What do you do when life hands you a whole bag of lemons? (Really, this is not some thinly veiled metaphor for bad days, horrible dates or other woes, it is truly about an excess of lemons). You bake.
When it hands you the metaphorical sort, you stop, gather up some friends and look towards your center.
The second city is my center. My happy refuge. Home.
You see, Chicago is a magic sort of place. The air here is always humming with energy to a bluesy tune. Moving forward at a pace just this side of hectic.
Summer in this city is special. I fill my weekends with neighborhood festivals and nights just a little too late on a friend’s patio. And it is the time of year when you can gather up some friends and head to the park for a concert.
You have to make sure that you come armed with wine, plastic cups and munchies (like the blondies at the bottom of this post – they travel well). And maybe some SPF 80 to keep your pale skin safe from the setting sun.
You’ve gotta roll with the rhythm of the season.
Chicago has quite the rhythm.
I gathered up some new friends (the metaphorical lemonade from last year’s life-lemons), and dragged them out to play on a school night. We listened while my friend Pete and his band played music that hung on the breeze. We giggled while catching up on the unending exploits from lives that fall somewhere on the spectrum of bonkers and ridiculous.
There was talk of boys and work. New beginnings and broken hearts. And most importantly, shoes.
If I can give you some life advice, it would be to talk about shoes with the girls you don’t know when at a spy-themed birthday party for the guy you are sort of seeing and don’t know any of his friends. While it will probably never work with you and that dude (he will dump you over a pair of shoes), you might just find someone you can talk into splitting a bottle of wine with while soaking up a concert in the park.
That is some excellent metaphorical lemonade.
Now back to that bag of actual lemons. Since you have leftovers hanging out from the bag of lemons you bought to make gluten-free lemon raspberry cupcakes, you need to make something that is equal parts lemon and summer delight.
Enter some chewy lemon bars dotted with crystallized ginger. Oh yes, I think that you will win the next party you bring these to (and yes, there is such a thing as winning a party and these will help you do exactly that)
- 210 grams (1 1/2 cups) gluten-free all-purpose flour*
- 1/4 tsp xantham gum**
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 stick (4oz / 113g) butter, softened300 g (1 1/2 cups) sugar
- 1/4 cup fresh (60 mL) lemon juice
- 3 eggs
- 3 tbsp lemon zest
- 75 g (1/2 cup) ginger chips (chopped crystalized ginger)
- Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 Celsius).
- Grease & flour a 9×13″ pan.
- Whisk together the gluten-free flour, xantham gum (if using), salt and baking powder.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy.
- Scrape down the sides and add the lemon juice and one egg. Beat until combined. Scrape down the sides and add 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and eggs until you have incorporated all of it.
- Scrape down the sides and stir in the lemon zest and ginger chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Let cool. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.