Tag Archives: lemon

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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Lemon Bars

The sunshine has turned to rain and we are finally back to winter here in the San Francisco Bay Area after two weeks of weather in the low seventies. I made these lemon bars last weekend when the sun was shining and I actually wanted to venture into my backyard to get a lemon. I wasn’t sure if I was going to post these because the end result photos ended up turning out bad, but I liked the recipe so much and they tasted delicious I figured I should share the goodness with everyone.

I love lemon flavored desserts. I used to make them quite often when I worked for a family that had a lemon orchard. Now,  I don’t make desserts too often because I don’t live in a house with five other people to eat them. I do, however, have a bunch of lemon trees in my backyard that are filled with fruit. We were having guests over and I thought that lemon bars would be a nice addition to the buffalo chili and cornbread that we would be serving for dinner. I’m sorry I didn’t get any pictures on the buffalo chili because it turned out amazing.

These lemon bars were pretty easy to make, but mine did not turn out that super electric yellow like the ones you get at the store, or like the last time I made them. I’m not sure if it is because of the recipe or because I used raw sugar instead of granulated white sugar, which I never use anymore. I was eating them for days afterward, trying to limit myself to one a day.

Penne “Risotto” with Garlic and Green Beans

Yesterday I worked until six and had to drive back home over Highway 17. It was around seven when I got home in Santa Clara and I was exhausted, sweaty, and hungry. I did not want to cook. However, Andrew was waiting for me to make dinner and I had planned what I was going to make already. I made a penne pasta dish with green beans in a garlic lemon sauce.

I used the same technique that I used for the Israeli couscous risotto that I made the other day. This time around I used the multi-grain, gluten free pasta that Andrew had in the cupboard. The rest of our pasta is whole wheat and I can’t stand whole wheat pasta. I find the texture of whole wheat pasta to be tough and gritty. The result of the dish was a creamy, tender pasta with a well balanced sauce and crisp green beans (crisp=undercooked in this case :)). Andrew was impressed with how quick it was to make and how easy. I could tell he was a little lukewarm on how the sauce came out creamy.

Penne Risotto with Garlic and Green Beans

  • multi-grain, gluten free penne pasta
  • two tablespoons minced garlic
  • large handful of green beans
  • salt, pepper, and onion powder
  • vegetable broth
  • lemon juice

1. Prep your green beans by washing them, trimming the vine end off, and chopping them into small, equal sizes.

2. Heat a skillet with olive oil on medium high. Add garlic and pasta. Toast the pasta and brown the garlic. Looking back I would also add the green beans at this point. Add a small amount of vegetable broth and stir until liquid thickens, bubbles, and reduces. Then add more liquid and continue this process until the pasta is cooked.

Cupcake Rage

This is another pictureless post. After the success of the grapefruit cake on Wednesday, I wanted to make another citrus flavored dessert. I chose to make two kinds of cupcakes: lemon cupcakes and lemon coconut cupcakes  both with lemon buttercream frosting, shredded coconut, and fresh berries.  I was baking these to celebrate my friend Katie being accepted into grad school at University of Edinborough.

The lemon cupcakes tasted good to me, but they were a bit heavy and dense. Andrew really didn’t like the way they tasted, but I think that’s just his unnatural abhorrence of buttery flavored things. He could also have been tasting the powdered egg replacement and it might have trigged something in his palate that it doesn’t do to me. I didn’t get around to tasting the lemon coconut cupcakes, but they looked fluffier (I doubled the amount of baking powder I put in).

I was satisfied with the cupcakes. If they were dense oh well, I can blame that on them being vegan. I started on the lemon “butter”cream frosting. I had noticed earlier the weird separation thing that Smart Balance does with lemon juice and I was worried about it in my frosting. This is exactly what happened, I had these strange floating butter bits after I added the lemon juice. Even if I added more powdered sugar it didn’t really change the weird bits or the runny texture. Still, I forged on, not willing to give up yet. I tasted the frosting: it tasted fine. I put it on a cupcake with some berries and tasted it…not what I wanted. The combination of one delicious thing (the berries) with two things that were okay: made me really ANGRY.

I threw them all into the waste basket. I was pissed. Why can’t I ever make frosting? I have never made a succesful buttercream frosting vegan or otherwise.

Lemon Dijon Chicken

Yesterday I made Martha’s favorite vinaigrette from one of my Martha Stewart cookbooks. I love Martha Stewart. Seeing her on Top Chef made me realize what an awesome bitch she is.

Ingredients (with some variation)

  • 1/4 lemon juice (two small lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 vegetable oil

Mix lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper together. Pour into a jar. Pour vegetable oil (or olive oil if you have it, I don’t) and shake in the jar. I put half a pound of boneless, skinless organic chicken breast tenders in this to marinate overnight.

Tonight I cooked the chicken breast tenders in a skillet on medium high heat. Before putting them on the stove top I poured out a good portion of the oil. While they were cooking, I added pepper, dill, and parsley. It turned out a little salty and greasy.  The chicken would go nicely with some pasta (linguine, paparadelle, spaghetti) or rice. I wasn’t that hungry tonight so I skipped on the carbohydrates and just ate the chicken.

A Cookie Recipe

I love to bake.  While baking is a lot more exact than other kinds of cooking, I still try to find room to experiment. I tried out this recipe for New Years Eve and found it to be a great success. The original recipe was taken from the Martha Stewart Living Cookbook.

Ginger Lemon Almond Cookies

Ingredients

  • 8 tbsp.  (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. superfine sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/4 cup blanched sliced almonds

Procedure

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. with two racks centered. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add the egg; mix on high to combine. Add the zest; mix to combine.

2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking soda, salt, crystallized ginger, and almonds. Add to the butter mixture; mix on low speed to combine.

3. Drop about two teaspoons of dough on cookie sheet, spacing each cookie about three inches apart. Place a piece of crystallized ginger and slivered almond on the top of each cookie. Bake for seven minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for another five to seven minutes.