I’m not sure how it took me 31 years to recognize the day we drive back from the beach as a major yearly landmark in my life, but the day we drive back from the beach is a major landmark in my year.
It signifies the end of summer.
And dear readers, if you are not ready to read that in a month that fully belongs to my favorite season, then please click elsewhere, and know you have my full support.
But when I was little, the day we drove back from the beach was the day we got our mail that had been held for weeks. It was the day I sorted through to see if I had any postcards from friends. And the day I found out who my teacher would be the next year. This inevitably led to phone calls with SCL to see who her teacher was (shocker–the school made the mistake of putting us together once, and never again). And that inevitably led to back to school supply shopping.
And now that I’m on the other side of the desk, the day we drive home from the beach means the return to work and a whole host of other responsibilities. It means the return of to-do lists. Swoon.
And I will also tell you that after 31 years, I can appreciate that cycle. Being at the beach is the most relaxing time in my year, every year, and being there as long as we are allows me to return to real life fully recharged. The drive is just the perfect amount of time to help me transition from vacation mode back to life.
Let’s stop over-thinking the end of summer and make key lime pie instead. When I saw the recipe, these were advertised as key lime bars, but you know what? It’s key lime* pie, except sometimes you’re in a beach kitchen where you have no pie plates and so you’ll take the recipe that uses an 8×8 pan even if that does mean you’re making key lime pie/bars.
Doesn’t it look like this is frowning? Ugh, I can’t get over it, but it’s the only picture I took.
To make key lime bars, you will need:
For the crust:
- 5 oz. animal crackers, crushed
- 2 T brown sugar
- 4 T butter, melted and cooled
For the filling:
- 2 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1.5 T lime zest
- 1/2 C lime juice (5 or 6 limes)
- pinch of salt
- 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 egg yolk (oops, I stopped paying attention and put in the whole egg)
Preheat the oven to 325, and grease an 8×8 inch square pan.
Combine crust ingredients and press into the bottom of the pan. Bake till deep golden brown, 18-20 minutes. While that happens, mix all filling ingredients till smooth. It may take a couple of minutes to get any lumps out of the cream cheese. Pour filling in crust and bake 15-20 minutes. If the edges are starting to pull away from the pan, you’ll know you’re done.
Let pan cool to room temperature, and then chill in the fridge at least 2 hours.
Slice and serve.
*The recipe doesn’t call for key limes, so this is technically just lime pie. But I hate squeezing key limes because they’re so small, so let’s just pretend and not tell anyone.