Apricot Almond Shortbread Bars: When the now becomes more important than the future.

When I normally look at Children, I spend time thinking and planning all the different things I’m going to do, say, teach, train them to do so that they can become some sort of figment-of-my-imagination-super human being in some distant future.  I evaluate, plan, and consider old activities, new activities, and still newer challenges and opportunities I’d like them to have.  The task and goal is to see their future, and move them onto the path that  they are supposed to be on.
This means that I don’t spend a lot of time appreciating where they are, right now, in the moment.  I take a moment to evaluate where they are and then think about where they need to be, but I never see how far they’ve come.  I never look back and think about their progress, their growth, or their amazingness right now.
However, over the past 10 days, due to some choices Husband and I have to make about the future, I’ve been forced to study, evaluate, and appreciate where Children are right now.  And I’m blown away.  This is not about praising Husband and my parenting skills, or what phenomenal programs we’ve managed to find for Children to make them great.  This is simply about them.  Their character.  Their personality.  Their motivation.  Their resolve.  Their resilience.  Their joy. Their curiosity.  Their intelligence.  Their spark.  Their childhood. 
It’s been a bit of a heart wrenching and soul searching time for me trying to make some choices, but it’s at the same time been a huge blessing to me to think about Children and to thank God for making them who they are.  Special.  Perfect.  Wonderful.  Mine. 
I had all three Children home today, and although there were crazy moments of crankiness, and a moment of extreme frustration as I discovered the stove top was broken, I tried to spend more time appreciating them in the “right now” instead of thinking only of the “what do they have to do.”  Together we made some of these yummy simple treats, and Daughters passed them out to their piano teachers.

Apricot Almond Shortbread Bars
(adapted from Ina Garten’s Foolproof)
Makes 9×13 pan, about 16 to 20 bars, depending on how you cut them

2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ⅓ cups flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
12 to 15 ounces good apricot jam
1 cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment or in a bowl where you will use your hand mixer.  Mix on medium speed until just combined.  With mixer on low, add vanilla.

Sift flour and salt together and, with the mixer on low, slowly add to the butter mixture, mixing until it almost comes together in a ball.

Lightly pat 2/3 of the dough evenly on the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan (Ina Garten uses a 9 inch square pan)  Spread the jam on top of dough, leaving ¼ inch border.

Mix almonds into remaining dough with your hands.  Crumble and mix together into small bits and distribute on top of jam, covering most of surface.  Bake bars for 45 minutes, or lightly browned.

Cool completely and cut into 16 to 20 bars.

Printable recipe

Another something to savor and appreciate – just the way it is at this moment.

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