Boeing 747 and Lemon Bars

What do Boeing 747 and Lemon Bars have in common? Not much really besides how I spent my Friday morning and afternoon.

I had the amazing opportunity this morning to go to the NASA-AMES Research Center in Mountain View, California. My boyfriend’s company contracts for NASA so he has an official NASA badge and we were able to go around in some of the restricted areas. We were mostly in the Crew Vehicle Systems Research Facility. The most important and awesome part of the day was when I piloted a Boeing 747 simulator in one of their labs. One of Andrew’s co-workers, Matt, helped me pilot the plane around the San Francisco Bay area. The map in the simulator has amazing fidelity; I could see both the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, Golden Gate Park, Half Moon Bay, Oakland, and the 280 Freeway in the Silicon Valley. I thought I did a pretty poor job and Matt had to take over the controls a couple times, plus he did all the work with the throttles, but both Matt and Andrew said I did a decent job for it being my first time piloting. It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had ever.

After piloting the simulator, Andrew and Matt took me to meet Wayne who demonstrated the virtual 360 degree control tower that they are building for an imaginary airport. They simulated planes landing, taxing, and departing along with changing the weather patterns, the location of the tower, and the path of the airplanes. The amount of thought and details that go into air traffic control is just incredible. I had no idea how complicated the flight patterns were or how much detail you have to pay attention to.

Finally, Andrew showed me the project that he has been working on. His project takes place across three different lab rooms in their section of NASA. One room is for the controllers, one room is for the pilots, and another room is for the computer engineers, which is what Andrew does. He showed me how his program works on the controller and pilot end of things. He showed me how to do a couple simple switchovers. I enjoyed seeing what he does with his life for most of the day, especially after being together for nearly two years.

I’m incredibly lucky to have someone so intelligent, innovative, and sweet to share my life with, plus I got to fly a freaking Boeing 747 simulator!

I even got a neat badge:

You’re not allowed to smile in these pictures. That’s why I look like I’m going to kill everyone.

After a lunch at Hunan Chili in downtown Mountain View, which I thought was rather mediocre Chinese food, but the boyfriend liked it and it was rather cheap for how much food you got, I came home and discussed with my friend Maddy our ideas about vending at the San Francisco Underground Market. Something we most definitely want to do are lemon bars since they’re a favorite of mine and most of the time I do a pretty job good making them.

This time around I used a recipe from Food Network since I was not that impressed by the recipe in the Mark Bittman book. I found his recipe made too much filling and it took too long to cook creating a weird, crispy brown layer around the filling which was rather gelatinous instead of creamy.

Ugh. My pan looks so dirty. 

Classic Lemon Bars Courtesy of Food Network

For the Crust:

  • Vegetable oil, for greasing
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Filling:

  • 4 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 8 lemons)

1. Mix the crust ingredients together in the food processor. This will give you a very loose crumb. You will be tempted to add more butter. Do not add more butter. It’s not necessary. All you need to do is pack it very well into the pan. If it cracks a little oh well, you can cry about that some other time. It shouldn’t crack. Mine didn’t crack and if it did I wouldn’t cry about it. Lemon bar babies.

2. You should have heated your oven to 350 degrees. I forgot to tell you that. You should do that while you’re mixing your ingredients together in the food processor. Now their recipe says something about a 9 by 13 inch pan. Now, that’s great and all if you have that size pan, but I don’t. I split my crust between two different sized spring form pans. My crust came out uneven. I had a terrible two’s sized meltdown about this later. There was crockery being thrown across my minute kitchen, people lost limbs due to this. You put the crust/s in the oven for twenty-five minutes or take it out when you smell burning, which is what I did. You want to let these cool before you add the lemon liquid mixture or there will be nuclear fall out.

3. Mix together your filling ingredients. You need to use a whisk for this. If this were a Martha Stewart recipe she would probably tell you to use a wooden spoon, but it’s not so use a whisk. Your filling will be very liquid-y (that’s not a word by the way), but don’t worry about it. Unless you’re me and you’re using a spring form pan that doesn’t close all the way and the filling starts leaking all over your pristine stove-top and you have to transfer the pans to cookie sheets and the pans end up sticking to the cookie sheets. Yeah, I messed up all over the place with this recipe, but it still turned out good. Bake for about thirty minutes or until the filling is set (meaning it doesn’t jiggle like your thighs will).

The filling for these was delicious. I only used about a 1 cup and a 1/4 of sugar and not the two cups and it came out wonderfully tart. I wasn’t overly impressed by the crust on this and I think I will use the crust from the Mark Bittman recipe next time and the filling from this one. The filling was tart, creamy, and just oh-so good.

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