And so begins the month of April.
I love this month and with good reason. For starters, so many people that I love and care about were born in this month. My parents were married in April. Even though spring officially comes in March, here in Toronto, its first signs are usually visible in April. It’s the month when I look to the garden and finally begin planning again. Winter’s hold is officially over and come May, I know I’ll be out there deciding which new flowers to try this year, caring for my lavender, and planting the seemingly endless number of tomato plants. And of course, this year, we celebrate Easter on April 16th.
It really is the month of beginnings and celebrations.
In an attempt to find out a bit more about the origin of the month’s name, I found that the word April is believed to come from the Latin "aprillis", which roughly translated means "aperire" or "to open". Much lore surrounds the name of April, including the belief that it is possibly named after the Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. It’s also believed that the Anglo-Saxons referred to April as "Oster-monath" or "Eostur-monath", after Ostara or Eostre, the Saxon goddess of spring.
In a further explanation of why I love this month, I also discovered that the flowers of April are the daisy and, my favourite flower of all, the sweet pea. But ultimately, I think the reason why I love April so much is that I associate it with lemons. I’m not sure when this association began, I just know that come April, I go lemon crazy. I start filling the house with bowls of lemons. I take out yellow linens. I plan when I will bake my most favourite lemon dessert of all (you’ll read about this later this month). This year I even bought a new lemon zester!
I think it’s the bright yellow colour and that fragrance that just makes me so happy. It fills me with a sense of excitement and makes me want to get going, which is nice after the months of Canadian winter spent huddled indoors. Don’t get me wrong, huddling is nice, but the time does come when you can’t wait to throw off those blankets and welcome the sun and the warmth.
Naturally, when I was looking for my choice for the Cream Puffs in Venice Flavour of the Month for April 2006, I went directly to The Overburdened Bookshelf and chose Lori Longbotham’s Lemon Zest. This small, neat book is a monument to lemons in all their glory. And if you pick up a copy, don’t be fooled by the size. It’s packed full of incredible recipes and tips on how to use lemons in cooking and for a multitude of other purposes around the house.
The fact that this cookbook is written by Lori Longbotham also helps. I love Lori. Besides Lemon Zest I own Luscious Chocolate Desserts and I promise you that one day soon, Luscious Lemon Desserts will be mine as well. An accomplished author, Lori’s cookbooks are so appealing because it’s clear that she truly loves her subject, whether it’s lemon or chocolate. I look forward to treating all of you to many recipes from Lemon Zest throughout this month.
To get you started, I think you might find the recipe for Lemon Oil, from Lori’s book, most interesting. I’ve made flavoured oil in the past using red pepper flakes or rosemary, but never lemon zest. Not only was this oil easy to make, the results are incredible. The pairing of extra virgin olive oil with the fragrant and assertive flavour of lemon zest really surprised me. I love this oil and can’t wait to use it throughout the month.
April and lemons … for me they are linked.
Oh … by the way … while researching the month of April I also read that the birthstone for the month is the diamond … a girl’s (and a cream puff’s) best friend!
Recipe from Lemon Zest by Lori Longbotham.
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (try and use unwaxed lemons if you can find them)
- Pour the olive into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add the lemon zest and seal the jar. Shake well.
- Refrigerate the oil and lemon for at least three weeks. Once or twice a day give the jar a shake. If the oil hardens in the refrigerator, simply take it out and let it sit for a bit at room temperature and it will return to liquid form.
- After three weeks, strain the oil through a sieve. Pour the oil into a jar and store in the refrigerator. It’s now ready to use in salad dressings, with vegetables, or however you choose.