Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mrs. Diggs Lemon Bars

It seems like I’ve been writing about desserts a lot lately, but a few weeks ago I was given a recipe I’ve been trying to get my hands on for over 20 years. The recipe is for Mrs. Diggs lemon bars.

Mrs. Diggs was the grandmother of my college roommate, Wende, and she used to send us these heavenly lemon bars meticulously wrapped in wax paper and packaged in a wrapped shoe box. They were always delicious and although Wende and I haven’t really kept in touch, I’ve never forgotten those homemade lemon bars.

In spite of the increased distance between Wende and I over the last 22 years, I have stayed in touch with her mother, Judy. I spent a few days with Judy in March while working out of town in D.C. and at some point during that visit I asked her if she had the recipe for her mother’s lemon bars. Judy said hadn’t thought of those bars in years and didn’t know the recipe or if her mother had left a copy anywhere. A few weeks later as Judy prepared to come and visit us over the Mother’s Day weekend, she unexpectedly found her mother’s hand-written recipe for the lemon bars while flipping through an old Better Homes & Gardens. Judy proudly presented me with the recipe the morning of Mother’s Day. It was such a wonderful surprise.

A few days later, Olivia and I tried the recipe and I’m happy to report they’re as delicious as I'd remembered. We made another batch this afternoon and it’s really the perfect soon-to-be-summer treat. Thanks to Judy and the spirit of Mrs. Diggs for looking out!

Mrs. Diggs Lemon Bars

1 cup of flour
1/3 cup of sifted confectionary sugar
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon of baking powder
¼ teaspoon of salt
3 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 ½ teaspoon grated lemon peel
½ cup of fresh lemon juice

Heat oven to 350 degrees

• Combine 1 cup of flour and 1/3 cup of sifted confectionary sugar; cut in butter with a pastry blender (or use knife) until mixture is crumbly.
• Lightly grease 11”x7” baking dish.
• Press crumbly mixture into the bottom of the baking dish and back for 20 minutes. Watch carefully.
• Whisk together granulated sugar and the remaining ingredients.
• Pour over crust.
• Bake again at 350 degrees for another 20 minutes or until the filling is firm.
• Remove from oven and let cool completely.
• Cut into squares, remove from dish and sprinkle with confectionary sugar.
• Makes about 2 dozen.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Yesterday was my birthday. For days Loverman asked what I wanted to do on my special day, and I kept assuring him I just wanted a nice quiet day with him and the kids. I meant it having just returned from five days out of town co-facilitating a digital storytelling workshop.

The day started just as I envisioned with the opening of birthday cards and gifts. Loverman then fixed a great breakfast and I got ready to go the day spa for a relaxing mani-pedi. Later in the afternoon, we’d be heading to Allyson’s for little birthday bar-b-que.

As I was getting in the car to go to the day spa, Olivia ran up to the car window with her friend, Jessica, asking if Jessica could join us for dinner at Allyson’s. My internal response was—“NO!” because I didn’t want the responsibility of keeping an eye on someone else’s kid on my birthday, but of course I couldn’t say all of that with the dear girl standing right in front of me, so I sucked it up and said, “Sure.”

When I returned home, completely Zen-ed out from mani-pedi, Jessica and Olivia were checking out a movie in the living room. Yannick was nowhere in sight. Loverman explained that Yannick was playing with Jeffrey (Jessica’s younger brother) at Jeffrey’s house. About a half an hour later, Yannick and Jeffrey popped into the kitchen, both sucking on juice pouches. Before I could even ask what they were up to, Yannick asked if Jeffrey, too, could join us at Allyson’s. Again… what the heck was I supposed to say with Jeffrey standing right there? For the second time on my special day, I sucked it up and said, “Sure.”

Really, what could I do? Fortunately, both Jessica and Jeffrey are nice, polite and absolutely no trouble. It’s just my nice, quiet birthday with family seemed to be morphing into a totally different scene than I’d anticipated. That’s right, a pair of 7 and 10 year olds just hijacked my birthday plans.

So, I called Jessica and Jeffrey’s parents assured them we’d be home before 10 and wished them a nice evening alone, without the kids. Lucky them!

To be honest, everything worked out fine. I had a great time. The four kids were no trouble. In fact, I’m sure Jessica and Jeffrey’s presence kept the kids out of our hair and everyone was happy and able to enjoy themselves. But, believe me… one of the first things I’m going to do today is have a conversation with Olivia and Yannick about the importance of checking in with us prior to extending invitations to their friends.

Friday, May 15, 2009

What Are The Odds?

I haven’t had a regular monthly menstrual cycle since I started using the Mirena IUD six months after having Yannick seven years ago. It’s a lovely, effective form of birth control that I highly recommend. With the Mirena, I get extremely light periods, maybe three or four times a year. Half the time, I don’t give it a second thought until I notice a bit of spotting, but what are the odds, that on this gloriously warm spring day, Miss Ruby would decide to make a visit when I’m sporting a pair of white capris? DAMN!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

If Not Now----- When?

I need some insight…. according to Olivia, most of her classmates have cell phones, and she’s been badgering me and Loverman to let her join their ranks.

Olivia just turned 10 and is in the 4th grade. Besides being cheap and in no rush to assume another monthly expense, I can’t seem to process what in the heck my girl would do with a cell phone other than create inane reasons to call her girlfriends. We take her and her brother to and from school every day. We’ve yet to find ourselves in a situation where we needed to get in touch her and couldn’t.

I’m clear on why she doesn’t need a phone now, but I haven’t been able to get my head around when is the right time/age? For now it seems a phone would be necessary if she would was traveling alone on a daily basis. I know pay phones aren’t as prevalent as they were when I was a kid and I think if Olivia was traveling alone (or with her younger brother) on public transportation a cell phone would be useful, but unless I’m missing something, I still have a little more time before I have to cross that bridge.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sunshine and Cupcakes

Today my co-workers hosted a farewell luncheon for our director of development. I didn’t participate in passive protest to how he’s handled his impending departure.

The story is... he and his partner are relocating to New York, and although I’m sure this move has been in the making for months, he only informed us of his resignation two weeks ago. Yes, I know two weeks notice is standard, but this guy is a director of a department and in charge of coordinating our annual fundraiser scheduled for the first Sunday in June. Prior to, and since his resignation, he’s been totally lax in pulling the event together.

Now… I know we'll pull it off, but his decision to leave at this stage of the game has left us in a terribly vulnerable position. I just think the responsible thing to do would have included either giving at least a month’s notice or postponing his departure until after the fundraiser. When working in a non-profit environment, you're usually working with too few hands to accomplish all that needs to get done, and I would have just appreciated it if this cat had gotten his hustle on, so that the rest of us wouldn't be left scrambling to do three month’s worth of work in less than a month.

Sure, maybe I should have approached him directly to let him know how I feel, but I didn’t trust my tongue. I was afraid I’d just let loose and cuss him out and that would have simply been counterproductive. So, I’ve kept my distance, been professional and counted down to his last day. I just couldn’t bring myself to put on a happy face for a staff lunch in his honor, while it’s remained unsaid that his departure is leaving us in a lurch. Right before lunch commenced, I grabbed my bag and headed out to run a few errands in preparation for this weekend’s show. No harm, no foul.

I’m sure my recent disposition hasn’t been helped because it’s like the 10th consecutive day of dark clouds and intermittent rain showers and thunderstorms. I’m aware of how I’m sometimes affected by limited exposure to sun light. We had a bit more sunlight today and it looks like the weekend may bring even more, so I’m hoping my spirits will get a lift.

One thing that did lift my spirits this week is my newest cupcake creation. I've decided to call it my “Matisse Cupcake.” I caught glimpse of this scrumptious little devil over at 37 Paddington. It’s a vanilla cupcake with each layer a different color. Olivia used her talents as a visual artist to create an outstanding color palette. Below is a delicious recipe I found over at Enjoy!

Mango Mama's Matisse Cupcakes

2-1/2 cups AP flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1-1/2 cup sugar

12 tbsp (1-1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature

2 large egg + 2 egg white, room temperature

2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk (I used a ½ cup of milk and ½ pf buttermilk)
food coloring: red, orange, yellow, green, purple (I used Wilton’s coloring gel)
 garnish (skittles, peeps, sprinkles)

buttercream frosting (favorite recipe or canned)
[NOTES: You could substitute a white cake mix for the cupcake recipe too.]

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, fitted with flat beater, beat the sugar and butter until well combined, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs and egg whites, one at a time, beating on low.
Then add vanilla.
Gradually add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk in 2 additions, ending with the flour mixture.

Divide the batter into 5 different bowls.
Add food coloring per bowl and mix to combine until you get the vibrant color you want.
Add batter color by color, about 1 tbsp of each color until all the colors fill the cupcake liner about 1/2-2/3 full.

Bake for about 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

Friday, May 1, 2009

They're on Their Way!

Great news… 10 Sidi Goma’s ensemble members were granted visas, so the tour can begin tomorrow in Boston. I’m emotionally exhausted, but so excited about their visit to the Bride next weekend. Thanks so much to everyone who sent us positive vibes!