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May 13, 2024

When Life Gives You A Drought...

By Bernie Pilarski

There certainly has been lots of press recently about the ongoing drought in California, and to be sure, we are getting perilously low on water. There is talk here that if water is released from local reservoirs in accordance with Federal guidelines, that the Stanislaus river could go dry by later this year. It's a complicated issue, because there are adverse effects of not releasing the water as well -- things like salt water intrusion further into inland water sources. We're really caught between a rock and a dry place.

Don't feel too sorry for us yet, however. (Having grown up back East, I can not remember any set of conditions that would have made us in the least sympathetic to Californians. "They," that is the Californians, seemed to have pretty much the best of everything and had cool places like Hollywood and Disneyland, and besides, "they" didn't seem to care a bit about any of our Eastern problems like snow and road salt eroded car fenders.) Part of the problem we are having is that we failed to adequately prepare for the inevitability of a drought. But we will figure it out eventually. Remember just a few years ago when we were the poster child for mismanagement of state budgets? Everybody was writing us off and expecting us to go broke. Well, you haven't heard about that recently because we figured our way out ... mostly. Our budgets are now on time and more or less balanced. We'll probably spend ourselves into another hole in the future, but for the moment things are looking good. The water issue is the same way. I hope.

Oddly, if you look hard enough, there is always an up side to things. Yes there is a drought and we are taking fewer and shorter showers, but in the midst of our pungent odors, our lemon tree has decided that this is the kind of weather it loves. Lemon trees always seem to produce more lemons than you can reasonably use, but this year, our lemon tree seems to have declared a year long celebration of fecundity. It is absolutely loaded with lemons.

This is a special challenge to me since I have been trying to make better use of the fruits and veggies we grow on our property. I used all of our grape harvest last fall for instance, by making the usual jellies, but by adding raisins to our stores. (Raisin D'Etre, Part Two) I did much better with the pomegranate harvest also, and not one tomato went to waste. Granted, we did not have a great tomato harvest last year, but we know what to do with them when they come on this year. And this past winter, I ate enough red lettuce and spinach salads to qualify as a rabbit. But lemons? What do you do with lots and lots of lemons?

We are in this household about as prepared for a bumper lemon crop as you can be. Sand has been using them to add that jolt of acid that brightens up lots of plates, and she makes the very best chicken piccata I've ever tasted, and my daughter does a very refreshing lemon granita, and I do a mean lemon pie, and a creamy and delicious lemon curd. Now add to the list another refreshing lemon treat -- lemon kulfi.

Kulfi is frozen dairy dessert often referred to as "Indian ice cream." I stumbled upon one night while watching Chopped Canada on the Food Network, tried it out and found it to be delightful (Kulfi:Indian Ice Cream). Since I had lots of lemons on my hands, I thought I would try lemon kulfi.


Delicious, creamy and refreshing, a perfect summer dessert, and super simple to make. Here's the recipe:

Lemon Kulfi

  • Juice from 3 lemons
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk (see note below)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cream

1. Put all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk them together.

2. Pour the mixture into little dessert sized bowls (6 to 9 oz. ramekins), or into ice cream molds and pop them into the freezer for at least three hours, or better yet, over night.

Can't get much easier than that.

BTW -- lots of recipes call for sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated milk. If you want to do that, cool, but leave out the sugar. There is enough sugar in the sweetened milk to choke a cow.

And -- I substitute almond milk for the whole milk because of the family lactose intolerance issues, and because we live in the middle of the largest almond producing area in the world.

And -- 1/2 cup sugar is a good place to start. You may want less; I doubt you'll want more. And it is okay to substitute some non-sugar sweetener, like honey, or even no-cal sweetener like Stevia.

Do your best, lemon tree. We are prepared.

Article © Bernie Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2015-04-20
Image(s) © Bernie Pilarski. All rights reserved.
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