Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spring Where For Art Thou?

When the magnolia blooms by her front porch Karen know Spring is near.

Early blooming azaleas show their pretty pink faces in April and May


To say the weather has been a bit crazy lately is beyond an understatement. Here in not so sunny Southern California, one week it’s 80 and spring has vanished and Summer has settled in. Next week we have rain and the daytime temperature is 54. Hello winter. Yikes I need my wool coat! I no longer have faith the normal changing of the seasons will happen. So for now my winter clothes are still the main focus of my closet. I have a drawer full of short sleeve tops that sit at the ready in case another surprise couple of 80 degree days decide to keep me on my toes. Funny, the fruit trees are the only things that seem to know that spring is on the way. When I walk the Rose Bowl the plum and cherry trees are in full bloom and look so lovely. But instead of wearing short sleeves and temperatures in the 70’s, I’m wearing my winter workout sweats and my face feels like I’ve put on an ice mask. Spring….where oh wherefore art though?


One thing you can count on in this world is that spring will come. Spring arrives every year about half way through the 21st of March. Wouldn’t we all be delighted out of our minds if on that day the pear trees burst into bloom, the robins laid all those pretty blue eggs, we plop those tank tops into the drawer and kiss winter good bye? But Madam Spring doesn’t work that way. She’s a fickle wench, maybe the most capricious of all her fellow seasons. Oh Old Man Winter might make an appearance when he should be sleeping. We know he’ll be brief and his signature snow very sloppy. Miss Spring on the other hand hangs on with her whims. Ten days of 80+ weather, followed by days with brisk winds from the southwest shifting to the northeast dropping temps twenty degrees. Where are those sweaters? Enough of this weather report. Tell me what exactly do you like about Spring?


Well, I like it when Spring shows up! : ) I think my favorite thing is the flowering trees. Such a dramatic change from bare branches to color everywhere. My next favorite thing about Spring is the air actually smells different: fresh, clean and crisp. Of course it also can bring on an allergy attack but totally worth the price. My closet gets to turn from black and grey, to black, white and navy. Okay, I admit I’m not a big color person. : ) I also have a bit more bounce in my step on a beautiful Spring day. Of course that could be because I always bake up a storm as soon as the weather gets better. So all the extra sugar coursing through my veins could be the reason. : )


Ha! And I’m thinking of putting away all that black and getting out the pinks. To match my flowers. Last fall I planted shocking pink tulips along with more daffodils, hardy little suckers; don’t mind sticking their heads through the snow. Actually the first flowers up, right after the crocus, are pink hyacinths, old and feeble but still notably colorful. Any way I do have at least half dozen pink tee shirts to go along with my gardening blue jeans. I own and wear, though it’s falling apart, a pink hoodie, pink sneakers, and pink gardening gloves. Looks like some of my pink snap dragons wintered over and wow…you should see my rhododendron putting out buds all winter. Take my word for many pink petals on perennials, flowering shrubs and trees! Oh I just know you’re going to make a crack about old ladies and their pinks. I even have pink knives and forks. Would love to be poking them into some of your spring baking delights.


Pet and pink where made for each other. : ) Personally pink and I don’t get along. Instead of making me look cheery and fun it clashes with my skin tone and I look like I’m having a jaundice attack. My problem with bright colors is I like to blend in. I love to observe the people around me without being noticed so wearing a bright orange T-shirt is out of the question. Black is my undercover color of choice. When it comes to my garden I like to keep it subtle too. My flowers are all shades of purple and white. I do have an occasional volunteer turn up in shocking red. But I let it be. I figure if it went to all the trouble of finding my garden to grow in, I should welcome the occasion break from my calm color scheme. I like the occasional rebel. : )


Scenery around here improves every day. The yellow brown is greening up. Blue jays and blue birds colorfully flit by and the robins and cardinals seem redder than ever. The tree toads are finally speaking up and while the little darlings are never seen they herald what’s happening outside of their trees. Color, color, color, Karen Anne. Boo on black and gray. White in winter makes kind of a pretty background but now even that’s gone in most places and underneath the white stuff lays the dreary dregs of last summer. That’s why the new grass popping up along with early spring bulbs cheer the soul. And you’re cheering non color? How about your delicious home baked goodies. Do you keep the pinks and yellows away or are you getting ready for Easter with yummy toppings alight with spring shades?


Okay, you twisted my arm. : ) One of my favorite things to bake to get me in a Spring mood is lemon meringue pie. Nothing celebrates the warming temperatures and sunny skies better! It’s always a bit of a challenge to get the meringue browned perfectly but there is nothing more like eating sun shine then a piece of lemon pie! Here’s my big tip. Be sure to use Myer lemons. They have a nice sweet taste and a beautiful color!


1 cup white sugar 2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons unbleached flour 4 egg yokes, beaten

3 tablespoons cornstarch 1 9” pie crust baked

1 ½ cups water 4 egg whites

2 Myer lemons, juiced & zested 6 tablespoons white sugar

(for the meringue)


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. For the filing: In medium saucepan, whisk together 1 cup sugar, flour, and cornstarch. Cook over medium heat stirring until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in butter. Place egg yolks in a small bowl and gradually whisk in ½ cup of hot mixture. Whisk egg mixture back into sugar mixture and bring to a boil. Continue to cook until thick. Remove from heat and pour into baked pie shell.
  3. To make meringue: In a large chilled glass bowl, whip egg whites until foamy. Add sugar gradually, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Spread over pie, sealing all edges.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until meringue is golden brown. Be sure to watch the pie like a hawk!


Lemon meringue pie. The first thing I ever cooked. My dad didn’t like the crust on my Aunt’s pies; my mom didn’t bake, so he asked me, an adventurous ten-year-old, to make him one. Long time ago but I distinctly remember using a Jell-O mix. He approved of my crust anyway and this led to a long career of chocolate cookies and the best brownies ever. Nothing beats that yellow and white pie around Easter time. Guess I’m getting ahead of myself since we still have to get through March. True to its rep, March arrived here in Eastern Tennessee with vicious winds. Got to keep thinking they’ll bring the April showers soon to give way to May flowers. So we say goodbye like we said hello, with a weather report. Happy springtime everyone.

1 comment:

Fran said...

Really anxious for spring here in Baltimore....its been a long, long winter. Pink is a fantastic need to worry about wearing it too much and Karen Ann, I had to think its a good thing you don't live in Baltimore, because we all wear orange in the spring to support our Oriole's baseball team. Happy baking!