I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rain, Morning Thoughts and Lemon Bars

"Hidden, oh hidden
in the high fog
the house we live in,
beneath the magnetic rock,
rain-, rainbow-ridden,
where blood-black
bromelias, lichens,
owls, and the lint
of the waterfalls cling,
familiar, unbidden."
by Elizabeth Bishop
This morning was a wild one. Strong wind and steady rain lashed the garden and hills beyond. The wind railed against the house making Cutter nervous...
and sending Carl under the bed.
Watching through the window, I enjoyed the view of the storm from the safety of our living room.
 Within an hour or so, the rain let up and the sun came through the clouds for a short time.
 I stepped outside for a few minutes. The air was cold. The wind wild.
The daffodils bent and swayed on their delicate, yielding stems...
 I could hear the creek, through the wind, as it swelled again and overflowed its rocky edges. And then the wind picked up, drowning out the creekwater sounds and my sweater wasn't enough warmth anymore. I went back inside.
I cleaned up the kitchen, thought about finishing the new scarf I have been working on, and wrote a few emails. I went back into the kitchen and as I grabbed a banana, I saw this lemon.
This lemon was with a few others in the bottom of the fruit bowl. There it was, staring at me, covered with mildew and mold... and looking rather annoyed. I took it out and set it on the sink.
The other lemons were fine. It was then that I remembered  purchasing a bag of them at Wall Mart last week, thinking that I would make some lemon bars for my family at Easter. The lemon bars didn't happen... apple crisp happened instead. So I had all these lemons and now this one was going south really fast. There were four more in a bag, in the refrigerator. Lots of lemons... what should I do? 
Well, it was still raining outside. (YES, that's a Halloween pumpkin on the porch. I just can't throw it away. It's still pretty and it hasn't rotted out yet.)
The laundry was caught up. The house was fairly clean. The knitting could wait. I was still suffering from withdrawals over my Nuno felting disaster and  the lemons were waiting for redemption.
So, clearly, there was only one thing to do. Make some Lemon Bars.
First I "zested" the lemons, them I squeezed them.
This is the very old Betty Crocker's Cookbook that I love and use all the time. I've had this cookbook since I was first married and that, my friends, was a long, long time ago.
 This is the recipe, on page 270.
I follow this recipe exactly... except for putting maybe a teaspoon of lemon zest into the flour/butter mixture that bakes first. Other than this addition, which I think is a good idea, I make them just like it reads. Oh, I don't cut them up either, unless we have company.
I love Lemon Bars. What I really mean is... I LOVE LEMON BARS. 
This, for me, is what Weight Watcher's calls a "red light" food. So this is a very dangerous dessert to have sitting around the house. Do I sound like I care? It was raining and I had lemons. Some times "fate steps in and sees you through".
 We don't cut them up into bars. We just cut them as we eat them. It's easier this way.
 We already taste tested them for lunch.
The Prospector said that they were really good. I had to have another piece before I could make a definitive decision. Yea, I know. It's all about quality control. Actually, it's all about control... sort of. It's about eating only quality products, with enjoyment, and savoring every bite. It's about the logic of eating well and having control over one's environment. Yes, That's it. That sounds about right. 
I'm the mistress of my kitchen and I like to make sure that my Lemon Bars are the same good quality every time. 
Sounds like a rationalization doesn't it? Yea... it is. I simply LOVE Lemon Bars. That's the truth.
But it all has to do with habit and control. It's kind of like marking my store bought eggs with H.B. when I hard boil them. 
Even though I only hard boil ''store bought" eggs and they're the only WHITE eggs in the fridge.
What can I say. It's a control issue. I don't need to do it...all the other eggs are from the coop and they are colored. Our chicken eggs don't hard boil well and the shells stick to the egg ( even with ice cubes), so when I want to hard boil eggs or a deviled egg holiday comes 'round , I buy the "store" eggs. And when I hard boil them, I mark them H.B. Don't make this into an issue. It's just the way I roll. It's who I am.
The empty lemon rinds go into a bag and into the freezer.
 I use them with some salt and vinegar to clean the sink, the grout between the tile and to cut up and throw down the disposal, which I never use but has to be cleaned out once in a while... just because.
It makes the kitchen smell great.

I would invite you all over for dessert but... there won't be that much left by dinnertime.
Sorry... but, the recipe is easy and I won't say a word to anyone if you aren't having company. 
Lemon Bars are a guilty pleasure.... better savored alone... or with a special someone.
Owl update:
He flew to the Mock Orange, from his perch in the eaves, last night just before dark. I went out and took this photo of him. He stayed there and let me get close enough to take a great picture. 
 This morning he didn't return. Where does he go and what places does he stay in when the weather is like this? I wish I could follow him and find out.


  1. Wow. That is an amazing photo of the owl. How cool that he let you get a close-up.

    I Love lemon bars. Anything lemon, actually. But bars are the best. Those old cookbooks are so nice to have. I still have a church cookbook my mom gave me when I was 16. I use it frequently.

  2. wow another great owl shot...and i love lemon bars...and apple crisp so it would be a toss up...smiles...cool on how you use the peels....

  3. Love love love lemon bars too! As for your eggs...I was told that the fresher the egg the harder to peel after being boiled. Ours are like that too. My mom used to draw little Chinese faces on our hard boiled eggs and I still do the same. Not sure what the significance was but...tradition has carried on.

  4. I'll have to try that recipe!!

    We had a thunder storm yesterday, rattling back and forth across the valley.

    The reason your own eggs don't peel well after boiling....they are fresh!! They'd need to be a week old....and I'm sure that shop bought eggs are at least that!!!

  5. Great catching up with you, and I LOVE lemon bars. Used to make them all the time.

    Glad the Owl is still coming around. We can learn a lot from nature.

    Peace and happiness your way...

  6. Maybe the owl will come back if you offer him a lemon bar? But they are probably all gone now. I am enjoying the storm too but have to go out to Placerville later today. Not so much fun to drive in it. Love T

  7. LOVE lemon bars too Farmlady, but I am just as likely to make lemon curd when life gives me lemon.
    I concur with what you said about "eating only quality products and savoring every bite"!
    Oh & what a grand idea to mark the HB eggs, though I usually separate them completely!

  8. PS your owl is gorgeous & he will help keep the rodents under control.

  9. Those daffs look "exploded"! Love the view of your beautiful yard....

  10. The lemon bars look so yummy. I know they were good. The owl is really quite beautiful glad he is
    coming back to visit you. Take care and have a blessed evening. Madeline

  11. Hmmm... I've never tried Lemon Bars, but I do make a lot of lemon butter or lemon curd. It's delicious spread on crumpets or pancakes, but I have to admit to just eating it by the spoonful every now and again!

    The owl photo is gorgeous! And good for you, for getting such a wonderful closeup!

  12. I just attempted to leave a comment, but blogger has been playing up with me lately and I doubt if it went through. :(

    I've never tried Lemon Bars, but I adore anything lemony! I usually make lemon curd or lemon butter a few times a year and it's delicious on crumpets or pancakes - although I have to admit to eating it by the spoonful at times. But don't tell anyone I admitted to it. ;)


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