Lemon Bars Homecoming

There is something magical about Christmas mornings deeply rooted in my childhood. It wasn’t the gifts under the tree, or the sumptuous breakfast that Mommy prepared, but it was the one day of the year when Daddy was not fretting about work, I didn’t have to panic about homework, and Mommy didn’t have to rush to prepare packed lunches. We had time, for each other, time to be.

Naturally, Christmas was always very prayer and church-centred, so we dressed our finest to go to mass, in spite of having attended the midnight mass the night before. So I have memories of getting dressed in new clothes and we would all meet downstairs looking and feeling our finest. In addition, this was the time of the year when I always got assigned to set and decorate the table. The good dishes and crystals were used, and I had free hand on the additional frills, and was also allowed to raid the garden for it.

To this day, I take great pleasure in decorating the table for any occasion, not just for Christmas, taking the time and effort to set the atmosphere that will make all the difference. I was raised with the belief that people gather around the table to share of themselves, not just a meal, so treat the table and each gathering around it as a celebration. Having flip-flopped the furniture the other day, the new dining corner has turned out to be incredibly cosy for these Christmas days, and the cats are delighted as well. In spite of all the cooking, I am not stressed at all. There are three of us who work very well together, and more importantly, adore eating just as much as we like to cook, so it is a good team.

Having my two Asian children here, I have gone out of my way to make Asian breakfasts, or to be more specific, non-German ones, knowing how homesick they have been for this type of food. Let’s face it, Asians and rice are inseparable. This morning, while my “children” were still asleep, the cats and I prepared the table and got another round of unGerman breakfast ready, I decided to whip up a batch of lemon squares, as a follow-up to the snickerdoodles from yesterday. These little squares have also been absent from my kitchen for many years, and it is high time that they returned to the hearth.

I took an unexpected gap year between High School and College and decided to earn some money through baking and handicrafts. Lemon squares were the only item where the ingredients were dirt cheap and you could make a 200% profit from the final product. Business was booming in no time, and my mother’s kitchen was in a constant mess, much to her chagrin. Many years later I taught my housekeeper in India how to make the bars with the local limes and she churned them on a regular basis with gusto. So after 20+ years, the lemon bars have come home.

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