I love with consuming passion, and what I hate, I loathe.
In the latter category is New Year’s Eve, concerning which I’ve made my views amply clear. And no, I haven’t changed my mind. There’s not enough sparkly alcoholic beverage in the universe to quiet my inner grinch on this or any other December 31st.
Conversely, among the objects of an affection so unrestrained that any other day of the year they’ll put me in a near-narcotic state of bliss are rosemary, and Meyer lemons. Rosemary I adore so shamelessly that I’ll fondle any rosemary shrub that crosses my path, running my fingers along the aromatic spikes to perfume my hands. When they started marketing those tree-shaped topiaries, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. If they made them big enough to use as actual Christmas trees, I would fork over however much money it would take to bring one home, and damn His Lordship’s anti-decorating bah humbuggery. As for Meyers, I still weep over the dwarf tree I had to leave behind with my father-in-law when we moved east, and my heart rejoiced at being briefly reunited with it on Christmas Day and receiving the two little fruits of this season.
Loving, as I do, not wisely but too well, I bought an unadvisable quantity of both this past weekend at one of my very favorite places on earth: the San Francisco Ferry Terminal farmer’s market. I did manage to restrict myself to two very large bunches of fresh, organic rosemary, but you do not even want to know how much I blew on exotic citrus. Let’s just say that if it were Schedule II drugs, I’d be in very big trouble with the feds.
So now I’m sitting on a stockpile of lemons and herbs and I’d better start doing something to use or preserve them before all that money and giddiness shrivel up and rot. I’ve previously paired these two mood-lifting ingredients in an improbable but delectable cookie form, but frankly, I’m cookied out at this point, and I suspect you might be too.
Inspired by another market offering I found intriguing, I’ve decided to experiment with flavored salt instead. The original product I tried was a lavender salt, and although I quite like lavender, it is nothing like my idolatry of its tiny-blue-flowered cousin. I googled a few recipes for flavored salt, just to make sure I wasn’t going to risk botulism or anything, and then forged ahead with reckless abandon. I am already enchanted with the sunny yellow and green glimmer of it in its jars. I hope that, after a bit of a courtship period, the mature salt will capture and hold fast everything I love about the resinous, powerful punch of rosemary and the otherworldly fragrance of the lemons, and will remind me of home every time I sprinkle it on salad greens or simply-prepared vegetables or oil-drenched bread.
While I was feeling industrious, I also made Meyer-scented sugar, rosemary-scented sugar, and two little jars of preserved lemons. If any or all of my other endeavors pan out, I’ll be sure to gloat report about it.
Meyer Lemon-Rosemary Salt
Makes slightly over 2 cups
2 cups kosher or coarse sea salt
6-8 large sprigs of rosemary, washed and dried
3 large Meyer lemons, preferably organic, washed and dried
Place the salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pull the leaves off the rosemary and zest the lemons, and add both to the salt. Pulse until the rosemary and zest have been minced finely but not pulverized.
Transfer to clean jars with tight-fitting lids. Give jars away if you’re of a generous spirit, or hoard like a greedy dragon if you’re not.
You could use regular lemons if you can’t find Meyers, but if you’d like to try the cheat I’ve used to try to evoke some of their magic, supplement the regular lemons with the zest of one or two mandarin oranges.