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When Life Gives You Lemons — Start Cooking!

Winter has gone on too long, and we’re all craving a little sun-shine. Let lemons bring the color and flavor of the sun to your table. Lemon is a great companion for the first crops of the year like asparagus, carrots and greens. Here comes the sun!


Glazed Lemon Pound Cake

Yield: 12 servings
1 (18.25-ounce) package lemon cake mix
1 (3-ounce) package lemon instant pudding mix
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup plus 1 teaspoon water, divided
4 eggs
¼ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a Bundt pan with cooking spray and lightly dust with flour. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, oil, 1 cup of water, eggs and zest. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. Transfer batter to the prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan 20 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

In a medium bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, lemon juice and remaining water until smooth. Transfer the cooled cake to a serving platter and drizzle with the glaze. Let stand at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


Lemon Sherbet

Yield: 8 servings
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups dry white wine
2 lemons, juiced and zested
1 orange, juiced
½ cup whipping cream

Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook 4 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Transfer to a shallow container and stir in the wine, lemon juice and orange juice. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon zest (freeze the remainder for a later use). Cover and freeze for 1 hour. Whisk and freeze for 30 minutes longer. Meanwhile, whip the cream. Whisk the lemon mixture and fold in the whipped cream. Freeze 1 hour and serve. If not ready to serve, remove from the freezer about 15 minutes before serving if frozen solid.


Easy Lemon Cookies

Yield: 1 ½ dozen cookies
1 (18.25-ounce) package lemon cake mix
½ cup lemon juice
½ cup vegetable or canola oil
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Very lightly grease two cookie sheets and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cake mix, lemon juice, oil and egg at medium speed until thoroughly blended. Using a tablespoon, scoop batter and place 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake 10-11 minutes, watching carefully to make sure the cookies do not overbrown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Lemon Shrimp and Grits

Yield: 4 servings
4 cups chicken stock, divided
1 small lemon, juiced and zested
¾ cup old-fashioned grits
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh (or 1 teaspoon dried) basil or tarragon
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1 pound large or medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
4 lemon wedges

Place 3 cups of the stock along with the juice and zest in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, slowly add the grits, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook 12-14 minutes or until the grits are thick. Remove from the heat and let stand 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining stock for 1 minute in the microwave. Cover and set aside. Place the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, for 5-6 minutes or until the onions are soft. Sprinkle with the flour, basil or tarragon and mustard. Cook 30 seconds longer, and slowly add the warm stock. Stir in the shrimp, and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until the shrimp are opaque. Remove from the heat and season with the salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon the grits into warm serving bowls and top with the shrimp mixture. Serve warm with the lemon wedges.


Asparagus with Warm Lemon Vinaigrette

Yield: 4 servings
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon black pepper
32 asparagus spears, trimmed
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup heavy cream
¾ teaspoon curry powder
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine or champagne vinegar
Lemon zest for garnish

Place the oil, sugar, half of the salt and the black pepper in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus and saute for 2 minutes. Add just enough water to cover the spears, and increase the heat to high. Cook 2 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the lemon juice, cream, curry powder and remaining salt. Place over low heat until hot. Slowly add the oil in a steady stream, whisking vigorously to incorporate. Stir in the vinegar.

Remove the asparagus from the cooking liquid and place on a serving platter. Drizzle with the warm dressing, and garnish with lemon zest. Serve warm.

Note: Refrigerate any leftover dressing and use within four days.

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About Author

Tammy Algood

Originally from Starkville, Miss., Tammy Algood is a viticulture and wholesale produce specialist for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture's Market Development Division. She has a Bachelor’s of Science from Mississippi State University and a Master’s from Middle Tennessee State University. She writes about food for The Tennessean and monthly for The Tennessee Magazine. As the spokesperson for the statewide “Pick Tennessee Products” campaign, Tammy also develops recipes for their website at www.picktnproducts.org. Broadcast appearances include Nashville’s local ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates as well as statewide on PBS. Tammy can also be seen nationally on the HGTV and DIY networks.

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