In our family lemon butter was made and eaten on Easter Sunday as an accompaniment to our ham, potato salad, and so forth. No one knows why we had this only on Easter. My grandmother, Emma Spear, who was born in 1897, remembered having lemon butter on Easter as a young girl. Her grandmother made it, so the recipe and stories have been passed down through the generations.
One year, for instance, my grandmother didn't think the color of the lemon butter was yellow enough, so she added some yellow food coloring. It changed the sauce to bright orange! She was so upset over this that she made a whole new batch. We love to laugh about this one.
Lemon butter is really more of a lemon sauce. As children, my brother and I loved it, but as we got older and low-fat, low-sugar recipes became the vogue, we shunned the treat as something "too fattening." We would always eat a little to be polite, but our family noted our lack of enthusiasm.
Then, in her old age my grandmother became a diabetic. She could no longer eat the lemon butter, and because none of us insisted on it, she stopped making it a few years ago. But I've decided I miss this family tradition. This Easter I'll make lemon butter. I know my grandmother would approve, and I hope my children enjoy it as much as I did.
2 cups water
1-1/2 cups sugar
juice and grated zest of 2 large lemons
a large lump of butter (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Beat eggs well, then beat in water, sugar, and lemon. Place in a heavy, nonreactive saucepan over low flame and add the butter. Cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened (do not let it boil). Dissolve cornstarch in 3 tablespoons water, stir it in, and continue to cook and stir until sauce thickly coats the spoon.