I know I said that sometimes you need to settle in and let the hard times wash over you like waves. And that’s true. You need to do this the most when you’ve been running like a hamster in a wheel, trying by virtue of your own power to get somewhere.

Other times, though — those times when you’re exhausted and overwrought — it’s okay to build a boat.

Not a canoe. I’m talkin’ a big, sturdy boat. And it’s okay to get in that boat and put on some headphones. And a blindfold. It’s okay to sing at the top of your lungs, to willfully drown out the sight, sound, and persistent pressure of the waves until you forget they exist altogether. We both know that someday you have to get out and face the ocean. But it doesn’t have to be today.

I recently asked you on Facebook to help me build a boat and distract myself from the waves. We shared funny stories on a hard day, and oh dear, you are a witty bunch! I thought I’d share my own funny story in more detail here, in case you need a distraction today. I present to you The Tale of The Wayward Underwear.

(Did I just lose my sponsors? Oh well. Anyway…)

Back in college, I had a sweet apartment above my professor’s garage (hi, Dr. Peroni). It didn’t have a full kitchen, but I hadn’t really started baking yet anyway. I made chili in my electric skillet, hot dogs in my microwave, and that was all I needed. That and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on television. And my blue couch from Goodwill, which had no back legs and thus reclined. Awesome.

The washer and dryer downstairs was icing on the cake. I did laundry about once a week, but was usually too busy to bother putting the clean clothes away. Instead, I grabbed things straight from the dryer and threw them on before class.

One day I was late to my American Lit class and I did just that. I absentmindedly tugged on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt before hopping on my bike and pedaling furiously to my class. I made it in time, slid into my seat, and adroitly navigated the discussion of a text I hadn’t actually had time to read (ah, college). Everything seemed fine . . . until I began the ride back to my apartment.

About halfway there, I noticed something lying in the middle of the sidewalk. As I approached the object, it started to look familiar. Too familiar. Unacceptably familiar. I stopped a few feet away and stared at it, aghast.

There, lying in the middle of the sidewalk of one of the busiest streets in Davidson, was a pair of my underwear.

I know it’s traumatic. Just try to think of lemon raspberry squares.

My brain could not process the visual information it was receiving. Instead, it was cycling through myriad half-formed thoughts: Wha–? How in the world–?

I finally pieced together that my underwear must have been clinging to my jeans when I grabbed them out of the dryer. The fact that they fell off in the middle of the sidewalk was bad enough, but it was nothing compared to the realization that they might not have fallen off — that I might’ve worn them straight into class!

Just to make sure you have a clear picture in your brain, these were not my nice, normal underwear. They were my cute underwear, with little purple trim all over them. And they were lying about 100 feet from a college campus. This situation had no doubt been conjuring up images of drunken debauchery in passersby’s minds for the past hour while I’d sat in class, blissfully unaware.

And if there’s anything I was not, it was drunken, debauched, or scandalous in any way. I was as straight-laced as a new sneaker.

Standing there, staring at this pair of underwear on the sidewalk for way too long to seem inconspicuous, I tried to get a handle on my racing thoughts. However improbable, the idea that someone could link this undergarment to me and misunderstand how it arrived on the sidewalk made me flush with embarrassment.

Also, what was I supposed to do about this situation? I began to debate: could I possibly pick them up? They were some of my favorite underwear, after all. But if anyone saw me picking up a pair of underwear off the flippin’ street and taking them home, what would they think? Could I possibly leave them there? And let more people see them? And who would eventually have to pick them up?! I almost died.

After several minutes of standing with my mouth agape, I finally got myself together and rode home — without my wayward underwear. They were gone the next day and I don’t ever, ever want to know where they went or how they got there.

If you’re in need of even more fun after that humiliating tale, don’t worry. I have another distraction for you: Lemon Raspberry Squares. Think of your typical gorgeous, sweet-tart lemon squares on a buttery shortbread crust. Now mentally slather a layer of raspberry jam right down the middle. Now eat about 50 of them.

See? All better.

What’s your favorite way to get your mind off of troubles?

One year ago: Soft Sugar Cookies
Two years ago: Secret Garden Craft: Simple Luncheon Napkins

Lemon Raspberry Squares

Recipe by: Slightly adapted from Heather Christo Cooks
Yield: 12-15 bars

This is a dessert for folks who have a sweet-tooth! They’re sweet, buttery, tart, and downright delicious. They taste like sunshine.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
raspberry jam (I think I used about a cup — just eyeball enough for a thin layer), room temperature

Note: You want your jam at room temperature here because in regular lemon squares, the lemon mixture is poured onto a hot crust. If you pour it onto cold jam instead, it takes longer for the middle to cook (don’t ask me how I know this.) I think having the jam at room temperature will help the whole dish cook more evenly.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. You could also place parchment paper in the dish to form a sling if you’d rather — this will make the bars easier to remove.

Pulse the flour, powdered sugar, and salt together in a food processor to combine. Add the cold butter chunks and pulse about 10-12 times until you have the texture of coarse sand (you can also use a pastry cutter or two knives to accomplish this if you don’t have a food processor). Pour this mixture into the prepared dish and use a spatula or the bottom of a glass to press it down into an even layer. Bake it for about 15 minutes or until it’s lightly browned.

While it’s baking, stick a spoon in your jam so it’s ready to spread on quickly. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until fluffy before adding sugar while whisking constantly (if you stop whisking here, the sugar will “cook” the eggs, and you don’t want that!) Once the sugar and eggs are combined, add in the flour and the lemon juice, continuing to whisk. Spread the jam in a thin layer over the entire hot crust. Then pour the lemon mixture over the jam.

Stick the entire dish back into the oven and bake 15-25 minutes (this is such a wide range because the temperature of my jam might’ve made my baking time longer — it took my bars around 25 minutes to get pretty set.) Start checking at 15 minutes by giving the pan a little jiggle. The lemon mixture should be about set (slight jiggle only) and a light golden brown. If it starts to get too dark before it’s set, cover the pan with foil as it finishes baking.

When the bars are done, remove the dish to a cooling rack to cool completely before cutting (if you don’t cool them completely, I’m betting they’ll be runny, so be patient!) Use a sharp knife to cut the bars and serve them. You can sprinkle powdered sugar from a sifter over the top for decoration, but the bars are very sweet already, so go easy!

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29 Comments on Lemon Raspberry Squares

  1. Shari B
    July 10, 2012 at 11:38 pm (10 years ago)

    Oh my goodness that is just the story I needed today. Thanks for a good laugh and a delicious recipe.

  2. Carol
    July 10, 2012 at 11:42 pm (10 years ago)

    I was laughing out loud as I read this post! That is so funny! Thanks for that and for the recipe. It looks amazing. It’s on my list. = )

  3. Sharla
    July 10, 2012 at 11:50 pm (10 years ago)

    I am embarrassed to even post this, but the same thing happened to me…except I found the wayward underwear beside my office chair…that sits DIRECTLY ACROSS from my boss’ always open door and next to the wonderful lady I share an office with!!!!!!! HUMILIATING! But also hilarious.

  4. Megan
    July 10, 2012 at 11:56 pm (10 years ago)

    I’m glad someone else has stories like those in their closet! Thanks for sharing maybe one day I’ll share a story about one of my wardrobe malfunctions 🙂

  5. Dianna @ The Kitchen Prep
    July 11, 2012 at 1:47 am (10 years ago)

    Just think: those undies may have wound up the prized “trophy” of a fledgling frat boy. {I’m thinking along the lines of Sixteen Candles, except without your permission.} An inadvertent act of kindness, if you will. Regardless, I’m glad you survived the humiliation. Otherwise, we may never have gotten the fabulous recipe for these Lemon Raspberry Squares. 🙂

  6. DessertForTwo
    July 11, 2012 at 2:43 am (10 years ago)

    Oh Julie, you’ve been on my mind lately with your troubles. I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but I wish it would get better soon. If it were me, I would throw myself into baking the most difficult thing I could think of. I would challenge myself in the kitchen, connect with friends over coffee and watch lots of funny movies 🙂

  7. Lauren at Keep It Sweet
    July 11, 2012 at 10:49 am (10 years ago)

    That is a great story – at least you didn’t ride the whole way with underwear attached to your leg:-)

    And I completely would have left them there, too!

  8. Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe
    July 11, 2012 at 5:14 pm (10 years ago)

    Great story Julie. I hope these troubles of yours skedaddle real soon! In the meantime, eating many of these delicious lemon raspberry bars sounds like a great distraction! Hugs to you.

  9. Sasha @ The Procrastobaker
    July 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm (10 years ago)

    I loved this story, its one of those..that could never actually happen to me stories, but they do! Its what makes life interesting though hey! Lovely bake as well, looks darn scrummy 🙂

  10. Jenny @ BAKE
    July 11, 2012 at 6:47 pm (10 years ago)

    Great story! I’m definitely helped building my boat! these squares look incredible! they’re my favourite flavours and they look stunningly colourful!

  11. natalie@thesweetslife
    July 12, 2012 at 2:01 am (10 years ago)

    i love this story-, mostly because it’s something that would happen to me (in fact i have my own embarrassing underwear story that needs to be told sometime :))

  12. DB-The Foodie Stuntman
    July 12, 2012 at 6:29 am (10 years ago)

    I think we all have those stories originating from college life. I certainly do. Thank you for your entertaining story and congratulations on making the foodbuzz Top 9!

  13. Becky
    July 12, 2012 at 11:08 am (10 years ago)

    These bars are pure genius! I make lemon squares and I make raspberry bars, but never thought to combine the two. My hubby will love these.! thanks foe sharing your underwear story!

  14. Madison
    July 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm (10 years ago)

    I have had some wayward underwear in my day as well! I adore lemon bars, but am now sure that the raspberry will turn my world upside down. I can’t wait to make them for friends!

  15. Geraldine Saucier
    July 12, 2012 at 2:02 pm (10 years ago)

    These Lemon Raspberry Squares look delicious. I love the raspberry lemon combination. Can’t wait to make these bars:) Thanks for the great post!

  16. Melaina@BackdoorKitchen.blogspot.com
    July 13, 2012 at 1:44 am (10 years ago)

    This seems so obvious but yes thank you for reminding us that we can have our cake and eat it too(raspberries and lemons) You have a lot of self control, the entire snack would be devoured after one shot! Gorgeous shots!


  17. Stephie @ Eat Your Heart Out
    July 13, 2012 at 2:34 am (10 years ago)

    Hahaha! Oh college…

    I’m cursing myself for only having 2 eggs and zero lemons in the house right now (clearly I need to go shopping) because otherwise I would be in the kitchen RIGHT THIS SECOND making these.

  18. Jenni
    July 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm (10 years ago)

    HAHAHAHAHAHA Oh that is so terrible and so funny at the same time! 🙂

  19. nipponnin
    July 14, 2012 at 4:25 pm (10 years ago)

    Ha ha ha ha! It’s a cute post and looks delicious! My daughter (Little foodies) just went back to Hawaii and I have time to window Foodbuzzing. I had great time visiting your site. Congratulations on top 9!

  20. Lisa
    July 14, 2012 at 11:38 pm (10 years ago)

    Those bars look fantastic! I simply MUST bake them to find out if they taste that way, too. 🙂 (After converting to a gluten-free version, of course.) I am also thinking about using the blueberry jam I just made and subbing lime juice for the lemon… hmmm…

  21. Mom
    July 15, 2012 at 10:29 pm (10 years ago)

    Oh.My.Goodness! I can’t make a smily face because THAT key doesn’t work on my computer. 🙁 I CAN make that one… I am glad I didn’t know all my kids were going through in college! I worried enough! Love you and hope you are floating in sunshine INSTEAD of in a boat, real soon!

  22. Mollie
    July 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm (10 years ago)

    These look amazing. Do you think using a raspberry puree, rather than jam, might cut down on the sweetness? Or would it make things too soggy?

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      July 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm (10 years ago)

      That’s a great idea, Mollie! I say try it. You might try reducing the puree to a jam-like consistency on the stove to ward sogginess away.

  23. Sarah
    August 1, 2012 at 6:57 pm (10 years ago)

    I love your writing and this story cracks me up. I have a similar one. This one is somewhat (ok, totally) embarassing and something that I could not bring myself to post on my blog. So I’ll post it on yours, haha.
    Our stories are very similar…there were clothes in the dryer, that were pulled out when needed, naturally. Except that my story involves my boyfriend’s cargo shorts. Which just so happen to have velcro on the side pocket. You can probably guess where this story goes. Yes, MY (white) underwear were hanging from the velcro of his (also white) shorts. Conveniently camoflauged.
    I still laugh hysterically everytime I think of this.
    By the way, this recipe!? Holy moly, yum!

  24. Kayleigh
    August 8, 2012 at 10:57 am (10 years ago)

    These look amazing. And great story. I know a similar one. 😉


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