Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Lemons and Llamas with Author Nell Castle

My guest today is Author Nell Castle. Nell brought a yummy recipe for Lemon Tarts and a challenging writing prompt that will test your animal lore. 

Be sure to visit Nell's website and get to know this author who rewrites her friend's love stories that haven't ended well, bringing them to life with a breath of new hope and possibilities. Isn't that intriguing? I love happy endings!

Lemon Lore

What fruit is as versatile as the lemon? While its tart-sweet flavor makes it perfect for drinks and desserts, the lemon has tons of household purposes. Add it to your wash to brighten your whites--or dip your toothbrush in its juice to brighten your teeth (but watch out for your enamel!). Add a tablespoon to a cup of whole milk and you’ve got instant buttermilk. Sprinkle it over your kids’ sliced apples to prevent browning. Or try my favorite cleaning cheat: slice up some lemons in a bowl of water and pop it into the microwave for a minute and a half. Wipes off easily and smells great!

Recipe: Lemon Tart
Photo Credit: Liz West


Tart shell:
1 ¼ c. + 2T. Flour
1T + 1t. Sugar
⅛ t. Salt
8 T. cold unsalted butter
1 lg. egg yolk, beaten with 1T milk
Reserve 1 egg white, lightly beaten

Filling:
4 eggs
1 ½ c. sugar
½ c. orange juice
3 T plus 1 t lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
¼ c. heavy cream

In food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse to the consistency of coarse cornmeal. Add egg yolk mixture, pulsing until the mixture starts banging around the bowl. Flatten into a disc, wrap, and chill for 1 hour.

Allow dough to warm up at room temperature for a bit, then roll out to fit into a 10 ½ inch tart pan. Trim dough and reserve. Freeze pan until firm.

Line the shell with foil and bake 20 minutes at 350. Remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and brush with the reserved egg white. Scraps can be used to patch any cracks from the baking process.

Assemble filling while the pastry bakes. Whisk ingredients together until smooth and transfer into a pourable container. On a cookie sheet, transfer pie shell to the oven. Slowly pour in filling as high as possible without overfilling.

Bake approximately 25 minutes, until filling is just barely set and still jiggly in the center. Check after 20 minutes and do not overbake.

Cool to room temperature before eating.


Llama Writing Prompt

Photo Credit: Pablo Trincado
One night in a dream, you wander through deep woods under a starless sky. Slivers of the full moon brighten the ground beneath your bare feet, leading you on a glittering path to the threshold of a tipi. Light glows through its leather walls, and smoke drifts up from an opening at the top. A long-haired shaman, his cheeks carved by age, eyes glowing like hot coals, holds back a flap and invites you inside. You take a seat on the dusty ground at the edge of the fire pit. Heat blisters your eyebrows as you stare into the blue heart of the fire. You know without being told what you’re looking for. You’ll find your spirit animal in this tent.

Gentle brown eyes blink at you from the fire, and ears twitch hesitantly from the top of its head. At first you mistake it for a deer, until its neck elongates. Its coat is thick, shaggy, soft. The llama steps around the coals and emerges from the pit, rolling its jaw slowly beneath its dark, velvety nose.

Your spirit animal is both a reflection of you and your spiritual guide. Write about the core traits of a llama as you understand them. Why might this animal choose you? What was your first reaction to seeing the llama emerge? Were you threatened? Disappointed? Pleased? What positive aspects of a llama do you see reflected in yourself? Do you share any negative qualities that might require work? What can you learn from the way the llama carries itself?

“Fun fact” about Nell: Nell will be visiting with a shaman in a sweat lodge in June and is feeling a little nervous about smoking tobacco from a peace pipe.


18 comments:

  1. Thank you for hosting me today, Lynda! You forced me to think about llamas in a way I never have before :P

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  2. Oh, Yum, on the receipt, Nell. I can't wait to try it.

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    1. All the lemon zest makes it *really* lemony, which my family loves. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. My thoughts on the Llama and me...
    I must admit my failings in the nuances of llamas as I had to do some research to better understand them and see my similarities or in my case disparities. Llamas are known for having an aristocratic manner about them and as much as I wish I could say I share this enviable attribute, sadly or often comically I am far from dignified. More often than not you may find me soothing bruises and scrapes from my rather unfortunate meetings with walls, cupboard doors and occasionally the ground. I also really do not choose to spit to indicate my mood. However, as with Llamas I am a curious person and enjoy being social enjoying the companionship of others, people that is, not Llamas. As with myself, I see a remarkable creature that makes the world a better place by its presence. Ok, are they conceited too?

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    1. That is a great response, Trish! Llama meditations: who knew they could be a mirror to your soul? Thanks for getting into the spirit of the prompt!

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  4. Oh lordy, I do love lemon tart. I made lemonade pie last week. Thank you!

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    1. If you like *tart*, this is for you! Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. Oh, boy do I love lemon tarts! Going to try that recipe this weekend Thanks!

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    1. I hope it works out for you, Tena! Thanks for reading :)

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  6. Nell, it's a pleasure to host you today and you also made me rethink what I know about Llamas. Barbara, Trish, and Vicki thank you for visiting and taking a moment to comment on Nell's super interesting Recipes and Writing Prompts post.

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    1. My pleasure! I found it very interesting to read about the Llama as a spirit animal and I might just have to make some lemon tarts now too.

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  7. Fun post and the lemon tarts sound amazing!

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    1. Fun idea for a writing prompt, thanks to Lynda. Glad you stopped by!

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  8. Yummy recipe! Good luck at the sweat lodge - I'd be nervous too!

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    1. Oddly, writing about the llama as a spirit animal has given me a bit of courage to face the lodge. Thanks for your comment!

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  9. Wow! What a unique experience you'll have visiting a sweat lodge. I always envision butterflies, birds, foxes and other familiar animals as spirit guides so the idea of a llama, an animal whose personality I don't know much about, was an interesting thought experiment. (And the lemon tarts look yummy! )

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  10. After 3 chance encounters with foxes in a 12-month span, I've always considered the fox my spirit animal. But someone's gotta love a llama, right? Thanks for your observations!

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  11. As always this was a very interesting post. I use lemons for a variety of things in my house too. They are great for cleaning the grout on t.ile floors mixed with vinegar and water and baking soda. Let it sit for 5 minutes and use a brush to scrub and then wipe clean.
    My only encounter with a Llama is at the Zoo. They were curious and at the same time cautious.

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