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lemon bars

i don’t know if you noticed, but it’s HOT outside right now. so hot, in fact, that when people ask what i’ve made in the kitchen lately, i’ve actually found myself saying “it’s too hot to even think about making food.” while i wish i was a bit more motivated, i’m having a pretty good time just snacking on fresh fruit constantly because it’s easier and more refreshing. fact: i can eat an entire watermelon without even realizing, and with juice still dripping off my chin, ask for another. bananas, strawberries, oranges – there are few lazier foods for hot summer days.

kids aren’t really troubled by the heat. they’ll stay outside all day playing just because they can. meanwhile, i’m racing from one shady air-conditioned place to another in a desperate attempt to stay cool and keep from getting skin cancer (my skin has two settings: pallid white and lobster red). wow, i’m sounding really old here. anyway, the kids in my neighborhood have taken to selling lemonade on the corner, and while i haven’t indulged them yet (2 bucks a glass?!), i found myself thinking, during my sprint from the bus stop to my apartment door, about how delicious lemon bars would be.

the girl pointed me to this recipe, and i’m eternally grateful. they have oatmeal in the dough, which is something i’ve never seen before. it’s a great excuse to eat oatmeal, since the only time i use it is in baking. i got my fill of mushy hot oatmeal on boy scout camping trips growing up. it’s also an incredibly simple recipe that doesn’t require any eggs. really, you can have this in the oven in less than 10 minutes.

what’s so great about lemon bars? how about the combination of sweet and sour, the refreshing bite of the filling, the realization that you are going to finish the entire tray of bars before they make it out of the kitchen…

lemon bars
adapted from foodnetwork.com [1]. makes one 13″x9″ pan of bars.

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups oatmeal (not instant)
juice of 3 lemons
zest of 2 lemons, chopped fine
zest of 1 orange, chopped fine
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
confectioner’s sugar for dusting

1. in a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar and add the flour to make the dough. the butter can be a little soft, but it should not be melted. the mixture should be crumbly. butter a 9″x13″ pan and press the dough into the pan.

2. in another bowl, stir the juice and zest into the condensed milk. spread the lemon mixture evenly on top of the dough. bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.

3. when cooled, cut into squares. dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.