Sunday, September 13, 2009

LiveSTRONG with a taste of lemon

I was very happy to see that Barbara is hosting the LiveSTRONG with a Taste of Yellow event again this year.  I participated last year, and very much enjoyed reading all the posts from everyone else who joined in to support the fight against cancer.

As I tried to decide what to write for this post, one thing in particular was on my mind.  Regular readers of my blog (and my baking friends on Twitter) will remember that my husband Jamie had his tonsils out back in June.  What I didn't talk about much at the time was the unexpected effect that his surgery had on me.  We've been together for 12 years, and that was the first time he ever had anything medical come up (aside from the usual colds, allergies etc).  I wasn't at all ready for the near-panic attack that hit me.

My first husband, Nate, died of cancer on January 22, 1996.  Over thirteen years ago.  And as I sat in the hospital, waiting for Jamie's surgery to be done, it felt like it was yesterday.  This was a totally different situation, and part of me understood that.  But another part of me remembered what it was like to sit in a hospital and feel totally helpless in the face of a terrible disease that was destroying someone I loved.  Cancer is so hard on the people who have it.  But it's also incredibly hard on the caregivers who know that there is only so much they can do to help.  The ones who go to the doctor appointments and wait through the tests and treatments.  The ones who help their loved ones do all the daily things that they can't do for themselves.  The ones who get annoyed sometimes and just want everything to be normal again and then feel guilty for feeling that way.  The ones who are strong because they have to be, but who cry in the shower because sometimes they can only let their feelings out when they are alone.  This post is dedicated to all those people...

For this year's event, I decided to make lemon bars.  This recipe is special to me because it's based on one that Nate got from his mom.  Luscious, very tart filling on top of a shortbread crust.  This time I decided to play around with the crust.  For something just a little different, I went with Dorie Greenspan's Sweet Tart Crust.  The filling I left alone, since it's fabulous as is.

Lemon Bars
(adapted from Laverne Morrison and Dorie Greenspan)

1 recipe Sweet Tart Dough

3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1 1/8 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (4 oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice

powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Press the tart dough evenly into an 8" square pan (I use a Pyrex pan).  Prick the dough all over with a fork.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the dough is just starting to color around the edges.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling.  In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together.  Whisk in the flour, then whisk in the lemon juice.  When the crust is ready, remove the pan from the oven.  Pour the filling over the hot crust and return the pan to the oven.  Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, until most of the filling is set.  There may be a small section in the middle that is still slightly jiggly.  That's okay, since the bars continue to cook for a bit after being removed from the oven.  Remove the pan from the oven and place on a rack.  Let cool completely.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Be sure to check out the round-up on Barbara's blog.  She'll have it up on LiveSTRONG Day, October 2nd.  And to learn more about how you can join the fight against cancer, visit the Lance Armstrong Foundation.


  1. What a touching story and beautiful lemon bars....they look so tasty.

  2. What a moving post...yep, I cried. You wrote a lovely tribute and a lovely plea for those living with cancer, those that have it and those that have to deal with it as you did. Your bars look fantastic. Good thing I am not there or you wouldn't have that many of my favorites and they are LEMON!

  3. Di thank you for putting those feelings into words. They are so true. I know my husband goes through those emotions. You just made me appreciate him even more.

    Thank you for sharing and for your contribution. The lemon bars look delicious.

  4. Lovely, and I have no doubt so hard to write. It's amazing how many people are touched by cancer, and as hard as it is, I think we need these stories as much as those of survival. There's still work to be done, and that needs to be remembered. Remembering through something as gorgeous as those lemon bars makes it a little easier, I think.

  5. Di, thanks for sharing your story. It gives the "fight against cancer" a human face and voice. When cancer strikes it's like a ripple effect, and loved ones and caregivers are right there in the center rings. Your sentence about crying in the shower has made me cry half a dozen times this evening. It's such a difficult struggle. I can see how such an intense experience could trigger flashbacks for you. You chose a lovely way to remember Nate, and I know you'll be giving Jamie an extra squeeze!

  6. This was a beautiful post, Di. I am truly moved by your words.

  7. I have tears in my eyes as I write this - no doubt you have had your share of them as well. A well-told, thoughtful story.

  8. What a wonderful family has been touched by cancer too and I appreciate these words so much....

  9. What a great post and tribute. I got chills and teary eyed reading it. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Di, you are incredible for sharing your story with us. It made me cry. I know it had to be hard to write. And thank you for spreading the word about this great cause. Your lemon bars are beautiful, and all the more so because they come from Nate's family recipe.

  11. As everyone else has said, the lemon bars are lovely, but the post was even lovelier. My mom is both a cancer surivor and has had the role of primary caregiver to people with cancer and Alzheimers. I value the reminder of what it's like for her every day. Both Nate and Jamie are fortunate to have you in their lives.