January 20, 2016


Mary Beth Johnson is a wife and mum to four schooners, as she's dubbed her children. On a normal afternoon, you would find her in moccasins, skinny jeans and a comfortable tee, camera in hand. Recently moving to the suburbs of Atlanta, Mary Beth spends her days homeschooling, sneaking away to the bookstore, trying to act the part of a southerner, and sifting through recipes in The Vegetarian Times. Food is her love language.

There was a business trip my dad took to California when I was a little girl and aside from getting on a plane and flying to another ocean I'd never seen before, I was enthralled by the fruit trees he said were in everyone's front yard. He described this utopian world in Palm Springs where the weather stays warm and people wake up and pick fresh fruit for their breakfasts every morning. Ever the romanticist, I could not wait to visit one day.

I visited Santa Barbara, Laguna Beach, and San Francisco when I was 17 and would later return with my husband for our honeymoon. Always a lover of citrus, the ocean, and flip flops, I found the state just as magical as I had imagined as a young girl. Even now, when I envision my happy place, I think of Cali and the water and picking lemons from my own backyard.

Someday I will have my own lemon tree and me and the kids will pick it clean every summer, making lemon curd and muffins and cakes. In the meantime, the grocery store will do. In the dead of winter. When I need a little pick-me-up and a trip to the beach sounds amazing.

I made this lemon loaf a couple of times last week and just couldn't stop - it's truly addicting! The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour in place of the gluten-free combination listed below. Since we do not have to be GF, I tried it both ways and was surprised that I actually preferred the gluten-free version better. (I like dense and nutty textures.) If you make it with all-purpose flour the loaf will round in the oven and look happy. The gluten-free version stays slightly flat.


 2 large eggs 
1/2 cup olive oil 
1/4 cup whole milk yogurt, buttermilk or coconut milk 
2 heaping Tbsp. meyer lemon zest 
2 Tbsp. meyer lemon juice 
2 tsp. lemon extract 
1/3 cup turbinado sugar 
1/2 cup natural cane sugar
 1 cup almond flour 
1/2 cup rice flour 
1/3 cup oat flour
 1 Tbsp. flaxseed meal
 1/2 tsp. sea salt
 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder lemon glaze 
1/3 cup meyer lemon juice
 2 Tbsp. natural cane sugar 

 Preheat the oven to 350'. Grease a 9'' loaf pan. Whisk the eggs, olive oil, yogurt (or alternative), zest and juice of the lemon and lemon extract together well. In another mixing bowl, combine both sugars, almond flour, rice flour, oat flour, flaxmeal, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix together. Add half of the dry mix to the wet, stir to combine, add the rest or the dry and stir everything together. Pour the mixture into a prepared 9'' loaf pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. While the cake bakes, make the glaze. Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat and cook until the sugar dissolves. When the cake is finished, let it cool for 10 minutes before inverting (if you choose). Prick holes in the top and pour the glaze over the warm cake. Let the cake cool completely while it absorbs the syrup. We drizzled ours with honey, but it's amazing all alone.