This post was, by far, the most time-consuming post I have ever composed. In fact, I am fairly certain that it is the most time-consuming post in the history of the blogosphere. I meant to post yesterday but I couldn’t get it completed in time. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. The lighting was bad. I didn’t follow directions. The cream for my coffee was curdled. I could go on, but I will spare you all the ugly details.
I would feel marginally better if this post were about quantum physics or how to solve the HIV/AIDS pandemic but it is about pie. That’s it – pie. It’s really good pie, but it is just pie. You can decide if it was worth all the effort.
This recipe is from one of my best friends ever.
I have known Lisa since we were both fifteen. That is more than a few years ago, to put it mildly.
When I first met Lisa, she was like a human energy field. She was the quintessential beautiful blond California girl. Guys were drawn to her like moths to a flame. Girls wanted to be around her because, well, we wanted to be like her. She was cute and nice and fun and very funny. Fun and funny were vital to me when I was fifteen.
Plus, Lisa was loud.
That was very important too because I needed somebody that could match my decibel level. When we entered a room together, you knew we were there. Lisa and I were generally in the company of our good friends Tam or Laurie or some combination thereof. We were a force to be reckoned with.
Lisa and I were also really smart. Let me tell you how smart we were. Our youth group had a rent-a-kid auction where people in the church could rent some of the youth for the day, to do chores. The money raised was going toward our upcoming trip. Dennis, our youth pastor, was reading off the different chores available and mentioned the need for two people for “light housekeeping.” Lisa and I jumped up, eager to grab the easiest task on the list. “See you later suckas!” we yelled as we raced out the door.
We came to a bungalow on a tidy street and met a sweet little lady who escorted us into her spotless home. We grinned at each other, gloating over our good fortune. We figured we would be in and out of there in no time and tanning by the pool while everyone else was slaving away painting or hauling trash. She walked us into her living room and…there it was. A wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling collection of every kind of figurine, ornament and tchotchke ever created.
Our task for the day was to remove them all, one by one, dust them, dust the shelf and return them to their exact location. We slaved away for hours, carefully dusting and replacing every little nick nack. Needless to say, we were the last ones to arrive at the pool party and Lisa and I developed a terrible phobia of dusting.
A few years after we met, my cousin Steve came to live with us. He met Lisa and…kapow! Game over! He fell head over heels for this California girl. They’ve been married for quite some time now and have three gorgeous kids that (thankfully) take after Lisa. They are good-looking, sweet, smart and funny, just like their mom – okay, just a bit like their dad too.
Lisa is also a gracious hostess and a great cook. Whenever we get together for family events we beg her to bring dessert – either her trifle or this amazing, sweet and tart lemon meringue pie, made with lemons from her own backyard. I asked her to share the recipe and she kindly obliged. If you aren’t blessed with lemons growing in your backyard, you can buy them in your grocery store. This is, I promise, the best lemon pie you have ever tasted, from one of the sweetest (and smartest) people I know!
“A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.”
Proverbs 27:9 (MSG)
Lisa’s Lemon Meringue Pie
8 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp flour
1 3/4 c sugar
2 c boiling water
4 egg yolks beaten
2 lemon rinds grated
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c unstrained lemon juice
1. Combine the flour, corn starch and sugar.
2. Whisk in the water and sugar. I like the word whisk, say it again, “whisk”. I think it’s an onomatopoeia. – whisk. It sounds like what we’re doing, we’re whisking. Okay, I’m distracted, move along.
3. Stir until smooth. Is this an onomatopoeia too? Smooth. Another good word. I’m hung up on the sound of words today. Smooth. Say it with me. Smooooooth.
4. Cook until it thickens.
Okay, I ignored Lisa here. She said “Don’t bother with a double boiler, just do it directly on the stovetop.” But, I know better because I have baked this pie exactly 0 times and Lisa has baked this pie 974 times. Listen to Lisa and don’t use a double boiler.
5. Beat 4 egg yolks.
6. Temper the yolks with the hot mixture so the eggs don’t cook. Temper means put in a little itty bit so you don’t get cooked eggs. Just drizzle a little in. Stir, drizzle a little more, stir, drizzle, stir…you get the idea. Until it’s all mixed together.
7. Stir in the lemon rinds, butter, salt and lemon juice.
8. Keep stirring until smooth and thick. There’s that word again. Smoooth. That sounds like a 70’s word – bow-chicka-bow-wow – smoooth!
“until smooth and thick.” I have no idea exactly how long that will take because, again, I ignored Lisa’s advice and used a double boiler, so…it takes somewhere between 5 minutes and 5 hours. I’m really not sure. But the picture above shows the color and thickness before and the below picture shows the color and thickness after.
9. Pour into prepared crust.
You are welcome to get all Martha Stewart on me and bake your own crust. I just bought the freezer crust, popped that baby in the oven and- voila! Martha would freak!
Let me just say here – I just L-O-V-E meringue. Meringue is divine. It looks like little angel clouds.
5 egg whites
5 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (may substitute 1/4 tsp lemon juice)
pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2. Beat egg whites until stiff. It is best if they are at room temperature.
Beat these little puppies until they have peaks. Nice light peaks but not dry.
Don’t skimp on this part. You can use an electric mixer or, if you need to relieve some aggression, do it by hand and think about that guy that cut you off in traffic yesterday or the lady in line at Starbucks who couldn’t make up her flipping mind and pretend you’re beating the every-living daylights out of them. It’s way better than therapy.
3. Add sugar, cream of tartar and salt. Mix but do not over-beat. Now it should look nice and glossy.
Whoa! Okay, back off now. The beating part is over. If you still feel like beating something or someone you may need therapy. That’s okay. We all need it eventually.
4. Cover filled pie while warm but not hot.
5. Bake for 20 minutes at 300 degrees or until top is golden brown.
Do not, I repeat, do not walk away and go into the office chitty-chatting on Facebook for an hour and a half, uploading pictures and working on your blog until you hear the smoke alarm in your kitchen screeching, only to return to your smoke-filled kitchen where you find a burnt meringue, which you scrape off and replace with another meringue, leaving the pie tasting a little bit charred but edible nonetheless.
That would be stupid.
6. Allow to cool before cutting.
Dang! That looks good.
Or, if you are reckless and impatient like me, cut it the minute you are done and let the chips fall where they may!
If you have ever wondered what that expression means, “Let the chips fall where they may”, it means, if you cut into your pie before Lisa says you should, you will be eating lemon meringue soup instead of lemon meringue pie.
It was so good, we went back for seconds!
I learned a lot from this post.
1. I am not becoming a food blogger at any point in the foreseeable future.
2. I really hate being in the kitchen.
3. I am impatient and don’t follow directions well.
4. I’m glad I have a husband that cooks. I wish he liked to bake.
5. I love homemade pie.
6. I love people who bake me pie.
If you want a copy of this recipe, without all my inane chatter (it’s really good if you follow the directions) click on the link at the right……