Friday, June 17, 2011

Rockin' My Bumps

Back when I first got preggers, I don’t think anyone called it a bump.  You were just pregnant.  The clothes weren’t very cool either.  I had a well meaning friend, send me a plastic tote of hand-me-downs like this…….
My husband was so excited because now we wouldn’t have to buy any maternity clothes. (We were both in school, had no money, and had absolutely no business having a child.)  I went into the bedroom and cried and cried.  I was cute, skinny and young..... so how could I wear anything like that?  Luckily, we had only been married for 5 months and the crying thing still had power over him.  So the next day, I got to go shopping for new clothes!
This is me with baby bump #1 hiking the Tetons in Wyoming.  We had just canoed out to island on a lake and my husband just HAD to take this pic.  I had about 3 or 4 weeks to go.
With baby #2 comfort clothes trumped the cool clothes.  It was at this point that I discovered the pleasures of giant maternity underwear.  I also wore leggings for 10 months straight.  Looking back, it was a horrible look for me and my chicken legs.  Where were my friends?
Finally, it is on to baby #3.   By this time, I was a baby making pro, but with a two and a three year old at home, I was too busy to make it out of the house and shop, let alone take on the high fashion maternity world.  I seem to recall my favorite pair of flannel pants and a t-shirt that my husband would make fun of.

And then I got to turn around and make fun of him, and his choice of sympathy attire.
Way to rock it babe.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lemon Bars Lost

A couple of months ago, I made some lemon bars that were exquisite.  They were perfect blend of melt-in-your-mouth sweetness and tart.  My husband and I cleaned off the entire pan together and swore we could never eat another lemon bar again.  Of course, when it comes to decadent desserts, my husband is a weak, weak man……and he asked for me to make them again a few weeks later.
Guess what?  I lost the recipe.  It’s gone.  I’m not sure if I found it on the internet or in my extensive collection of church cookbooks.  I looked and looked.  I found some that seemed like they might be “the one”, but after trying out FOUR different recipes, I had pretty much given up hope.  All was lost.
And then….in a magical moment of Googling, I came across a recipe that was different, yet held some promise.  I quickly ran to the store to buy more lemons and real butter.  This HAD to work.
I greased.  I grated.  I pulsed.  I pressed.  I whisked.  I poured.   And when all was baked and cooled, I had found a lemon bar recipe that might have surpassed the superbness of the first recipe…and Microsoft Word says that the word supurbness doesn’t even exist.  That’s how good they are.  Enjoy!
(PS.  I am still on a quest to find the first missing recipe.  If you have any good ones, let me know!)
Lemon Bars
Adapted from Ina Garten May, 1998


The Crust
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar — plus extra to
decorate finished bars
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter — (1 1/2 sticks) at
very cool room temperature, cut into
1-inch pieces, plus extra for greasing pan

The Filling
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

The lemon filling must be added to a warm crust. The 30-minute chilling and 20-minute baking of the crust should allow plenty of time to prepare the filling. Also, the bars must cool completely before cutting.  It will end up more like a lemon bar cobbler, vs. bars if they don’t cool.

1. For the crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and line with one sheet parchment or wax paper. Dot paper with butter, then lay second sheet crosswise over it.
2. Combine flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add butter and mix into a coarse meal (like sand), with a mixer. Sprinkle mixture into lined pan and press firmly with fingers into even, 1/4-inch layer over entire pan bottom and about 1/2 inch up sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and then bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
3. For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.
4. Dust with Confectioners’ sugar and cut into squares.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Swim Like A Stingray

It was a goal of mine to make it past this last weekend.  My week was packed with entertaining the mother-in-law, the fifth grade graduation slide show from hell, and volunteering my time and talents (like telling people, “No you can’t go down that hallway!”) for our base running club.  But by far, the highlight of my maniac week/weekend, was the final swim meet of the season.
Abbey and Allie are both on the Yokota Stingrays swim team.  Back in September when we they first tried out, I didn’t know how it would go.  I sent them both happily into the pool and when they came back out they were both crying.  Hysterically.  
The coach assured me that they just weren’t used to the 50 meter pool and the intensity of the practice.  We definitely weren’t in the neighborhood swim club back in Texas anymore.  The girls continued to cry.
At home, I somehow convinced them to keep on trying.  Maybe it was the once-in-a-life-time-opportunity speech I came up with.  Or maybe it was the heart wrenching story I told them about me giving up the swim team in ninth grade, only to wish I was still on it my senior year.  Sigh.  Most likely, it was the promise of Subway every Thursday night after practice that motivated them to keep on trying.
And try they did.  Five days a week for the last 9+ months Abbey and Allison have become swimming machines.  (Ooh, and I became the wet towel toting, goggle adjusting, Speedo buying queen!)  I am so proud of how hard they have worked and all they have learned.
Hopefully, they will look back one day and be proud of accomplishing what they thought they couldn’t do. But deep in my heart, I hope they don’t just say, “Geez.  Remember when mom MADE us be on the swim team in Japan?  That sure sucked.”
Great job girls!  Stick with it.  Your hard work and commitment will take you anywhere you want to be in life.  Mama loves you.
Now all we have to do is inspire Amber to be on the swim team too.  This one’s not going to be so easy.