When Life Gives You Lemons? Make Lemon Bars!

October 13, 2010

Most high schoolers come home from school and dread cracking open the textbooks, sharpening pencils, and getting down to the business of homework.  I must admit, usually I am not dying to come home and commence a night of tedious homework, but last night was a little bit different.  Life doesn’t get much better when your homework involves baking lemon squares.

My family eats dinner at an abnormally late hour for a family with a seventh grader due to not-family-friendly soccer schedules, so I set up my “mise en place” around 9, before we indulged ourselves in salsa-filled baked chimichangas shortly then after.  After dinner, my “mise en place” was ready to go, so I could immediately start baking.

My Mise en Place ready to go!

First came the crust. I had the privilege of practicing my newly acquired skill of cutting butter into flour and powdered sugar.  Locating and retrieving the pastry cutter from the depths of our crammed cooking-utensil drawer was the most difficult part of this process…

Our oven is about twelve years old, so needless to say, it is a little bit quixotic. It was slightly miraculous that the crust baked for a little bit longer than twenty minutes and turned out smelling marvelously.

The baked crust (in front of the baked chimichangas...)

As the crust baked and then cooled, I began mixing the wet ingredients.  For this step of the recipe, I got to zest lemons.  Note to self: do not zest the part of the lemon where there is green ink. Who’s brilliant idea was it to write stuff on lemons? This complicates the lives of aspiring lemon zesters.  Also, it is very beneficial if you do NOT have cuts or open cuticles on your hands as you squeeze lemons.  Here’s some simple math: Lemon juice + wound = pain.  After I overcame my lemon dilemmas, I could focus on folding the flour into the egg, lemon, lemon zest, and sugar mixture. Once the liquid mixture was properly folded, I poured it on top of the crust and was ready to go.

The baked crust with lemon filling. Mmmm...

With potholders at the ready, I loaded the baking dish in the oven, and prayed that the oven would not do anything too crazy to my precious lemon squares.  Once I placed the pan in the precarious oven, I found a pretty piece of china for the final presentation of the lemon squares.  I then went on a mad dash through the fruit bowl, fridge, and freezer in a search for berries to put on the lemon square plate. Unfortunately, I was on a wild goose chase, because the closest thing I found to berries was an orange and the lemon I had already used in the wet ingredients.  With a serrated knife, I carefully cut the orange and lemon (not my finger…) into cute little circles to add to the presentation of the lemon squares.

Before I knew it, the lemon squares were ready to depart the oven, set and cool, and finally get dusted with sifted powdered sugar.  I carefully positioned the most-attractive lemon square next to the lemon and orange circles on the gold-trimmed piece of china, and was ready to photograph.  Even though the pictures were taken inside (since it was 11:30 PM, there was no light outside…), they turned out decently. Well, just take a look for yourself:

The final product! (My brothers may or may not be drooling behind me)

When the rest of the lemon squares were finally set and ready to go, my brothers eagerly taste-tested them.  They noted that my “homework was delicious.”  But, for me, the coolest part of the night was a little bit more global. As I was baking and then eating lemon squares, my family and I were watching the struggle to save the 33 Chilean miners who have been stuck under ground for 68 days.  The second that I first bit down into my lemon square, my eyes were fixed on the TV, and I saw the coffin-like capsule approach the surface with the first rescued miner.  This moment was history-in-the-making and will surely work its way into future history textbooks.  For me, I will always remember that the moment when the first miner was miraculously rescued, I was making lemon squares.  I will always be thankful that I was eating lemon squares instead of being retrieved from under a mile and a half of rock in the center of the earth.  It was a humbling experience for me, and the lemon square was absolutely delicious. I was glad to share this emotional moment with my family through the concoction of lemon squares.

-Seltzer Sayre

PS-Check out Serena-Sundae’s post (“TA-DA!!! And Lemon Squares”) for the full recipe!

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One Response to “When Life Gives You Lemons? Make Lemon Bars!”

  1. Great post Seltzer Sayre! The Lemon Squares really are amazing. – Sophia Pizzera

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