I’ve been playing the viola for seven years. I’ve never considered myself “good”, perhaps just decent enough to be in my school’s orchestra. Throughout the years I’ve fluctuated between 1st through 4th chair (in a section of eleven to thirteen), and between the tenth and eleventh grade I took weekly lessons. The lessons stopped the second year, however, for two reasons. It became very expensive to keep up, my teacher must have been able to buy himself a boat with all the money he was making off of students. Second, I practiced even less having a teacher. Playing the viola became more of a chore than a hobby, and that isn’t how I wanted it to end. I wanted to enjoy playing for myself.
Late November I decided to sign up for District Solo & Ensemble, which is where a single person or group can play a piece before a judge and are rated on a scale of 1-5, one being the highest. If you receive a 1, you are invited to states.
My problem? Procrastination. A friend gave me a solo piece that didn’t require an accompanist, but when he asked a week before S&E how it was coming along- well, it hadn’t. The date had snuck up on me. Mentally, I had already given up, but my friend wouldn’t allow it. He cracked down on me and every day of that week would
make help me work on the piece.
I’ll admit that the Saturday of S&E was a bit nerve wracking. Being judged on skill has never been one of my favorite parts of playing an instrument. My mother however, gave me some amazing advice. While in the warm up room, she told me- “There’s no point in you being nervous, it’s not like this is your career choice and your score will make or break your future. You’re just doing it for fun.” And it all just clicked.
I ended up receiving a 1, which was both exciting and a relief. My teacher also called me into her office the following Monday and told her I had won the third spot in the senior solo for the spring concert, in which I replied, “I never signed up for a spot as a solo.”
It’s strange how things that you don’t think will work out at all, end up turning for the better. While I did check the recipe for these bars seven or so times before adding the ingredients, I’ll admit it was an overall fun experience. Towards the end when I took them out of the oven, I thought I was going to have to throw the batch away, as they looked as if they were cooked too much on the ends and not the middle. But as they cooled they proved me wrong, and edible they were. I was hoping for the filling to be twice as high as the crust, but obviously it didn’t work out that way. They smelled absolutely amazing though, a fresh, clean smell that’s a nice change when it’s 17 degrees outside. The bars had the consistency of cheesecake, but were much richer. That didn’t stop my brother from shoveling them down, though. They were gone in a matter of days.
Key Lime Pie Bars
From KitchenAid Baking Companion
Makes 24 bars
- 1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham crackers (about 10 to 12 crackers)
- 4 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 5 tablespoons melted butter
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed Key lime juice
- 1 tablespoon grated lime peel
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 13×9-inch baking pan; set aside
2. Combine graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and flour in large bowl. Add melted butter to cracker mixture in 2 parts, stirring until mixture is thoroughly moist and crumbly
3. Reserve 1/4 cup crumbs to top bars, if desired. Press crust evenly into bottom of pan and bake 15 minutes; set aside.
4. Place cream cheese and granulated sugar in bowl of electric stand mixer. Beat at medium-low speed until smooth and creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add lime juice and lime peel. Mix until just combined.
5. Pour filling over warm crust. Bake in center of oven 15 to 20 minutes or until filling is set and begins to separate from side of pan.
6. Sprinkle reserved crust crumbs evenly over filling, if desired. Cool on wire rack 2 hours. Using a sharp knife, cut into 2-inch bars.