Guess what I just did? For the first time in weeks, maybe even months, I sat down and made a proper shopping list for our weekly grocery shopping trip tomorrow. Back in the day when I was eating healthily, I only went to the grocery store once a week. I planned the meals for every day of the weak and on Friday evening after work I headed off to tick off all those things on my shopping list. And then carried a huge backpack and two bags full of food the whole 40 minute walk home. That experience has made me appreciate having a personal chauffeur and grocery carrier with me on my shopping trips these days. Makes things much easier. Said person also wants to pick out the biggest chicken to roast, and the biggest carrots and parsnips to go with the roast. Guys are so funny sometimes.
But more importantly, creating a shopping list means life is starting to get back into the routines I love so much. I know I'm a really boring person, but I need stability in my life. And even though all the changes in my life have been really positive, I have noticed I have been incredibly stressed about it all. But now life slowly seems to settle down. The biggest things that have made me nervous are all behind. The new job is not a complete disaster. I'm still adapting and learning so much new things each day, and it's tough, but for the most part I enjoy it very much. And the whole thing with the new house has again moved a nudge in the right direction. I'm starting to adapt to living in a mancave, and have learned to accept that there is no way I will be able to clean this house to the standard I would like. But living here will only be temporary. Trying to find a way around and between all the boxes is getting more tolerable as there is almost an end in sight. Walking home from work the other day I was suddenly feeling incredibly calm and happy, something I can't remember feeling for such a long time. About six months ago, before there was a new job or house in sight, I remember thinking I really wish the next phase in my life would be something I could entitle "the calm years" in my hypothetical autobiography. And I realise saying it will probably mean there will be a major disaster looming somewhere around the corner, but for now I feel like life is good. And I think I will finally be able to make a little bit of time for cooking and blogging again.
So, on a Friday night, what do you do when you have a craving for something sweet, half a cup of buttermilk in the fridge and two lemons? Google "lemon buttermilk" of course. And after sifting through the hits, you will end up with the perfect recipe, requiring only ingredients you have at home avoiding the tedious business of having to actually put your shoes on and walk all the way across the street to the grocery store (I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts, as there will be no grocery shop in sight once we move). Anyhows, even better if the whole recipe can be made using only one bowl and an electric mixer. The recipe is from Williams-Sonoma and I have modified it only slightly.
Lemon and buttermilk bars (serves 8):
85g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup (60 ml) plus 2/3 cup (160 ml) granulated sugar
2/3 (160 ml) cup plus 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
finely grated zest from two lemons
1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh lemon juice (I used two lemons worth)
1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk
Icing sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/gas mark 4. Using an electric mixer whip butter and 1/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour and salt, and mix on low speed. Press onto the bottom of a buttered pan (8 in (20 cm) square, I didn't have one so I used a 20 cm round one, and ended up with a little bit of filling left over). Bake the crust for 15-18 minutes.
While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. Grate the lemons and squeeze the juice out of them. Using the electric mixer, whip together the eggs and 2/3 cups of sugar. Add zest, lemon juice, buttermilk and mix until smooth. Pour onto the crust and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the filling has set. Let cool, dust with icing sugar and cut into squares of sections.
I haven't been baking very much lately, not only because most of my kitchen stuff is packed away in boxes and the bachelor pad kitchen lacks the most basic kitchen necessities, but also because the bachelor pad oven is a nightmare. I just can't bake anything in it without burning it. It's an oven which has a mind of it's own, and I'm pretty sure the inside temperature doesn't correlate in any way with what it says on the dial. Last week I baked a rather disastrous rhubarb and strawberry cake (but it turned out super delicious. I used this recipe here but added strawberries, and you can see the picture here). The cake was burned on the top (i.e. the bottom of the cake) and not baked all the way through. It was eaten nonetheless, and it was delicious and moist, but not presentable in any way. This time I decided I won't take any chances, so after the cake had been baking for the time stated in the recipe, but the filling was still jiggly, I covered it with foil to avoid it from getting too dark. I assume using a regular oven keeping to the right temperature, you won't need to extend the baking time. But the main point is, finally I managed to bake something without burning it in the oven from hell!
I absolutely loved this tart. Or bars if you prefer to call them that. It's like a lemon meringue pie without the meringue so it's much quicker and easier to make. It's very sweet though, so this is only for the true carboholics. The flavour of the lemon comes through very nicely, and the crust caramelises around the edges of the pie tin. I absolutely love that all you need is one bowl and an electric mixer, the dough for the crust will come out of the bowl cleanly, so you can just continue making the filling in the same bowl. Minimum dishes, minimum time needed in the kitchen and maximum yummy flavour.