“The snow is coming down
In our New England town
And it’s been falling all day long
What else is new?
What can I do?
But sing this valley winter song
I wrote for you”
(Fountains of Wayne, 2003)
Nope. No, No, No.
I’m having a lot of trouble being motivated to do anything, let alone go out in the 3+ feet of snow that has piled up in the yard over the last two weeks. Life has been reduced to waiting for the snow to start, waiting for the snow to stop, waiting for the snow to be cleaned up, and getting the most essential errands run in the short breaks in between. The snowbanks are too high to see around, so entering intersecting streets is done by creeping slowly forward, hoping you don’t lose the front end of your car to someone else’s carelessness or inattentiveness. Parking spots, even in lots, are becoming hard to find, as the snow has to be piled up somewhere. Hibernation has become extremely attractive. Staying indoors, warm and dry, until spring sounds like a really good plan right now.
I have been cooking; it’s my therapy of choice. But even that has its limitations; the kitchen fills with dishes that need washing and putting away, and my family can only eat so much at one time. Once the refrigerator is full of leftovers, I have to stop and let them catch up to my ambition/neurosis. When it’s possible, I will squirrel away leftovers in the freezer, to make room for more, but some things just don’t freeze well, so I must wait for The Husband and The Boy to work through it all.
Thankfully, there were no baked sweet treats in the house, because there were finally Meyer lemons in the grocery store. Time to make the lemon bars.
Now. That’s. What. I’m. Talking. About. These are the lemon bars I was looking for. I changed a few things: 1) I cut the recipe in half; it works perfectly in an 8″x 8″ baking dish, and it’s the right size for my family’s eating habits. 2) I combined Meyer lemon juice with regular lemon juice to boost the acidity to help the filling set. 3) I doubled the amount of flour in the filling, for texture and stability.
Meyer Lemon Bars (adapted from Joy of Cooking)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, in 1/2″ cubes
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
zest of one Meyer lemon
6 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice (from two Meyer lemons)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (from half a regular lemon)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
First, make the crust:
1. Preheat the oven to 325 deg.F. Whisk together in a bowl the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt.
2. Add the butter, and using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work in the butter until the pieces are the size of small peas. Press the dough into the bottom and 3/4 inch up the sides of an ungreased 8×8-inch baking pan.
3. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and reduce the oven to 300 deg.F.
Next, the filling:
4. Whisk together in a large bowl the eggs and sugar, until well combined. Whisk in the zest and juice. Sift the 1/2 C flour over the top of the mixture, and whisk in until well blended and smooth.
5. Pour the batter over the baked crust. Bake about 30 minutes, until the topping is set. Cool in the pan on a cooling rack.
Oooh, these kick Old Man Winter right in his snowballs. The crust is tender and buttery, and the filling is loaded with flavor, starting off sweet and innocent, and then BLAMMO! powerful lemon tartness comes through. As a bonus, the filling is stable enough to pick up in your fingers, but smooth and creamy in your mouth. Of course, their bright sunny color is a tonic, for eyes wearied by the constant onslaught of white.
It is snowing again as I write this. In the words of Fountains of Wayne, “What else is new? What can I do?” I’ll just keep cooking; it has to stop snowing eventually. If you don’t hear from me until spring, you know where I’ll be.