Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rainy Day Thoughts and Lemon Bars

Lego Lemon Bars
You know how sometimes you read a blog entry and it sets you thinking very intently about something that had been crossing your mind occasionally?
This blog entry by pastry chef Shuna Fish Lydon made me think that there was something I wanted to talk about in this post.
Amongst other things, she makes the point that to cook professionally you have to want it above all else, you have to be ready to give up normal hours, and you should have one way or another of supporting yourself that isn't through cooking professionally (at first anyway because you'll be be a no-pay or low-pay gofer).
There are two things that I would happily do 16 hours a day. One is work in film post production and the other is bake. I've been fortunate enough to do the first and will go back to doing that as soon as I can leave my perfect baby with someone else, but I will never do the second professionally, and that's ok because I've been able to do one of these two things which is more than most people get to do in life.
Now, if you've drifted in and out of reading this blog for as long as it's been around, you might know that I was trained as an engineer in college, but I think that if I remember my posts well enough, that may be all you know about me other than that I'm married with step-children, a new baby, and a menagerie of animals. So here's something I've been wanting to say on and off for a while now. I do not come from a family of people who love to cook or bake. My sister is probably the only person in my family that loves to cook. We were always told to do something practical like be an engineer before we went off and did anything else because it was a solid foundation for whatever else we might want to do. I don't begrudge my father for nudging us consciously and subconsciously in that direction because, even though I hardly use my engineering degree in the way it was intended anymore, that sort of mathematic and scientific foundation is useful every day in a myriad ways (including when I bake). It is interesting to me though that I'm suddenly realizing that if I had thought it was an option back when I was 18, I would have probably wanted to go to pastry school. As is, I went to graduate film school instead and here I am, doing something I love for a living, lucky me. The reason I wanted to mention this train of thought now is because I look at my two month-old daughter (today! boy time sure does fly) and my step-daughter, who is 9, and feel like my job as their mom is to make it possible for them to do whatever they want to do and to let them explore every option if possible so that they too can end up doing something they love. That's not a very deep thought, I know, but it's so important to me I felt like I needed to verbalize it somehow.

Lemon Bar Tartlet
What does this have to do with lemon bars? Well nothing really, I'd just been dying for some lemon pastry after seeing all these lemon desserts all over the blogosphere and baking them gave me a little bit of time to think about what I was talking about above. The recipe is from the Tartine Cookbook by Elizabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson with some minor tweaks here and there such as a little less sugar and unrefined blond cane sugar at that (I try to replace refined white sugar with unrefined sugar as much as possible where allowed) and pine nuts in the brown butter shortbread crust which is an optional addition in the recipe (and which I highly recommend). I'd made these once before with Meyer Lemons and did not like them nearly as much as I liked these made with regular lemons (and here is where I confess to those of you who've read this far that I don't think I like Meyer Lemons very much because to me a lemon should be tart and acidic and make me pucker and Meyer lemons just don't do it for me. I know, I can hear the collective gasp from all over the foodosphere). I also didn't have a 9x13 inch pan to bake them in so the surplus from my slightly smaller pan went into tartlet molds for those of us, such as A., who can handle a bigger piece than a 2 square-inch lemon bar.
A new picture of Baby Saffron will accompany this post tomorrow. Gotta get back to her now, my little precious...
"Maman! You are such a doofus sticking that big camera in my face!"

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14 comments:

Y said...

Great post. I can't wait to see some pics of your baby. I did one year of engineering at University, so have total respect for all engineers. Oh, and I've always wanted to make that lemon bar recipe from Tartine! Yours look so wonderful.

Hilda said...

Thanks Y. Frankly it was a lot better in my head when I thought of it, this version seems rather incoherent to me, but I haven't got a lot of brain cells left at the moment so holding any thought long enough to write it down is a pretty big victory.

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

I loved reading the post...& your thoughts tumbling outta your head. Life has strange equations & it's fun trying to find your balance. The little cherub is adoreable! And of course, the lemon bars are INDULGENT! Citrus in baking is right up my street!

Jamie said...

Ha! My dad was the same! He pushed us to be professional somethings first and above all or we would fall into the old role of dependent woman, mom and housewife, although he never explained why that was bad (actually I think he wanted us to be able to survive alone, just in case...)

And your daughter is GORGEOUS!!! Thanks for posting a photo! Adorable. And what? you posted a dessert, too? I only see that baby!

ejm said...

Mmmm, lemon bars....

-Elizabeth

Sharon said...

Love her big brown eyes!

Wanna B Thin 2 said...

My goodness! Baby Saffron has grown so much in just a few months.

Heather said...

Oh dear. I think my goal in life tomorrow is to find a lemon bar and eat it.

Stacy said...

Again, yum, and now I too must find a lemon bar soon...

Kat said...

What a sweetheart!

Jeanne said...

Yup, it's true - you do in fact have the prefect baby! And so true - it must be so hard as a parent not to impose your hopes and dreams on your children, but the best thing you can do is to give them time and space to explore till they know what it is that THEY want to do.

Sari said...

She's such a cutie!

Anonymous said...

comment comment. thanks for the good work.

Ted said...

I love lemon bars. And that picture of Papoose.

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