Monday, June 30, 2014

Everything's Coming Up Lemon Bars

Lemon bars divide people into those who think, 'they're fine, whatever, what's the big deal,' and those who think they're everything in the world. I fall into the latter camp. Big time.

It is surprising then, that I've never perfected a lemon bar recipe, have never had much luck making them myself. And most bakery versions are deeply disappointing. So I don't eat lemon bars very often. But I always want to.

This longing of mine filtered into a weird short story I wrote a few years ago, "And the Lemon Bar Stared Back at Me," whose protagonist is seduced, you might say, by an extremely good lemon bar. When it was published by the lovely online magazine Punchnel's last week (you can read it here), I felt inspired to once and for all make a lemon bar that would satisfy me. I started by gathering together recipes from the most popular and beloved food blogs and websites. I bought a big bag of lemons. A very big bag.

And it didn't go well at all. Four batches in and I did NOT have what I was looking for: too floury, too sugary, oily crust, not enough filling. Ugh. My house smelled great, but it was depressing to throw out all those inferior bars.

Fifth time was the charm. I should have started with Cooks Illustrated; in my experience their recipes are not always exciting, but they are almost always sturdy and reliable, and this lemon bar recipe is completely perfect: worthy of adoration; capable of seduction.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Kale and Pineapple Smoothie

Maybe you've had just a few nips too many lately.

For whatever reason.

Maybe you've been waiting and waiting for news that never will come, or maybe you're pining for some happy day gone by. Maybe you feel like you've been working two jobs (wait, maybe you have been working two jobs) and all-work-no-play is killing your soul. Maybe you wrote the chorus but the verses won't come, maybe your body is exhausted but your brain won't let you sleep, maybe your kid just moved into an apartment and you feel that terrible blend of relieved and shattered.

The reasons don't matter. What matters, for our purposes here, is this: your liver needs some love. It has to filter every drop of that so-called blood of yours.

Try this kale and pineapple smoothie for breakfast. According to my friend who mostly eats raw food and looks annoyingly good, pineapple is full of detoxifying agents that help neutralize toxins in the liver, and leafy greens have lots of chlorophyl which supports the liver and cleans the blood.

By my calculations, one of these smoothies cancels out one of last night's units, so do your own math and figure out how many servings you'll need. Okay I made that up, but I am trying to help.

Kale and Pineapple Smoothie
2 servings

2 cups kale or other greens, or mixture (I like kale, wheatgrass, and a few sprouts)
2 cups chopped fresh pineapple
1 banana
1 cup coconut milk or other milk

Blend. Drink. Repeat.