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(Taken from The Book of Knowledge, edited by Harold F.B. Wheeler)

The demand for lemons increases by leaps and bounds as the mercury rises. In Italy, Sicily, Corsica, and other parts of southern Europe, particularly in Spain and Portugal, lemon culture has been a large commercial industry for many years.

The lemon is a close relative of the orange and has followed it all over the world. The straggling branches of the lemon tree, however, are very unlike the compact dense foliage of the orange, and the purplish flowers have not the agreeable fragrance of the white orange blossoms.

The lemon is much less hardy than the orange and the area of cultivation is more restricted. It is cultivated and propagated in much the same manner as is its near kinsman the orange.

If lemons ripen on the trees they lose their keeping quality, and so they are picked green, before there is any sign of the golden yellow colouring. Each picker has a little ring 2¼ inches in diameter, and the fruit is cut when it can just slip through the ring. From the moment the lemons are harvested they must be handled as carefully as eggs. In dark storehouses, well ventilated but free from draughts, they are spread out and slowly ripened. In curing, the fruit shrinks a little, the skin becomes thinner and tougher and develops a silky finish. When the process is completed the lemons are washed, dried, and wrapped in tissue paper. In this condition they will keep for months, which is a very good thing for the growers, as most of the fruit ripens in the winter and the great market demand is in the summer.

The lemon is used in more different ways than any other of the citrus fruits. From the rind, lemon oil or extract, used in flavouring and perfumery-making, is obtained either by expression or distillation, and candied lemon peel is made. The pulp yields citrate of lime, citric acid, and lemon juice. Besides its use in flavouring foods and drinks of various kinds, lemon juice is much used by calico printers to produce greater clearness in the white parts of patterns dyed with dyes containing iron.

Scientific name Citrus limonia, the lemon tree is exceedingly fruitful.

Recipe taken from Nigella Christmas by Queen of Gastroporn Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus, £25)

This involves a simple, but amply satisfying procedure. In advance, as soon as you get your bird home, remove any trussing, take out the giblets and stash them separately in the fridge. Before putting the turkey in the fridge, wash the inside of the bird with cold running water. Drain well and blot dry with kitchen towels.

The important thing is that you take your bird out of the fridge a good hour before you want to start cooking it, so that it’s at room temperature before you begin. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Now comes the bosomy bit. You take your turkey and, using your fingers, wiggle some space between the skin and breast of the bird, being careful not to tear the skin. (Mind you, turkey skin is so tough, you’d probably need talons to rupture it.) Into this space you’ve made, squeeze good sausage meat, or the contents of your favourite butcher’s sausages (900g of either should be enough for a 5.5kg turkey), pushing, pressing and coaxing so that it covers the whole breast.

Then, from on top of the skin, mould it a little with your hand so that the breast is voluptuously but smoothly bulging. Secure the flaps of skin over the cavity with a metal skewer so that the sausage meat doesn’t escape during cooking.

The skin really crisps up as this turkey roasts, and the sausage meat, which drips down into the breast as it cooks, keeps the meat from drying out. To ensure the turkey doesn’t brown too rapidly, cover it loosely with a sheet of buttered foil until halfway through the cooking time about 2 hours 40 minutes total for a 5.5kg bird with its sausagey faux-bosom). You could then dispense with the chipolatas (or stuffing if you can live without it), so this is a good way of cutting down on dishes to prepare, without making huge sacrifices.

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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