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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Squeeze and Zest Baby, squeeze and zest

Have you ever in your whole life seen a kitchen more fit for lemon bars than this one?

I confess to a case of sour-obsession. As a child I would slip out into the front yard, pluck lemons straight off the tree and devour them like candy. At the ice cream parlor I would choose the tartest sorbet over any syrupy-sweet milky treat. And just yesterday I made myself a bit sick after popping a whole bowl of kumquats, one rindy orange ball after another. And while I avoid the twin evils, Corn Syrup and Red Dye No. 40, like the plague, every once in a great while I cave to the lure of a bag of sour candy (the devil made me do it).

(for the record, 10:00 am is a perfectly acceptable time for a lemon bar)

So it really comes as no surprise that the only baking recipe I can call 100% my own creation is one for Lemon-Limey Bars. It took months of experimentations and more than a sack of citrus but I must say, I'm pretty pleased. I'm not sure what your plans are this weekend, but I suggest they start with a bag of flour and a handful of limes.

(BC ate half)

- For your baking pleasure -

UmberDove's Lemon-Limey Bars

you will need:
1 Cup Butter
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar

4 Eggs (beaten well)
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
4 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup mixed FRESHLY SQUEEZED lemon and lime juices
1 1/2 Tbsp-ish grated lemon and lime peel

Preheat oven to 325* fahrenheit and get out your favorite 9"x13" baking dish (mine is bright orange, which I think encourages the little citrus along). Cut the butter into the flour and powdered sugar, knead until well mixed. Press into your unbuttered 9"x13" pan, pop that baby into the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes. The crust will still be pale, with a little golden hint around the edges.

Meanwhile prepare the filling...
Beat those eggs well, then mix in the sugar, flour, juice and zest. A word on the citrus: I generally go through two limes and two lemons here. Zest the citrus before juicing it to make your life a whole lot easier and if possible, use organic fruit as you're eating the peel! Pour this mixture over the hot crust, sling it back into the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. Cool as long as you can hold out, dust with powdered sugar if you're fancy and serve up!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Back on the Horse

1. Well I'm happy to report that I've finally got around to plucking my eyebrows (Dire. Need.). When you have such lush fields of brow to work with it is a feat indeed, and one that can go terribly wrong when the tweezers managed to scurry off into an unlabeled box that may or may not have contained the following: one shoe (not "one pair" but one shoe), a chartreuse planter pot wrapped in a "drink a coke" t-shirt, and a motley crew of beanies. Got to love those final mish-mash boxes.

2. I got a bit nutty with spray paint this week; it's my official drug of choice. I get a crazed look in the eyes, matched by the creepy respirator breathing, and EVERYTHING in sight is in danger of a new paint color. Obsessive compulsive is one way to describe it. The squirrel is next.

3. I'm baking scratch lemon-lime bars this afternoon. Drop on by, I'll serve one up on a wee limey plate, dusted with sugar and a tall glass of sparkling water. You really should taste one.

4. I officially love you all. And I'm really sorry for little miss camera's be-bopping during this high quality filming. She's just terribly excited to be back in use after such a hiatus, so please forgive her groovin' and shakin' (or just join in).


The lemon-lime bars are DELICIOUS. I'll be posting the recipe, as it is my very own version, right here in just a bit (as in, tomorrow).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Addressing the Huge Elephant standing in the center of the Room

First off, let me just say that I've missed this space these last two weeks. I know I've been nearly silent and for that I'm sorry - especially when there are updates on vegetables (THRILLING), loads of doe-eyed cows (CHARMING) and the cutest darn vintage mug I've ever found for only two dollars (HEART-STOPPINGLY FABULOUS). I want to tell you about all these fascinating bits and pieces but I've been paralyzed and mute in the corner while a huge wooly mammoth stands between me and this keyboard. So it's time to tell you the story of "what's happened to Umber in the month of April."

The truth is, times have been tricky and I've really struggled with even opening my computer for the last two weeks. And I promise, it's not you, it's me. Do you remember last month when I wrote of a medical scare and then said something along of the lines of "I don't plan on saying much more in this forum?" Well I misspoke.

At that time I had found a lump (which, by the way, has become one of the most ominous words in the English language) in Lady Lefty which I had checked and imaged. The doctors told me they were "not at all worried" and that they "would be shocked to find out if it was anything but perfectly normal" but in the name of being 100% sure, recommended I wait until I moved to California and then have it biopsied (that was when I wrote this blog post). Well a few days later I received a phone call from the doctor's assistant, who told me that after the full report, they thought I should come in sooner than later to have the biopsy preformed just to be positive. Which, of course, I did.

And then on Friday April 2nd, sometime early evening, with a moving van sitting our driveway and piles of boxes every where I turned, I received THAT phone call. I was diagnosed with breast cancer and so many things flipped upside down in that second, it took me days to figure out gravity again.

Fast forward to present time, here and now in Northern California: I have found a doctor in San Francisco at the UC Medical Cancer campus whom I met last Friday for my initial consultation, plus a team of other professionals who I feel good working with and entrusting with my needs. The good news is that the area of concern is small and that I caught things early on. I'm waiting to be scheduled for a MRI which will give me a wealth of information to make informed decisions with (decisions such as my surgery options, radiation options, etc.) and then be scheduled for my removal of the big C.

As a whole, I've been in incredibly good spirits and I attribute this WHOLY to the women and men out there whom I know have been sending their love and prayers my way for healing and strength (you know who you are. I'm so grateful for you it nearly brings me to tears). But the truth is, this is one of the scariest roads I've walked and even though I KNOW I'll come out on the other side more sinewy and polished than ever, it's still hard.

I will heal.

And I will try my very hardest to love my body through this.

I have no desire to make this blog my vent space for this issue but this is now a part of my life, and I will turn and face it, I will be proactive in every way possible and I will be unable to not share this journey with you. So there is it. And now here we are. Is it time to start talking about cherry blossoms yet?

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Day Umber Turned 30...

... the morning air smelled faintly of coffee and fresh strawberries.

...there was breakfast in bed (my every-birthday breakfast, which must consist of strawberries dipped in sour cream and dusted with brown sugar. try it. you'll like it.)

... there were tiny packages of seedlings to cradle, heirloom, straight from the farmer's market in all shapes of kale, sugar snaps, brussel sprouts, broccoli, leeks, bunching onions, zucchini, and a handful of herbs - including CURRY - who knew?

... there was a light sweat to be worked up while a mild rain drizzled down.

... and new raised planter boxes springing into life.

... there was ice cream and sorbet (he had the vanilla-penut butter in a cone, i opted for the grapefruit sorbet in a bowl) before lunch, packages wrapped in purple tissue and pink flowers. there was the [inevitable] rush to scrub the mud from fingertips and don gold wrap-tops and vintage furs.

... there was hot sake, broccoli flipped straight off the grill and [almost] into my mouth, a blaze of fire and seared scallops.

... there was a moonlit walk on the docks, under an eerily calm ocean sky.

... and then the glorious private finnish hot tubs, deep and steaming, under the blackened sky and the scent of redwoods, sitting chin-deep listening to the frogs sing.

all in all
my thoughts on turning 30
are quite grand indeed.

Monday, April 5, 2010


I'm back,
and I love you more than ever!
- Umber

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Toast Part Two (Wilds Version)

Dear Pacific NorthWest,

I love you dearly.

With all my heart,
- Umber

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My City: A toast to the past three years

After a long weekend down in California prepping, painting, and scrubbing our new place (imagine the kitchen of a single bachelor who cooked only using a fry-daddy - that's the grease level I spend hours removing) we're back for the last couple days of life in Washington.

It's bittersweet leaving this land that I've loved so fiercely, that I've learned so much from, that has washed my wounds and planted hope in my soul. Seattle, you've been gentle and kind. You've been the life of the party and my melancholy companion. I leave a piece of me here with you, forever, and take a part of you with my, tattooed across my heart. I promise to remember the lessons you've taught me, to keep that faith, to uphold who I've become.

And lastly I promise to visit, and often.