tis the season or just one of those days…

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought,
doesn’t come from a store.
What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

Dr. Seuss


(sterilizing The Mayor’s things in the wake of her departure / Julie Cook / 2018)

Let’s face it…we all have those days when we feel like a giraffe with our heads
stuck in a pot of boiling water.

Perhaps you’ve never looked at it that way before, but admit it, it makes perfect sense.

Maybe you’re not exactly frazzled.
Maybe you’re not terribly overwhelmed.
Maybe you’re not running behind.
Maybe you’re not stressed.
Maybe you’re not tired.
Maybe you’re not a bit melancholy.
Maybe you’re not a bit stretched.
Maybe you’re not a bit depressed.
Maybe you’re not overly busy.
Maybe you’re not apprehensive or anxious.

Maybe you’re none of those…

Maybe it’s because you’re totally overflowing with the love and joy that has come to you
from this season…as in you’ve had one too many cups of the bourbon-laced eggnog
and now you’re delusional…
or you actually managed to grab a-hold of the true meaning of Advent and this Christmas to be.

Or if the truth is told…maybe… just maybe…
you’ll admit that you’re really feeling a few of those heavier things…
Actually, maybe, you’re feeling more than a few.
Maybe you’ll admit to the truth…
you’re feeling all of those and then some!

Hence a giraffe with its head stuck in a pot of boiling water.

So good, we are now on the same page.

I was tackling the laundry yesterday in the wake of The Mayor and her two closest aides
recent visit…

When I thought that I really wanted to cook some little something that seemed
holidayish and festive.

But time…
Where was the time?

Now I’ll happily tip my hat, any day of the week,
to all those women out there who have superpowers in that they
can work outside of the home, clean their house, wash all the clothes, run all
the errands, shuttle the kids, finish the presentations and reports,
cook festive holiday goodies, complete all the shopping, decorating and wrapping
while still making time to go to the gym, write greeting cards, read a book, and post
the latest decorative things they’ve accomplished to Pinterest or Instagram.

And if your name is not Martha Stewert, you probably haven’t done half of those things,
let alone two or simply even one to the utmost of your ability.
And no fair if you have a maid, a nanny, or a small army of assistants following you around.

I actually do think that I was once able to accomplish much more when I was a
younger woman who was working outside of the house while tending to all things of the house
and raising a husband and a child.

I have no idea as to what has happened except that I simply got old.

But by George, I was determined to make something festive today if it killed me.

Every winter, I have to haul the citrus trees, that I keep in large pots
outside throughout the late Spring to early Fall, to the basement when freezing
temperatures arrive.

One tree that I’ve had now for many years has gotten so big,
that I was left with no choice other than to sacrifice it…
I can no longer move it, even with the hand trucks,
so it will be the guinea pig.

As the question remains, can a citrus tree survive a winter in Georgia?
I’ll let you know.

But the Meyer lemon tree that is now happily safe and sound in the basement,
is loaded with ripening lemons. It’s not looking too good as they don’t like
an abrupt change in climate but the looming question…
what am I to do now with all those lemons??

I opted for a tried and true southern favorite recipe…something that makes me always think
of my mom…
That being lemon squares.

Not the most festive perhaps but they are relatively easy and certainly tasty.

And as I do tend to gravitate to the melancholy this time of year as I find myself
missing those who are now no longer present in my small world…
mother’s lemon squares were calling.

Mother wasn’t known for her cooking or baking prowess, but those things she did
manage to succeed with while being in the kitchen are now treasured.

So the lemons squares it would be….

But where was her recipe…


(just one small pile of old cards and notes)

It’s amazing how over the years I’ve amassed such a plethora of old, spotted and stained
envelopes, note cards, papers, and even old receipts all covered with the scribblings
both of myself, family and friends.
A myriad of recipes which have been meant to be tried, tested and savored…
and yet with the advent of all things internet…it’s almost too easy to click
a button rather than dig through the drawers, books, and cabinets seeking that one
lost recipe.

Finally, I found what I had written down from my mom’s recipe…
but as to where her original handwritten card currently rests eludes me…
but this would have to do. Yet I had already moved to a different recipe as I couldn’t
find this one in time.

So as this is the time of year for gifts and gift giving…and since I use to share a lot more
about cooking and recipes when I first started this thing called a blog—
here is a copy of mother’s recipe along with the one I mismashed for today’s
Lemon’s squares…

Merry Christmas!!


(mother’s recipe)

Ingredients:
For the base:
1 stick of softened unsalted butter
2 cups sifted flour (I like King Arthur’s unbleached)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
For the filling:
4 eggs lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
the juice from 4 lemons (1/3 cup but I actually used just shy of a 1/2 cup)
grated lemon peel from the four lemons you’ll juice
(grate them whole before cutting and juicing)
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
(it is a nice rounding out of the often harshness of fresh lemon juice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a 9×13 pan—I spray baker’s joy on the bottom and then line the bottom with
parchment paper that I cut to fit. I then spray the parchment paper
(you can use butter and flour if you prefer)

Set the prepared pan aside.

In a mixing bowl sift the 2 cups of flour and the 1/2 cup confectioners sugar—
using a pastry blender, cut in the softened stick of butter until the mixture looks
like grainy sand—and holds together when handling.

Press this mixture down into your prepared baking dish.

Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes until lightly
browned and puffed.

Cool while you prepare the filling.

In a bowl stir in 1 1/2 cups sugar, the grated lemon peel, a dash of salt,
1/4 cup of flour add the lemon juice, extract and then the beaten eggs until all
is incorporated.

Pop in the oven and cook an additional 25 minutes.

The filling will puff and might slightly brown just a tad.

When it’s finished baking, remove the pan and place it on a cooling rack,
allowing the pan to cool down.

(here is where some suggest putting the pan in the fridge to cool for at least two
hours but I just let it rest on the counter)

When cool—I dust the top with powered sugar—
I use a small mesh sieve that I shake over the pan
which adds a nice light dusting.

Next I use a bench scraper to cut the bars or you can use a knife

So before you’re hung up to dry, have yourself a merry little lemon square…

and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no guest room available for them.

Luke 2:7

Mise en place

“Decorate your home. It gives the illusion that your life is more interesting than it really is.” Charles M. Schulz

DSCN7198
(one batch of the boxes of fall decorations / Julie Cook / 2014)

Is that what all this is about? Ill fated attempts at making our lives, our homes, more interesting than they are??

Actually this is more of a tale about a boat load of crap, uh, I mean, gourds, pumpkins, colorful leaves, acorns, straw, nuts, etc. . .anything and everything to do with Fall, Autumn, the season of Harvest. . . or whatever you may wish to call the 3rd season of the calendar.

I like to call it my favorite time of year–and no, that is not Christmas as Christmas is just another word for consumerism chaos but that’s for another day.

The Thermometer is currently registering 90ᵒ–it’s not yet noon. The news is telling me it feels more like 96ᵒ as our high today will be 95ᵒ, meaning it will feel like 110ᵒ –give or take–but I’m sure it will be more like give, with the humidity ringing in around 87% currently–higher later–ugh—-and whereas this is Labor day weekend, Summer’s grand final hoorah, I, for one, choose to look ahead—as to something, say, a little more comfortable and inviting. As in I don’t wish to remain naked when venturing out of doors because I am tired of my clothes sticking to my body —picture flies stuck to fly tape and that’s me with my clothes.

Nothing is flattering about this time of year. Hair, no matter how hard a woman may attempt taming her coiffure–and trust me, I try awfully damn hard–digressing, it will either wilt, explode with puffiness or revert back to its natural wavy state the minute it is introduced to the out of doors.
Humidity + hair = disaster.
And of course any and all freshly applied makeup will soon be oozing down a sweaty oh I forgot, we women of the South do not sweat—we glisten— glisteny faces which are responding to the 87% humidity.

A friend of mine in Texas, sweet Natalie, replying to a blog post, told me how she sings daily praises to the man whoever invented air-conditioning. I must second that praise. Which brings me to an interesting observation— the Italians do not like air-conditioning. They fear it produces “bad air” which equates to respiratory maladies—things like the croop, pneumonia, Legionnaire’s Disease. . . you name it and they think it will pour out of an air conditioning unit waiting to strike down any and all, exposed to such air, with immediate illness and death.

The Italians are fretful when it comes to health. They take great precautions to stay well. So this is why, if you ever go on Holiday to Italy say in July or August. . . why you would do this I am uncertain as anyone can tell you that these are the two months you do not wish to visit Italy as the entire country shuts down and heads to the shore or high up in the alps seeking respite form the heat and the malaria (I’m telling you, über health conscious). . .I know this as I have made such a fatal mistake, but again, I digress. . .you will suddenly go into apoplexy upon entering your hotel room, say in Rome, when you find your windows wide open with nary a breeze and nary an AC unit in sight and it’s 100ᵒ out with 97% humidity.

Which brings me full circle back around to my picture of all of the Fall crap, uh, decorations sitting in the middle of the floor on a soon to be 98ᵒ day.
Rather than venturing outside today to enjoy the sun soaked (hot as hell day) Labor Day weekend, I’m preferring to say inside like anyone with any sense. . .yet my husband is currently attempting to plow his deer land on a hot tractor in the middle of nowhere in 102ᵒ, which in my opinion is asinine, but again I digress. . .I am opting to decorate my house with a more Fall-like theme—of which I am hoping will have a psychological effect, making me feel much cooler than I am in my tank top, shorts and bare feet. Surely twig pumpkins, fake squirrels, dried nuts, a bunch of gourds and colorful faux leaves will make me feel cooler, almost chilly, right??

Which brings my thoughts, as I schlepp this crap , these boxes of decorations down from the 150ᵒ inferno, aka attic and up the steps from the dungeon, aka, basement, as to why it is, why in the heck, do we, I, feel the need to decorate, seasonally, in the first place?! It must go back to some paganesque ancient druid need hiding in our / my roots. Lest we forget, I am indeed adopted and as I fear, there must some druids hiding in my background someplace—and no offense to any druids currently reading this —I’m just saying.

Perhaps it is our consumer driven economy and lifestyle. . .
The stores are, as I type, filling their shelves with boxes of fake colorful leaves, fallesque wreathes, cute fake little squirrels, dried gourds, indian corn, acorns, dried straws and sticks that we buy by the boat loads in order to “decorate” our homes and even workplaces—we set the mood so to speak. In my case, the mood to cool!!

And let’s not talk about how next month we will be riding the Halloween bandwagon. What was once a fun little excuse for young children to dress-up, going door to door trick or treating for candy has morphed into a really scary time which calls on us to lock up our cats–lest some cult out there decides to have a little sacrifice session, as we scan and have our children’s candy bags x-rayed at local hospitals for any signs of sickos who sadisticly and maliciously may have put razor blades in apples or cyanid in Reeses cups, to those who protest trick or treat all together because it is no longer politically correct as all the witches and satanist out there take offense (no offense witches and satanists), or the fundamentalists who fear it will turn our children literally into withes and satanists, which has all actually lead to this little “holiday” being the largest and biggest sales event excuse out there for adults to throw a party—hence why that diva of domesticity, who will remain nameless as I don’t want to get sued, is set to sell a myriad of magazines giving her, at the ripe old age of 73, an excuse to dress up in elaborate costume hawking her blood red punch and eyeball deviled egg recipes. . .yes, we’ve lost our collective minds. . .

Which brings me back to the boat load of crap , decorations sitting on the floor and of my having to now “put away” Summer, making way for Fall. . .and could someone please remind me as to why I waste, spend my time doing this. . .

Oh yeah, that’s right, because it’s 103ᵒ outside in the shade and I want to psyche myself into thinking I’m feeling cooler, much cooler—like Fall cooler—not that the Fall cool temperatures will arrive here, before, say Thanksgiving. . .which means it’ll just be time to schlepp out all the turkey and Thanksgiving crap decorations down from the attic and up from the basement. . .as the never ending saga of decorations and decorating, putting crap in its place, never ends. . .