Fruit bars. Anddddd forgiveness.
I’ll start with the second F word.
Forgiveness is an easy word, the concept not so much anymore. It literally means the pardoning of one’s offense and of the offender. When I was a kid in Catholic school, I used to laugh and roll my eyes at the concept because it just seemed so simple. As a kid forgiveness is easy, most of the time because our emotions are fleeting and our troubles are far less complicated. This, coupled with our desire to be forgiven with a sense of immediacy causes us to easily forgive those who have upset or hurt us.
Fast forward to now…adulthood. Most of us still want forgiveness with immediacy, but rarely are we willing to hand it out. Forgiveness sounds as great and simple as it did when we were kids, until we are the ones who have to forgive something. This could be forgiving of others or forgiving of ourselves. Both can be hard for us grown ups.
This is something I have struggled with, especially lately. And I need to just get on board. Period.
Holding on to things that you cannot forgive is like sticking yourself with a needle and expecting someone else to cry out in pain. It simply doesn’t work and even if someone else is crying, chances are you are still crying too because it really isn’t what you want.
It is far better to forgive them, and forgive yourself just the same. You can’t change your reaction to a situation when it is passed. It is in the past, and you reacted the best you could, be it the right reaction, or the absolute worst way you could have handled yourself. You did what you did, they did what they did, and everyone has to decide what they can live with, regardless of what they really deserve.
We are too hard on others and much too hard on ourselves. And if none of this helps you…remember one thing…almost always you can be assured the one you want stuck with the needle, will get a knife somewhere, someday, and even though they put on their public happy face to the world, you know…and you can smile at that shit.
Now…how do I turn this into something about food…well, I’ll start by saying that instead of sticking myself with a needle, I am going to stuff myself with these simple and gorgeous bars. And these delicious bars came too, out of forgiveness. Forgiving myself for being a shitty cookie maker. I have about five cookies I can actually make fantastically. I need to accept this, but for some reason I can’t, and I made some chocolate chip cookies filled with homemade caramel. I really should have taken a picture to actually show you the atrocity I created, but I couldn’t, because I was crying too hard to get the camera. They were that bad and I was afraid I had lost it. Lost my passion and if that was the case I should just go to bed forever. All I could think when I stared at these sad, smeared, greasy, under cooked flattened disks that looked like I threw up in the their centers, was that I forgotten what I love doing and I would never get it back.
There are two things I love, baking and working out, and baking will always trump working out (don’t tell my trainer), and I can’t even make a f–king cookie. Time for bed!
So I threw them all away and went to bed. Easy enough. Or was it…turns out it wasn’t so easy, and I got back up and went to the kitchen and decided I had to forgive. Forgive that I can’t make cookies, and realize what I can do…so I made these delicious, simple, seasonal fruit bars, and immediately I ate half the pan warm with ice cream. Then I went to bed (and called my personal trainer first thing in the morning to get in to a lifting class).
So, forgive yourself and forgive others, and eat the shit out of something delicious, and made by you.
Berry-Rhubarb bars (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
one cup old fashioned rolled oats
¾ cup plus two tablespoons of flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
six tablespoons melted unsalted butter (if using salted butter use about a third of the salt above)
fresh lemon juice
a teaspoon of lemon zest
1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
¾ cup small diced rhubarb
¾ cup small sliced strawberries
¾ cup blueberries
Heat oven to 350.
Put oats, flour, brown sugar and salt into the bottom of an eight-inch baking pan and combine. Pour the melted butter over the flour mixture and stir together until well combined. Remove about ½ cup of this mixture and set aside. Press the rest of it firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan. Spread half of each of the berries and the rhubarb over the crust mixtures. Sprinkle with half the zest and a lil bit of lemon juice and top with half the granulated sugar. Then spread the remaining fruit over and sprinkle with remaining zest, a lil more lemon juice and the remaining sugar. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top of the fruit.
Bake for about 40-45 minutes until the fruit is bubbly and the crumb mixture is firm and golden.
I ate these this particular day warm topped with ice cream. However on normal days, I cool in the pan to room temperature or place in the fridge. Placing them in the fridge will result in a crispier bar.