Belly Up to the Bar Boys (and Girls)!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Some people might mistake this as a citrus patch. Don't be silly. If you've spent the same amount of time in Sacramento area dive bars as I have -- then you know what this is!

It's the Bird Supply of Margarita Mixers :)

Next stop: Margaritaville. The Improved Meyer Lemon pictured to your right is now in its second year and producing. Not a lot -- not yet. But this is just the start. Check back in about seven to ten years.

The point here is -- wifey and I LOOOOOVE fresh citrus. We can't get enough of it. There was a time and place years ago -- when a former roommate delivered freshly harvested lemons from a fifty plus year old lemon tree from her southeast Fresno backyard.

Best lemons on the planet bar none. No delivery was too large. She couldn't bring enough. Venus and I would set up the electric juicer (the best invention known to all mankind) and juice to our heart's content.

That juicing session would normally result in three or four gallons of freshly squeezed lemon juice. No matter. We would freeze a lot of it. The rest went into batches of LIP SMACKING LEMONADE -- and yes -- I must admit -- we did make our fair share of Margaritas.

As we sat together in that Citrus Heights duplex sipping Manna from Heaven -- the woman that I loved and I both vowed that someday we would have our own little slice of heaven.

Fast foward to North Natomas 2009 -- and Heaven is slowly on its way.

Of course -- we did plant some citrus at our first Natomas home. But you can't really plant much in a backyard that isn't much bigger than a shoe closet. Still -- if you visit that first backyard today -- you will find a Dwarf Meyer Lemon and a Dwarf Mexican (Key) Lime.

Wonderful trees -- no doubt. But they weren't going to satisfy our citrus desires. Not by a longshot. This is the sad truth about dwarf anything: sure -- it fits in a small spot. But the harvest is rather disappointing. Small trees result in small harvests and that's the sad truth.

That's why my wonderful wife and I needed the large yard. We didn't want dwarf trees. We wanted BIG MONSTERS that produce a boatload of citrus year in and year out without fail. We want the lemon and lime trees that will keep us pickled in margaritas year-round. We want a never-ending supply of fresh-squeezed orange juice. We want a tasty supply of tangerines and satsumas that never end. And we want it all right outside our back door.

Pie in the Sky thinking? Mebbe. But, we're getting there.

We've chose to populate one of the side yards as our own, personal, Margarita "patch." This little corner of heaven currently contains an Improved Meyer Lemon, Bearss Lime, Washington Navel Orange and the tree pictured to your right: The Dancy Tangerine.

Soon to come? An Owari Satsuma and another lemon. It might be another Improved Meyer -- or EUREKA! It just might be a Eureka. Sorry. Lame attempt at a joke there.

It is the Dancy that has done best so far -- although the Meyer Lemon isn't far behind. I found the Dancy Tangerine at Home Depot a year ago last December. It had just come off the delivery truck. It was LOADED with bright orange tangerines -- about 20 of them. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

Other people nearby spotted it too when it came off that delivery truck. We all made a mad dash for it. It's probably the only race I have ever won in my lifetime. I grabbed it first -- brought it home -- enjoyed that first harvest with Venus and then gave our tangerine tree a prime spot in the side yard.

I was a little disappointed when it failed to produce anything last year -- but this year? Different story completely. I was a little concerned at first when these strange green sticks -- devoid of any leaf cover -- emerged from the top of the tree and started growing at an exponential rate. But -- as it turned out -- there was no reason to be concerned. Those were new branches emerging and they soon leafed out.

The Meyer Lemon is current starting to exhibit the same growth spurt. I know in time that the size of these trees will double -- triple -- quadruple. I don't want small trees. I want monsters. Monster trees deliver a monster harvest. Our goal? Keep the neighborhood pickled in margaritas.

There's no question in my mind that the denizens of the Hello Kitty Beehive aided in this year's citrus production. We went from zero production last year to outstanding production in the space of one year. And -- as each citrus tree flowered -- the bees attacked each blossom.

We've been harvesting limes for the past week or two -- which go wonderful in a bottle of Pacifico or beef stir fry creation that we grabbed off the internets recently. I've put the recipe below -- and I wish you the best of luck -- but I can pretty much assure that you won't be able to duplicate this incredible taste.

Unless you too have a lime tree in your backyard. Because there's nothing quite like a tree-ripened, freshly harvested, Bearss Lime.

Stir Fry Lime Beef Bomb (I made that up)

Note: We usually double this recipe

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about two limes)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Sesame Seed Oil (note: you can use any oil -- but Sesame Seed Oil adds to the taste)
1/2 lb. steak (tri-tip works best)
Salt and ground pepper

Directions: Cut beef into long, thin strips and layer into a wide, raised bowl. Once the first layer is complete -- sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Add a second layer of beef and again sprinkle with salt and pepper. Keep repeating this process depending on how much of this you make.

Mix lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, red pepper flaks and oil together. Mix well. Pour half to three quarters of this mixture over beef. Let soak at least 30 minutes before stir frying or just frying in a regular frying pan.

Cook through until most of the lime mixture has evaporated. Or -- if you enjoy a raw beef -- reduce cooking time.

The absolute KEY to this meal is the BEEF and the SOAK process. You can add the cooked beef to an already prepared salad -- or you can steam some vegetables and rice and enjoy it another way.

Whatever option you choose -- use the lime-soy-sugar-oil mixture you held in reserve to sprinkle over your salad or vegetables before consuming.

Good stuff Maynard. Two thumbs up.


Brown Thumb Mama said...

Mmmm, my mouth is watering already. Wish my lemon and lime trees were producing!

What juicer do you have? My mother-in-law asked for an electric juicer for Christmas.

Thanks for the recipe!

The Vintage Vignette said...

I agree that the Meyer lemon is the absolute best lemon on the planet! My mother in law has a huge tree in her backyard that produces almost year round. My husband brings me bags full and I slice em up and sprinkle just a bit of salt and eat them like fruit. A while back I wondered how I could eat them this way since they tasted more like a fruit then a sour lemon. With a little research I found out that they are a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange thus lending them the awesome sweet flavor. Here's hoping your tree produces monster crops in the near future. :)

Bill Bird said...

WHY!!! -- Thank you very much for the compliments!

To the Brown Thumb in the family -- it's a simple Cuisinart juicer. It's not one of them fancy machines where you toss in fruit, close the top, press a button and juice comes out of the bottom. Nope -- it's an old school juicer -- with the modern exception that it's electric. You're still required to cut that citrus in half and press down. From that part on -- the electric juicer takes over. The juicer is eons old -- it's juiced thousands of lemons, limes, tangerines and oranges. It's like that Energizer Bunny! Takes a licking and keeps on ticking!!!

VV -- you're right about the cross. I read somewhere that happened in China -- but maybe I dreamed it up too. Venus and I have some friends who live in a Craftman Home near Oak Park -- and the star of the backyard is this MASSIVE Meyer Lemon tree. Keeps the neighborhood in margaritas all year long.

Greg Damitz said...

I've got a 50 year old lemon tree. Not sure of the variety but everyone who tries them loves them. I need to get my shade trees trimmed severely( they haven't been in 30 years) then I'm going to plant a Satsuma and a Blood orange. Your trees should really be ging in 5 or so years.

Garden tips said...

Great blog. look forward to reading more.

Julie said...

Just came upon your blog looking at your plants and found out you're a beekeeper! Haven't got the time right now to read all of your posts but I signed on as a follower so I can trek back here again real soon! Very upbeat blog and I enjoyed what I got a chance to read, thanks for sharing!