Friday, February 25, 2011

Lemon Meringue Pie for the masses

Maybe not exactly the masses, but hungry square dancers.  A week ago a square dancer gave me a bag of lemons for the promise that I'd bring back a lemon meringue pie yesterday.  It was an easy promise to make.  Then yesterday the promise came due.  I realized that I hadn't made lemon meringue pie for many, many years.  I mean a lot of years. 

I poured over my favorite three cookbooks:  Betty Crocker (1950), Better Homes & Gardens (1953), and a newer Pink edition of Better Homes & Gardens (2006).  I value each of them.  I received the Betty Crocker cookbook for my 11th birthday.  I'd just become a 4Her and my parents hoped it would encourage me to become a good cook.  I thought I had received the first Better Homes & Gardens cookbook as a wedding gift.  I'm pretty sure I did, though I was 20 when I married.  The last and newest cookbook I bought for myself when a friend was fighting breast cancer.  These are my favorite books to cook from.

The recipe I chose from the 1953 edition of Better Homes & Gardens was on a page so tattered and faded I had to be sure I could read it before beginning the recipe.  The paper is thin and supple.  The ink is faded.  The recipe, timeless, to quote an ad that's going around.

Probably the only reason I tackled the pie, besides my promise, was my memory of a young me whipping up a pie as if it was nothing at all.  I was using a pre-made pie crust, but the rest I did by hand.  I washed the lemons, cut them, and squeezed the juice with an old-fashioned juicer.  I grated the zest off with a grater, worrying about nicking my hands on the teeth.  I stirred the basic recipe while it bubbled for five minutes and I was switching arms because I was wearing out.

I worried most about the timing:  crust done, warm pudding ready, meringue ready to go on top of warm pudding.  I had to have everything prepped before I began putting the pieces together. 

It turned out great.  I wasn't sure how much meringue I should put on top so I held some back.  It looks like plenty to me.  It took about 2.5 hours from start to finish.  I don't think I could have done it a lot faster and still use mostly scratch ingredients.  I made two pies.

Our square dance friends were delighted with the pies.  They were dished out in tiny bits.  One dancer kept saying "mmmmmm"  and "mmmmmm" and he didn't have to tell me he was enjoying it.  Best of all my square dancer friends really appreciated it.  It made the work seem like nothing. 

I work hard for praise.  (grin)


PS. There was too much filling and too much meringue so I mixed them together in the pan and ate it like a kid.  Maybe that's when it tastes best.


  1. Ooooh, it looks GREAT!! I am jealous of your square dancing friends! :)

    I, too, have a Betty Crocker cookbook from when I got married. I LOVE that cookbook. It has great recipes, but it also explains what the techniques are and how to do some things. It is like the bible of cooking!

  2. I wish I could have shared it with you too. No taste to a photo.


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