dessert

Lemon Bars

It seems that lemon bars are everywhere on the internet lately. I spotted them here, and a key lime variant here. A commentor even made mention of my beloved Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation of Ina Garten’s famed lemon bar recipe. Had enough yet? We’re not done. I agree that our taste buds need a jolt this time of year to get through this period of wintertime blues, so I’m throwing my hat in the ring as well.

I found this recipe about a year ago in Cooking Light magazine and have yet to taste it’s equal. Never say never, but using less sugar and cutting calories in the shortbread bottom makes for a delightfully light, tart bar, with a crisp cookie crust. I whipped these up using Meyer lemons I found at Trader Joe’s last week while stocking up on my tomato sauce and beef winter staples.

Baker’s Note: I omitted the toasted pine nuts in the recipe, lovely as they sound, because they are a bit more expensive than I wanted this batch to be. I’ve substituted almonds in the past, but wanted to see if this could be made nut-free for potentially serving to people with allergies. To make up for it, I used a cup of lightly spooned flour, stead of 3/4 of a cup. Worked like a charm.

This came out so well, that I think I’ll whip up another batch to bring to work for Valentine’s Day!

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A Few Days in Seattle, WA

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I recently took a trip to Seattle and was pleasantly surprised by what I found. First of all, just to get this out of the way, it really is that rainy and weather-y as my overcast photos attest. I’m told that the summertime is beautiful and crisp, but my east coast self got rained on a few times while I was there.

Seattle appealed to me because it is a fairly large and metropolitan city (this is the part that surprised me, not that I expected cabins in the woods, but I was taken aback by the soaring heights and architecturally unique towers). The people walking around downtown were chic and in-a-rush. Totally different than my granola expectations. The waterfront area was expectedly crawling with tourists, but not the way Manhattan is and with a different kind of tourist (presumably the west coast kind), who were less pushy with their camera and stroller. Pleasant.

It was one of the most unique waterfront districts I’ve ever seen, with an uncontrived high/low mix of businesses (and people, Seattle has plenty of homeless people). You get the feeling that businesses open up on the waterfront during different times of prosperity in the district and just stay open for business even when times change. Thus, the interesting and refreshing mix.

My exploration of the waterfront district is chronicled below. There were more nooks and crannies then I could possibly explore, so this is my unique experience through the narrow streets.

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Driven by hunger and in pursuit of food, I set off from my hotel downtown for a brisk 10 minute walk toward the water. I happened upon this pedestrian only alley and since I, of course, can never resist a tiny alley (and lights!), I turned in for a meander.

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I almost immediately saw Pike Place Chowder, but what really caught my eye were the bowls of thick creamy chowder and HUGE crab and lobster rolls on the tables of the casual diners already there. I’m telling you, they don’t make the crab rolls this big back east. Or at least I haven’t found them yet, somebody please let me know if I’m missing out…

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The lemony and crunchy with celery crab roll was slung onto a tray with a piece of extra-sourdough bread wrapped in a bit of plastic. The hot soup was ladled, also slung onto the tray and then the whole thing bumped down onto the counter in front of me. I sat along a diner style bar close to the huge windows and ate the super fresh and really well prepared seafood.

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Completely overstuffed, I staggered out of the restaurant and down the street to encounter a booming permanent farmer’s market. It was teeming with tourists, locals, vendors, restaurants, shops, and pretty much everything else that could be cramped into a few crazy hilly, cobblestone streets (and frequently stairs).

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This is a salmon city. It’s on every menu and for sale all over the waterfront farmer’s market.

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There is a full wildflower garden planted in what appears to be the gutters encircling the rooftops of the busy central area of the market.

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Ducking into a tiny alley between shops brought me outside to a sky high terrace at the top of a long flight of stairs.

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There are stairs and secret streets all over the waterfront district. I barely saw these curving steps out of the corner of my eye and slipped down on the narrow street below.

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At the bottom of the steps and under a dark pedestrian overpass, I stumbled across this crowd sourced bubblegum art all over the walls, cobblestone street, store signs, and pretty much every surface available. A uniform ombre effect is achieved in this piece of spontaneous street art by the varying heights of the individual gum chewing contributors.

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Staggering down the steepest cobblestone street ever brought me down to sea level. Where the street flattens out, the highway system streams overhead and the greenery drapes past the edge of the overpass to create an unexpected tunnel of plant life leading to the pier.

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A stormy sky loomed over an electric purple ferris wheel down by the water.

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As nighttime fell (and the cold came along with it) I was not unwillingly driven inside Maxmilien’s. It’s warmly lit and has the best chocolate cake ever. The fantastic views of the lit up waterfront pier and Mt. Rainier in the distance don’t hurt either.

DSC_0158This is the perfect chocolaty nightcap to a very successful wandering.