Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Pucker Up Those Lemon Lips.

Remember those Country Time Lemonade commercials from the 1990's?  The narrator’s baritone, overlaid upon soothing jazz music, enticing us to enjoy the simple pleasures.

 “Summer...ahh...warm breezes blowing...laughter with friends...and ice-cold Country Time Lemonade...”

There is something about lemons, even though they are sour in taste and give us pucker faces, that makes us crave them. We use them to make drinks, desserts, use as an ingredient in main dish meals, and even saturate our homes through cleaning supplies.  While cutting off paper thin slices of lemon peel, for my Lemon Fruit Scones recipe, the scent of the lemons filled my nostrils.  Yes, it was like the old commercial of laying on the grass, gazing at the sky, figuring out what animals the clouds looked like, and sipping on ice-cold lemonade.


Did you know that the lemon is not a naturally occurring fruit, but a hybrid species?  It is a combination of bitter orange (a citrus fruit native to East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Syria, and Southeast Asia) and citron (ancient fruit with a very thick rind and bumpy skin; also, the origin of the lime).  Originally, bitter orange, citron and, eventually, the lemon were primarily used for medicinal purposes in Asian and African countries.  It was not until the 18th century when a Scottish doctor, James Lind, discovered a connection between eating/drinking citrus fruits, and eliminating scurvy in sailors.  Once again though, as a medicinal purpose.

How did lemons come to the United States?  We have those explorers, from Spain, to thank once again as they planted lemon seeds, in what we now know as, California in the 1700s.  The other three states where lemon trees flourish best are Arizona, Florida and Texas.  Lemon trees bloom throughout the year, so readily abundant, on the American market, as opposed to the Meyer lemon.  Meyer lemons are a smaller, sweeter hybrid, used in dessert making, jams, jellies, specialty cocktails and fruit salads.  They are harvested mainly between the months of November to April, and are more costly than the common lemon.

How did lemons go from being a medicine to a popular, thirst-quenching refreshment.  The earliest recorded “lemonade” recipe came from 14th century Egypt with the use of sugar, dates or honey to sweeten the beverage.   The French, however, in the 1600s, claim they invented honey lemonade, so here we go again with another origin story.  In America, 1838 saw the first published recipe for lemonade made with egg whites, and during the Temperance movement, it was pushed as a suitable replacement for “demon rum”.  Any way you slice it, mix water, lemon juice, fresh lemon slices and sweetener, and you have lemonade.


So, back to those scones I mentioned earlier on.  It is a basic scone recipe with lemon being the main taste ingredient.  Using freshly squeezed juice and minced lemon peel (aka zest) will actually give you that exactly, a fresh lemon scent and taste.  Dried lemon peel can be used, but reconstituting it, with bottled lemon juice, not water, is a good cheat. 

Dried vs. Fresh Lemon Peel (Zest)







Lemon Scone Made with Blueberries and Using Dried Lemon Peel

First, I made the scones using blueberries and the “cheat”.  Personally, I found them lacking in lemon flavor, and definitely the number of blueberries used.  However, and here’s a huge thank you to my guinea pigs (aka taste testers) for their very much appreciated feedback.  While one felt it was a perfect combination, the rest agreed with my assessment, and I went with majority rule to tweak the recipe.


Dough Ball

Dough Pressed Out

Score Dough into 8 Triangles

Fully Baked

Separate and Let Cool

Glaze Made with Dried Lemon Peel.

Second batch was made with fresh lemon, but raspberries, and a half cup more than the original recipe called for in fruit.  Oh my, what a difference in taste, scent and texture!  Yes, yes, fresh is always best, but when all you have is dried lemon…you get the gist of it, right?

Lemon Scone Made with Raspberries and Using Fresh Lemon Peel.


Cut Butter into Dry Ingredients
Crumbled Mixture












Scored Dough
Baked, Separate, Cool

Glaze Ingredients
Glaze Made with Fresh Lemon Peel


Well now, it is summertime, so go out and enjoy some lazing in the shade, with an ice-cold glass of lemonade, and a glaze covered scone to nosh away the hungries.

Lemon Fruit Scones


2 cups all-purpose flour (add 3 Tbsp. for high altitude)

1 Tbsp. baking powder

3 Tbsp. sugar (or sugar substitute)

½ tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. finely minced, fresh lemon zest, divided in half (if dried 1 and ½ Tbsp. + 1 tsp. lemon juice mixed in)

6 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1 and ½ cups fresh blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or cut-up strawberries (if frozen, thaw, and drain any excess liquid)

1 tsp. lemon juice  

3/4 cup 2% milk

For The Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup 2 % milk

½ tsp. lemon juice

lemon zest


Preheat oven to 400F; line baking sheet with parchment paper, and lightly sprinkle with flour.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour and baking powder.  Add sugar, salt, and half of the lemon zest. Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender, or fork, until mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Add in fruit, lightly coat with dry mixture.  Add lemon juice and milk; fold gently until the mixture forms a soft dough. It will be wet and sticky, but do not add extra flour or knead dough.

Turn dough out onto floured parchment paper, and cover hands with flour as well.  Pat dough out into a 1-inch diameter circle; use a sharp knife to score dough into 8 equal triangles.

Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until scones begin to turn brown.  Carefully move parchment paper to a cooling rack for 10 minutes.  Use a knife to cut completely through score marks and separate scones; let cool another 10 minutes.

Make glaze by whisking together powdered sugar, milk, lemon juice, and remaining lemon zest until smooth. (If glaze is too thick, add a bit more milk; if too thin, add more powdered sugar.)  Drizzle scones with the glaze; place in refrigerator to firm up glaze on scones.   Before serving, bring up to room temperature, or warm up, individually, in the microwave for 15 seconds.

Servings: 8

Mary Cokenour



Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Pioneers Celebrate with Pork

Welcome July! In Utah, there are two holidays that are celebrated with much revelry, food and fireworks.  July 4th starts out the month to celebrate the American colonies declaring independence from Mother England.  The end of month celebration is July 24th, Pioneer Day, which commemorates entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into Utah's Salt Lake Valley in 1847.

Perusing through my collection of Utah state, and Mormon influenced, cookbooks, there was one recipe that seemed to be a popular Pioneer Day dish, Pork Stew.  Salt pork was the main ingredient, if not available, then thick cut bacon was the secondary option.  Now the question is, “Why the use of salt pork?”

First, we have to understand what salt pork is, how it is processed, and why was it so important to the pioneers?  Cut from the pork belly, is resembles uncut bacon, but much fattier.  The excess fat allows for the salt, in the curing process, to be absorbed fully, and preserve the meat.  Layers of salt and pork belly are covered in water and soaked for up to three hours.  The meat is removed and hung to dry before being wrapped carefully.  During the 17th to 19th centuries, and mainly used by the military, salt pork could last up to 18 months, so it kept men fed during the worst circumstances.

For pioneers traveling to the untamed West, salt pork was a necessary item on the list of provisions; along with dried fruit, vegetables, spices, grains and a variety of long-lasting food items.  Travel was by wagon train, horses, or on foot; there were no restaurants along the way to feed weary travelers, and no stores to buy more goods.

The Brigham Young caravan left Iowa City to make a 1,300-mile trek to the Great Salt Lake Valley.  They were known as the “hand cart pioneers” as they did not have the benefit of wagons, nor oxen.  Each person was allowed to carry only 17 pounds on their person, while the carts were loaded up from 400 to 500 pounds of food, bedding, clothing and cooking tools.  The carts were pushed and pulled by “people power” only.  Now this is a reenactment I would like to see!

In The Mormon Pioneer Cookbook (page 85) and Utah Cook Book (page 33), there are two very similar recipes, both giving credit to the 1847 pioneers.  Salt pork, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, water, pepper are the ingredients listed.  Salt?  There was already an abundance of salt preserving the pork, so adding would have made the stew inedible.  Basic preparation was to add all ingredients to a pot, place over the fire and cook until the potatoes were tender.

Nowadays, we have available a huge variety of foods, spices, and cooking gadgets that surely outshine those simple recipes from long ago.  To make my updated version of pioneer pork stew, pork, potatoes, onions and tomatoes were a must; adding beans, garlic and chili powder gives it a deeper southwestern flair.  Oh, and instead of salt pork or thick cut bacon, I cheated and used boneless pork chops which are leaner.  Come now, you know how I do not follow rules when I can get away with it.


Pork Chop Stew



6 (2 lbs.) boneless pork loin chops

5 small potatoes, peeled, cubed and parboiled

1 medium onion, chopped

½ tsp. ground black pepper

2 tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. garlic powder

2 cups red kidney beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed

5 plum (Roma) tomatoes, chopped

2 Tbsp. flour

2 cups beef broth


Spray a 4-quart crock pot dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Begin placing layers of ingredients inside:  pork chops; potatoes and onion mixed together; sprinkle spices evenly; kidney beans; tomatoes.





In a small bowl, whisk flour into the beef broth to create a slurry; pour over all ingredients in the crock pot dish.  Cover, set on low and cook for 6-8 hours; potatoes, beans and pork should be fork tender.

Makes six servings.

Perhaps, when celebrating this year, you might consider cooking up some of those recipes from the pioneers, and get the full effect of what their first celebration was like.

Mary Cokenour


Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Roy Cokenour Reviews His Wife’s Cooking.

Review by Roy Cokenour with Notes by Mary Cokenour



As many are aware, my wife, Mary, writes a food column for our local paper, The San Juan Record; and also has her own food blog, Food Adventures of a Comfort Cook.  She has often reviewed restaurants, other food related businesses, products and gadgets.  I am, of course, her main guinea pig for food experiments worked up in Mary’s lab, aka kitchen.  So, is it any wonder that I believe it is time for someone to review her culinary skills?  …and here I go.


First sampled was the tortellini salad. Diced purple onions, homemade balsamic dressing transported me immediately to the Grecian Islands. The dish beckoned me to float in the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, making me eager to taste the skewers of chicken, peppers and mushrooms.





Laying a half skewer portion onto Naan bread, Feta cheese added which infused its rich flavor into the grilled meat and vegetables. A golden light fell upon me, a warm wind torn at my clothes, as if I was inside a culinary whirlwind.  The flavor of the marinaded chicken and grilled vegetables were caught in a net of soft, warm, unleavened bread.  I was in food heaven!  


And then, I partook of the German Bratwurst.

Okay. Mary makes a friggin’ awesome Bratwurst. Cooked perfectly on the grill, sauteed onions and peppers, and a touch of spicy mustard, on a toasted bun. Perfecto!!  But when she said German Style Bratwurst I was immediately intrigued. I was unprepared for this divine culinary experience however.

Glistening on a toasted bun, sauteed onions and peppers draped over the crisp, split skin of the sausage. Nostrils flaring!  What was that enticing scent!?! Something smoky, sweet, and a subtle hint of savory spices. I took my first bite. The already split skin of the sausage snapped and I felt the drums of ancient Germanic tribes’ pulse through me. The flavor thrummed in my mouth and I heard the voice of my ancestors calling. “Come warrior! Eat, drink and be merry!”

The texture and flavor washed over me and the gates of Valhalla opened. The sauteed onions and peppers combined with the perfectly grilled Bratwurst, lifting me up on wings of ecstasy. A chorus of deep Viking voices welcomed me. “SKALL!”, they cried, and I felt myself surrounded by my brethren. My lovely wife, my Hearth Maiden, smiled at me and I saw the Valkyrie in her raise an axe in victory.

I was smitten! My will shattered! No other sausage can compare. I slumped at the table, defeated, yet wildly exhilarated.

Roy Cokenour



First off, thanks to my loving husband for this ecstatic review of my cooking and grilling.


Besides the Smoked German Brand Sausage, there was also Old-Fashioned Frankfurters.  These were purchased at Blue Mountain Foods, and a product of Hill’s Premium Meats (Hill Meat Company) of Pendleton, Oregon.  Family owned and operated; this company has been providing quality meat products since 1947.







The frozen tortellini, Feta cheese, Naan bread, chicken tenderloins, mini-bell peppers, whole mushrooms and onions (white and purple) were all purchased at Blue Mountain Foods as well.







Marinade for the chicken tenderloins (18 in count) was one cup olive oil, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, one heaping tablespoon minced garlic and two teaspoons of Italian herbal mix.  In a large, sealable container, place the chicken tenderloins (small white ligament previously removed from each) and pour the marinade over; use a hand to thoroughly coat the chicken with the marinade. Seal container and marinade overnight.  Do not marinade the peppers and mushrooms.



For the skewers, alternate bell pepper chunks, mushrooms and tenderloins.  Mix up a cup of additional marinade to brush over the vegetables as they grill.  The marinade will give some flavor to the peppers and mushrooms, but the overall true flavor, of the vegetables, will come through.   







I used metal skewers, but if you only have the wooden ones, make sure to soak them, for 30 minutes, in warm water.  This will keep them from catching fire, and burning, on the grill.  Or, soak them in oil for 5 minutes; food will slide on more easily, and they still will not burn as opposed to being untreated.





Dressing for the tortellini salad is the same as the above marinade, except a ¼ teaspoon of both ground black pepper and salt were added.  Mix the dressing in a medium sized bowl.  Cook the one-pound bag of frozen tortellini, drain thoroughly and add to the bowl, folding the pasta into the dressing so as to not break apart the delicate filled pasta.

So, there you have it, cooking and grilling at the Cokenour homestead, and a review, by my own husband, of my culinary achievements.  Summer time will be grilling time for most households, so consider amping up the menu with Mediterranean style skewers (aka kabobs), and German influenced brats and frankfurters (thicker than the average American hot dog).

Mary Cokenour