crazy stuff,  domesticity,  fighting the fat gene,  I'm an idiot,  Lemon Week,  raving lunatic rant,  spilling my guts,  Stealthy Spy Cooking

Citrus Week Day Two: Lemon Bars!


Good thing I’m the boss here at Lemon Week SAJ because anybody else would be FIRED! So it’s day two…sort of. I didn’t say I’d do all the days in a row! Whatever, right? Just write something already.


So far we’ve made lemon scones, lemonade, a vodka drink for me (that I called SAJ-quil because I was fighting an irritating cold that I am now over) and Lemon Bars!

I love LOVE lemon bars. It’s really bad. I inherited this love of lemon and sugar and butter from my mom and now just like my mom, I find myself battling extra pounds on my body that make me less lithe than I’d like to be. Dumb genetics! I shouldn’t have made the lemon bars because it is next to impossible for me to walk by the refrigerator door without hearing those little bars screaming for me.

Shut up! Lemon bars, shut up!!!!! (I can hear them all the way from my seat at the table.) I am so taking them to a friend’s house and leaving them there. Ack.

Weight schmeight. (My attitude becomes me, I know.) In my book, you can’t have a lemon week without lemon bars so here I am introducing them to Bug just like my mom introduced them to me. Hopefully, Bug takes after her dad and doesn’t inherit my thunder thighs or my incredible lack of willpower.

mixer girl waiting for the crust to be ready

Bug loves to cook with me in the kitchen, the poor kid. She also has to put up with my harebrained method of recipe-reading that involves frantic number-checking and re-checking and then weeping and wailing because I cannot read a recipe from top to bottom in order without skimming or leaving out major parts.

I’ve always thought I was retarded because I cannot keep numbers in my head longer than a butterfly sneeze. I’ll read 1 1/2 cups and then by the time I walk from the cookbook back to my mixing bowl, I’ve forgotten whether it was 1/2 or 1 1/2. I know most of you will laugh at me but this is a serious problem for me when it comes to baking. In fact, this is why I don’t bake usually. It’s way too much work for me. You should see me racing back and forth across my kitchen trying to put together a list of three ingredients. It’s insane. And then sometimes I mix up teaspoons with tablespoons and you can see why things don’t always come out right.

I’ve self-diagnosed myself with dyscalculia, which is sort of like dyslexia but with numbers instead of letters. I’ve always hated math ever since I was forced to play “math baseball” in second grade. I remember I practically peed myself in fear as I stood at the blackboard staring at the squiggles while the class shouted at me to add or subtract. I’ve managed through the years, figuring out ways of counting on my fingers secretly or making up complicated dot patterns. But recently with motherhood it’s gotten worse. Sometimes when I’m at the bank, I have to write my account number three times before I get it right. It can be pretty embarrassing.

Anyway, this is not a moan-fest about how much I hate math. I just wanted to include that so you can see why baking is extra fun for me. I can design notecards and web banners and even packaging while using a ruler and fractions and picas just fine but for some reason when I’m in the kitchen, I get struck with major anxiety about reading numbers or just plain reading. It’s weird.

shortbread crust! sugaring the top

I mostly wrote all those words about math anxiety and dyscalculia so that you don’t laugh when I tell you that I misread the lemon bar recipe (thanks Calee for the link!) and somehow couldn’t figure out how to make the shortbread crust that goes under the lemon bars. I thought it wasn’t included in the recipe so I found another recipe online and used that. But it wasn’t enough so I had to make two batches. Amazingly, it all turned out fine. I don’t know how but it did. I guess shortbread crusts are indestructible.

But because of my crazy-making recipe reading, Bug had to wait quite a bit between the crust-making and the lemon-bar-mix—making which is fine. Patience is a virtue right?

lemon bar!

The lemon bars were divine.

me and my chins love lemon bars

Me and my many chins enjoyed them mightily.


  • Kuky

    Mmmmm now I’m in the mood to bake some. But the only thing I can ever make when I have a spur of the moment desire to bake, is chocolate chip cookies. I always have ingredients for that, well almost always. But I rarely have lemons, darn it. That means a trip to the grocery store before I can try these. Bummer.

  • jaynette

    I always hid the way I counted numbers. I invented a method using dice dots. THEN, when the kids were in 1st grade the teacher taught them something she called “dot matrix”….the same damn method I had been using for 40 years!!!

    Lemon bars…I’d have to eat the whole pan because Toby’s brother doesn’t eat sweets. Have you ever made a small batch of cheese cake and placed that on top of the cookie, then bake. Then you add the lemon-ness and bake again. Beyond yummy.

  • Texas T-bone

    I loooooove lemon bars, almost as much as lemon meringue pie.

    Tell me that’s not your daughter growing up too fast! Crazy thing about the Internet … it lives and breathes even when you don’t make it to the corners where you used to hang out!

  • nicole

    2 things:
    1. i have the same math issue…also includes the inability to retain telephone numbers.
    2. lemon bars are possibly the best dessert ever.

  • Sharna

    I have such a number phobia. I have screwed up many a recipe… Sometimes my screw up was an improvement but I could never quite figure out WHAT I did wrong that made it so good… lol! I knew I was in trouble as a parent when I couldn’t understand my son’s Kindergarten homework! My hubby is a math wiz but travels for work… We’ve come up with a system where I photograph and email the homework to dad and he helps the kids over the phone. Btw, I adore your blog!

  • Kelley

    De-lurking for a moment to pass on a grown-ups only lemon recipe..Limoncello

    I’ve never tried making it myself yet because they always suggest organic lemons, untreated with all the gook and not coated in wax to preserve them, and being a Mid-Atlantic resident those cost rather dearly! However, you have such a wonderful abundance of them it should be perfect for you!

    As for not being able to remember numbers for measurements, I tend to do the same thing. Just comfort yourself with the fact that all that dashing back and forth to check and re-check will help keep down the calories that those lemon bars are going to contribute to the waistline!

  • Abigail

    I do the rechecking thing in the kitchen too. To help I’ve started rewriting the recipe. This is actually something you might totally love cause I do it like you daily illos. I draw the different bowls I’ll need and the ingredients for each one. The formal way that recipes are formatted are just too much reading all about for my pea brain. Plus I’m messy so I have to rewrite it, otherwise I’d ruin my laptop/cookbook/magazine.

    Another idea would be to make Bug (when she’s a bit older maybe?) rewrite each ingredient and measurement onto an index card and then follow you around with it. No remembering required. Plus, when I was a kid I would have loved to keep my own “recipe” box.

  • Laura

    I have the same check, double check, triple check issue. And then it is also… “wait… did that say bakng powder or baking soda? Oh… soda. (walk away two steps) Soda? Am I sure? (walk back, check) yep Soda. I even go so far as to leave the ingredients on the counter so I can confirm that I used everything I was supposed to when it is all mixed together. That way I know I put in the right number of eggs and pulled the soda out instead of the powder. It is a wonder I ever get any baking done!

  • bethany actually

    I swear I commented on this post. Maybe that was only in my head. Huh.

    That patching-two-recipes-together thing is hard to do with baking, so you’re to be congratulated on doing it successfully! The more you bake the easier that gets, too. Also, the more you bake the more you kind of know intuitively how much of an ingredient probably goes into whatever you’re making, so if you get across the kitchen and think, “Shoot, was it 1 1/2 or 1/2 cups of flour!?” you will probably be able to work it out without re-checking. So keep baking, my friend! :-)

  • Blue Kaeru

    My youngest son has dyscalculia and as an engineer who excelled at math, finding a way to help him learn is very stressful to both of us. He is pretty extreme. He is difficulties with directions (up, down, left, right) and it was apparent when he was a wee one that even though he knew where to place a puzzle piece, he couldn’t rotate it to make it fit. It took him a year to figure out how to add one to another number.

    That said, I am thinking that his issue may be one that I passed on to him. While I love math and excelled at it, I have discovered that many of the “cheats” I developed as a kid are what they are teaching him to cope. I also LOVE to bake but must check and recheck and recheck and then do a final run through the recipe over the bowl before I am confident with the recipe. It also explains why I tend to use cake mixes rather than from scratch and then focus on the decorating.

    The lemon bars look lovely. My kids have never tried them. I may need to rememdy that fact. I grew up with them and Mom always froze in small portions to avoid the temptation. As they freeze well, it is worth a try. ;-)

  • Leanne

    This is a beautiful post as usual. You are such a fun, creative mom. However, your issues about body image in this post make me sad. I know they were meant mostly in jest and I know that we as women talk this way about ourselves all the time. But we shouldn’t. It leads to bigger problems, this I know. Appreciate yourself and all you have to offer. Be kind to yourself.

  • Edilene

    Olá, amiga!
    Conheci seu cantinho… amei!!!
    Lindo, criativo, alegre!…
    Você é muito talentosa… parabéns!
    Um ótimo fim de semana!
    Itabira – Brasil