Saturday, April 29, 2017

Making Lemonade (or Rhubarb Custard Bars)

Dressed in my pajamas and an early morning sleepy stupor, I wasn’t the most aware Mommy. I suppose I knew the two preschoolers weren’t happy with each other, but their argument hadn’t yet penetrated my mental fog. It’s possible I might have mumbled out of habit a half-hearted, “No fighting, kids,” but I didn’t pay attention until 3-year-old Peter asked a big question.

“Mommy, is I the boss?”

I focused my brain and guessed that his older sister had just told him otherwise. I tried to break the news to him in a gentle voice.

“No, Peter, you are not the boss.”

He was completely unconvinced.

“Yes, I is! I is the boss!” he insisted.

Poor kid. Life’s lessons are not easy to learn. I’m still trying to figure it all out. I want things to turn out a certain way, but then I can’t make it happen no matter how long I plan or how many lists I make. What then?

Well, today my daughter attacked a cardboard box and a couple of toilet paper tubes with scissors, tape, and her vision of creating a car, complete with a steering mechanism, for her little brother to drive around the house. She worked on it all day long.

By evening, after several different designs failed, she realized the truth: those toilet paper tube wheels simply could not provide the support the car needed. 

What did she do? Well, she cried out her broken heart. Then she came up with another design-- a cardboard box car powered by the driver’s feet instead of wheels. She accepted reality and made lemonade out of her lemon car.

So when life throws a wrench in your plans, remember who’s the boss. Here’s a hint: it’s not you. Some things are simply beyond your control. But you can choose to salvage the broken pieces of your dream and shape them into something even better and more beautiful than the original.

Everybody knows that when life hands you lemons, you should make lemonade, but what do you do when a friend hands you bags full of rhubarb? I suggest trying this recipe for Rhubarb Custard Bars. My daddy made them for Easter, and they were delicious. His special tip was to keep the butter cold or the crust will turn out too hard.

Rhubarb Custard Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup cold butter

2 cups sugar
7 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 large eggs, beaten
5 cups finely chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb (thawed and drained)

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped

In a bowl, combine the 2 cups flour and 1/4 cup sugar; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into a greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Bake at 350℉ for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the filling, combine sugar and flour in a bowl. Whisk in cream and eggs. Stir in the rhubarb. Pour over crust. Bake at 350℉ for 40-45 minutes until custard is set. Cool.

For the topping, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth; fold in whipped cream. Spread over the top. Cover and chill. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 3 dozen.

*This column ran in The Hancock News on April 26, 2017.

**This post was shared at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth for The Art of Home-Making Monday.

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