All Those Stories

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Listened from the family cabin where we’d gathered for the weekend, a good number of us, and there was rain most all the time we were together and it was a bit chilly in the night. Instead of swimming and basking in the sun and making S’mores and taking long long walks as the sun set, we spent a good deal of time playing Scrabble and watching old movies and we did manage a boat ride, but mostly we cooked and ate and sat around together talking and telling stories. All kinds of stories about when we were kids and fishing stories and stories about funny things we’ve done when we’re alone and family stories and dream stories about what we wish for and what might be. It’s been that way, when we all get together. All those stories.

Makes me think of that poem in Shel Silverstein’s book, Where the Sidewalk Ends:

If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

Mr. Silverstein is no longer with us, but this poem has been in my head since I first read it as a child, and will be until I’m no longer around, either. I like it because it gives a nod to what happens when people tell stories. Dreams are shared. Wishes and lies, and hopes are revealed, and prayers and magic and pretend. Truths get told and confessions are made, and in story after story the world falls away.

It was a lovely time there in the cabin, all of us sprawled about in the light of the fire. There’s just not a whole lot of time to do that, to sit around with your people and talk awhile. And if there is, we don’t often take it unless we’re on a long bus ride to the Black Hills or trapped in an elevator or at a wedding reception or a family reunion or a wake. Sure, we have coffee together, but there’s always something to interrupt or get us moving to the next place, and time passes, and those stories rest in our minds until we gather again. Sure they do. Close your eyes and there they are, those flax-golden tales, waiting to be spun.

Here’s a recipe for bars about as summery as you’ll find. Strawberries and lemonade, all done up in a pan for you to share with the people whose stories you know best. Or those whose stories you might wish to hear. A pan of bars does that, you know. Gets people talkin’. And you can sit back and listen. And eat. And then it will be your turn.

Strawberry Lemonade Bars

1¾ cup flour
¼ cup cornstarch
⅔ cup powdered sugar
½ T salt
2 sticks cold butter (cut into small cubes)
Non-stick spray
4 eggs, beaten
1⅓ cup sugar
3 T flour
1⅓ cup strawberries
2 T lemon zest
⅔ cup lemon juice
⅓ cup milk
1 T powdered sugar to top, optional

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, powdered sugar, salt, and cold cubed butter. Using two forks, combine butter with the dry ingredients. Line a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper and coat with a non-stick spray. Pour the mixture into the pan and pack it down firmly, and up about ½ inch on the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for half an hour, then bake for 20-25 minutes or until it’s a light golden brown. Let it cool while you prepare the filling and reduce the oven temperature to 325˚F. In another large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, and flour. And, using a blender, combine strawberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, and milk.

Pour the blended mixture into the egg mixture and stir well. Pour the filling over the partially baked crust and immediately put the pan into the oven.

Bake at 325˚F for 45 minutes, or until it doesn’t jiggle when you shake the pan. Allow to cool for 30-45 minutes and remove from pan. Cut into 24 even squares and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Makes two dozen bars.



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