Blog Envy

I’m just going to cop to it:  I experience major blog envy. Mine has gotten prettier as I’ve gained confidence with WordPress, but by and large, there are some things I’d like to do better.

I love blogs like Smitten Kitchen, ones with gorgeous close-up photos of recipes as they’re being carried out. Not only is it beautiful, but the recipes that Smitten Kitchen shares are fantastic. They empowered me to make cheese. And it was awesome.

I’m pleased when I find blogs like a recent one from The Pioneer Woman. She forgot to photograph some of the steps. I do that all the time! I think it must take a lot of discipline and practice to remember to photograph the steps, let alone to make them pretty. I take so many bad pictures of food as I try to stage it in pretty ways.

But when I think about it, it’s probably better, this insistence on photographing real food in real time. Everyone’s heard the stories of how artists manipulate “food” to look like delicious food for photographic shots. I’m always psyched to see photos of the food in my reviews because I know it was real food, not mashed potatoes posing as ice cream (or whatever other tricks they have up their sleeves). I recently read an article that compared the sizes of actual fast food to the advertised size. There are a lot of these reality vs advertisement pages/blogs/articles out there, for understandable reasons, but this particular article breaks down the photographic methodology, ensuring careful sampling and recording of data.

Anyway. Tangent.

I made lemon bars this weekend for my girlfriend’s board at work today. A board, for those like me who are new to Navy speak, is like an exam. Or a thesis defense, in the world of Dana.

And as it happens, I made these lemon bars after I passed my thesis defense, to thank my committee members for reading my stories and providing such thorough, thoughtful feedback in my defense. And also to thank them for being merciful.

Southern Living runs a column called Your Way or Your Mama’s Way, and the lemon bars were one of the first selections covered. “Your Way” is certainly not my way, but it’s supposed to be:  for the modern gal who’s concerned about calories and efficiency. Your Mama’s Way is actually my way. There are two sticks of butter, and (count ’em!) two cups of sugar in this recipe. They’re outstanding. And I’m happy to say that my girl passed her board.

And as I was making these lemon bars, I tried my hand at taking pretty bloggy pictures of the creation. Some are better than others. It’s a work in progress.

From the side: lemon bars.

Luscious lemon bars

(from southern living magazine)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup cold butter, cut into pieces

4 large eggs

2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 13×9 inch pan with heavy duty aluminum foil or parchment paper, allowing 2 or 3 inches to extend over the sides of the pan. Lightly grease foil.

2. Stir together 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Press mixture onto bottom of prepared pan.

3. Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Fancy lemon three-ways shot. With knife blade.

4. Meanwhile, whisk eggs in a large bowl until smooth; whisk in granulated sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Stir together baking powder and remaining 1/4 cup flour; whisk into egg mixture. Pour mixture over hot baked crust.

The sugar on the edges of the mound is already soaking up that lemony mixture. Yummmmm.

5. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until filling is set. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 30 minutes. Lift from pan, using foil sides as handles. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 30 minutes). Remove foil, and cut into bars; sprinkle with powdered sugar.

The not-so-pretty side that actually looks pretty delicious.

2 thoughts on “Blog Envy

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