As many of you know, I am originally from Florida. Lived there 24 years in fact. Twenty-four largely sun-soaked, carefree years. But now I call Edinburgh, the beautiful capital of Scotland, home. Although I miss my family and friends, the year-round, bathwater-temperature climate, and the cheap and abundant seafood, I truly love my adopted city. I love the warm, but appropriately cautious people (you would be as cautious if your ancestors endured a similar border-raiding history); the vibrant cultural scene; the handsome nuanced buildings, often in gardens I used to think only existed in movies; and the wealth of nutritious and delicious produce – from brambles to venison. I have even grown to, if not love, at least appreciate the certifiably crazy weather. Florida merely has a climate, punctuated by thunderstorms and the occasional hurricane, but no real weather to speak of – or seasons.
Perhaps, not surprisingly, whenever I meet someone new – a British person – the conversation often goes something like this: “You’re not from around here. Where are you from?” Me: “Florida, but I’ve lived here over 20 years.” Them: “Good God!…Why?” Then I get an opportunity to let said person see this beautiful, green and pleasant land through my eyes. Admittedly it’s rainy, blowy and a bit parky (cold), but if we had great weather everyone would want to live here. I’m sure there would have to be some kind of quota system to visit our tiny loch and mountain-dotted country. I don’t do Florida down, but I like to remind folk of how much we have here. They probably still think I am a bit bonkers though.
But one thing we don’t have here, and that I miss very much, is citrus. Good old Florida citrus: tangelos, grapefruits, minneolas, limes, lemons, pomelos, uglis, tangerines, mandarins, satsumas and even the little, fairly useless kumquat.
When I was younger I didn’t appreciate the mood-boosting sunset hues of the red grapefruit, nor the usefulness of mouth-puckering rough lemons and key limes. I took for granted that I could just pluck the low-hanging fruits from a tree, for free. Now, lemons and limes are a hugely appreciated staple in my kitchen. I use one or the other every single day, sometimes several times a day: fresh squeezed lime in my cold green tea (usually three glasses), fresh lemon juice in a daily salad or two, in marinades, dressings and ceviches, as the acidic perk in creamy sauces or to cut through the healthy oiliness of salmon. I often just squeeze it onto a random meal instead of (or as well as, if I am honest) salt. And of course, in cakes: lemons, limes and oranges, and their zingy zest.
I have previously confessed to not having a tremendous sweet-tooth. If given a choice I would opt for savoury over sweet, mostly. But show me a slice of homemade lemon drizzle cake, extra heavy on the lemon, and I will all but bite your hand off.
Today’s cake is not quite that zingy but nearly so. It is rich with deep-amber marmalade and studded with raisins and seeds, and has minimal oil and sugar to keep it on the right side of healthy. I have waxed lyrical about citrus in last year’s seville marmalade post so will leave it to you to click through to it if you fancy some additional nutrition information. We all know it is filled to bursting with essential Vitamin C, but it also has fairly useful amounts of folate, potassium and good amounts of cholesterol-binding fibre. Of interest to cancer researchers is the phytochemical d-limonene, which has been shown in animal studies to help slow the rate of tumour growth, as well as increase the levels of liver enzymes that detoxify cancer-causing compounds (carcinogens). More cancer-specific information on d-limonene is from mskcc.org in their ‘About Herbs’ section. I use this Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center site a lot in my work, double-checking facts and getting new information on herbs and natural compounds that are used in cancer prevention and cancer treatment.
Other especially-lemony and citrussy recipes on food to glow are lemony courgette and fine bean tagliatelle in herbed creme fraiche, courgette, lemon and elderflower cake, watermelon, lime and green tea soothie, and lemon geranium cake. But really, most of my recipes have some kind of citrus in them. Told you I love citrus!
And, if you can’ get enough of the little orbs of sunshine, check out the other blogs’ participating in #citruslove. Click on any of the little thumbnail images to take you straight to a new recipe. I know I will be trying a few.