It’s 6:30 in the morning, and I’m sitting at the first of many airport gates today.
You’d think Jason would be here with me, keeping me company with choral music and Candy Crush. But it’s just me…traveling solo to the southern reaches of South America.
Did I mention I’ll be gone for three and a half weeks? That’s the kicker.
You see, it’s one thing to depart on an exciting solo trip for a week or even 10 days, but almost a month? What was I thinking?!
I’ll tell you what I was thinking: how could I NOT? When your profession presents you with a once in a lifetime opportunity, how do you say no? When you’re asked to travel to Machu Picchu and to track the pumas and glaciers of Southern Patagonia — even if it means a lack of sleep and an inordinate amount of layovers — it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which”no” is an appropriate response.
That doesn’t mean I’m fully coping at the moment. Don’t get me wrong… the excitement right now greatly outweighs the worry. But I can’t seem to stop crying over the idea of leaving Jason for that long of a time, and I can’t help but find fear weaseling its way into my otherwise adventurous spirit.
I am afraid of flying. I am afraid of food-borne illness. I am afraid of horses [which I am supposedly riding on this trip]. I am afraid of seasickness. Heck, I am even afraid of my over-stuffed suitcase surviving the journey.
There’s so much to be afraid of, but the closer I get to being there, the less afraid I become. With every layover comes a new level of readiness.
I also realize that for every thing I am missing at home, there is something waiting for me to ease the pain. I may miss our pets already, but I am determined to make friends with some llamas in Peru. I may miss my own bed from time to time, but I’m actually staying in some of the most luxurious hotels on the continent. I may be missing the majority of Lent at our church, but I can’t think of anywhere more awe-inspiring and prayer-inducing than the Sacred Valley and Southern Patagonia. I may miss Jason’s cooking, but I’m also spending a full week in Lima, the food capital of South America. And I miss my husband terribly, but…
…yea, I don’t have a plus side to that one yet.
Nevertheless, it’s happening, and I can’t wait to share my adventures along the way. I doubt I will have time to write any blog posts during my travels, but I’m crossing my fingers Jason submits another pizza worthy post while I’m gone. If not, we’ll catch you again at Easter.
These lemon bars were one of the last things I made before leaving. We were faced with an assortment of ripe and ready lemons following our centennial celebrations in Texas, so we decided to put them to good use and make some lemon bars for the many choir concerts and friend gatherings populating our calendar. This particular recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen but modified based on input from a couple of lemon bar aficionados I call friends. The traditional lemon bar will have a strong one-third to two-thirds ratio of crust to lemon filling, but for those who prefer proportions closer to half to half [like Jason], feel free to reduce the lemon filling ingredients by one-third to achieve.
- 1 c. [2 sticks] butter, room temperature
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 tsp. lemon zest [optional]
- 2 c. flour
- Large pinch of salt
Lemon Topping Ingredients
- 6 eggs, room temperature
- 2-1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 2 Tbs lemon zest [should take approximately 4 to 6 lemons]
- 1 c. lemon juice
- 1 c. flour
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
- Prepare the crust by creaming the butter, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Combine the flour and salt and add slowly to the butter until just incorporated.
- Gather the dough into a ball and flatten on a well-floured surface. Press the dough into a greased 9 x 13 x 2 inching baking pan, creating an even layer on the bottom. Chill at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to350°F when you are prepared to bake the crust. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Leave the oven on while you prepare the lemon filling.
- For the lemon filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour evenly on top of the crust and bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes.
- Let cool to room temperature before cutting into triangles or rectangles. Dust with powdered sugar and serve!