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Welcome to FoodMood blog space. Reflections on my travels, musings, favorite recipes, and the  Bunny Chronicles. Storytelling with joy, sass, self-reflection, and hope.

Dreaming of Sicily - Mom's lemon bars

Left Monreale Cathedral from Angela Lanza; right Mom’s lemon bars.

Where food, culture, travel, and magic all come together. Listening to my Mom wax on about her lemon bars while on lockdown at the end of March, I found myself in Sicily. Already on my mind, as THE destination this year. Sometime in 2019 I realized that I have been living in and around Italy for more than a decade and still not been to Sicily. Celebrating my 50th in September 2020, I made a vow to usher in my 5th decade in Sicily. While the fate of this adventure is still to be seen, my dreams are at full activation. For me these lemon bars were a sign.

As has been said many times here on Food Speaks, my mom is an amazing baker. All the women in my family are good cooks with their own specialties. Several Food Speaks posts are inspired or even directly from them. Some have asked, including my mother, if I am at odds with these sweet treats given their (her) image of me as a healthy eater. As learned from a wise teacher, I am not a slave to any image of me, and in fact love to sample my mom’s confections.

From the perspective of a Nutritional Therapist, one of my mother’s homemade with love lemon squares with a cup of tea or coffee is a wonderful pleasure. A chance to experience her expression of love in a bite. Sharing her recipe for anisette cookies I said something quite similar, that the emotional benefit of a few of these cookies so lovingly prepared on the rare occasions I am home far outweigh any negative concerns.

It is the energy one infuses into the food being prepared, and the energy one holds in their intentions when eating that make the difference in how food is received by the body. Even the best quality, organic food, can lose its intrinsic value if it is prepared and or eaten in a state of agitation or lack of appreciation. With private clients and in seminars alike, one of the things we always speak about is the state in which we prepare and eat our food. For me, it goes even to my state when shopping for the food. Some would say, and be right, that the state of the person raising, picking, packing, and delivering the food is equally important. Those people would be right and as I am not always able to control those states, I take extra care to be conscious of what I can manage, my own state of mind.

So, if you want to join me in Sicily, right from your own kitchen – read what my mom has to say about them, check out the recipe, get your ingredients, make the bars, and away we go.

Mom’s story about her lemon bars.

The smell of a lemon! Clean, fresh, fragrant. Living in Florida I was fortunate to have citrus trees in my backyard. We had them all, oranges, lemons, limes and pink grapefruits. Of all my trees, I favored most the lemons. Then, Florida had a severe cases of citrus greening and we lost all of those marvelous trees. Despite our loss, I still favor the lemon. Often, I buy them by the case just to have them in the refrigerator. This way, when the urge strikes me, I can make a lemon cake, cookies or scones.

The first time I used this recipe, I had never made lemon bars before. They look so delicate in the bakery and I thought they would be difficult to make. Always interested in new recipes and in general baking ideas, from cookbooks and online sources, one day I came across this “easy” to make lemon bar recipe. “Why not give them a go?” I thought.

As I gathered the ingredients for my new venture, I chuckled to myself. “Oyyiiii! What would my nutritional therapist daughter say about all the sugar in here? She would probably tell me I was trying to put myself in a diabetic coma!” I made them anyway.

So glad I did! From the first bite of the crunchy crust married with the the tart/sweet lemon filling, I was hooked. Immediately shared them with my family and friends who also thought they were the best they had ever tasted. Voila, I had found another go-to dessert for my library.

Click here for the recipe along with some helpful hints/tips from what I learned making them a few times. Fruire!

Mom and her finished bars.

Photos of the process, each step full of love and joy. Top left the lemons themselves; top right the mixing of the batter; bottom left the batter in the fully covered in aluminium foil pan; bottom right the bars themselves.

Next, to Sicily! Top left seaside port just outside the city of Palermo in a village called Mondello; bottom left Islamic style cathedral in Palermo; right Greek temple in Agrigento. Photos compliments of Angela Lanza.

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