lemon Meringue Pie.....better known as humble pie

I woke up again early Sunday morning to make a pie. I can't tell you what fun it is to come downstairs to a dark, quiet, kitchen by myself, start a pot of coffee, roll out pie crust, squeeze, peel, chop, mix and then have a pie ready to eat for Sunday dinner. All while everyone is sound asleep upstairs. Try it. You'll love it.

This pie actually began on Saturday. We were having the Willis' over for dinner and I thought I would make a lemon meringue pie for dessert for them, instead of for Sunday. I have never made a lemon meringue pie. Let me first say that when I make something for the first time, it NEVER turns out good. EVER. So why I thought I would try a pie I had never made before for company beats the heck out of me! But anyway, here I am Saturday afternoon just baking away in the kitchen, following the directions, imagining how yummy this pie was going to taste and how I KNEW that Andy and Erin were just going to love my pie. No humility. Even though I had never made it before, I was SURE that since I am an expert pie maker, it would turn out fabulous. You get the picture. No humility whatsoever. Well, that pie turned out to be a disaster. A flop. A culinary mess. It never set in the fridge and was a runny yellow goo. No, I wouldn't be serving our guests a lemon meringue pie. I got it, the lesson on humility....

So, I woke up Sunday morning with more determination than ever to make this pie. Quiet house, coffee brewing, I got everything out again, ready for round two. I read and reread the directions just to make sure I was doing it right. I measured everything right to the line. When I got to the part where the filling is supposed to thicken.....it wasn't. I sat there over the stove for 30 minutes waiting for that sucker to thicken. By then TJ strolls downstairs. In a frustrated plea I asked him what am I doing wrong? He, very nonchalantly says, "this double boiler you made is not working, put the sauce in a pan and heat it that way. It'll thicken." And by golly, he was right. What took me 30 minutes to try and thicken was done in 30 seconds.

He will forever be known to me as the pie man.
The saver of the pie.
My hero.

Quickly return my thoughts that this pie is going to be awesome. Until I get to the meringue part. You have seen how a meringue is supposed to look. All glossy with white fluffy peaks that rise and fall ever so slightly at the top with just the tips all brown....

that was NOT the way mine looked.

After all the time I spent trying to make this pie, I am reminded of a two things:

1. Perseverance
2. Humility

I have to make things over and over and over before getting them right. To keep trying. And to remember that lovely virtue of humility. I can't have perfection, nor should I try to obtain it. It doesn't matter. What matters is that I am making something out of love for my husband, children and friends. It's for them. They don't care how it looks, just that I made them something special to eat.

I need some practice with making the peaks and curls. Mine is peak-less.
The Best Lemon Meringue Pie: (I didn't call it that, it's just the title of the recipe....I swear!)

Single pie crust baked

1 1/4 cups sugar
6 TBS cornstarch
2 cups water
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 TBS butter

3 large egg whites
good pinch of cream of tartar
6 TBS sugar

1. Prepare the crust.
2. To make the filling, combine the sugar and cornstarch in the top of a double boiler. Stir in the water. (Next time I'm taking my husband's advice and just doing it in a sauce pan)
3. In a mixer, beat the yolks and lemon juice until it's light in color. Add to the sugar mixture. Cook until thick. Stir in the butter. Pour into the pie shell and cover the top of the filling with plastic wrap. Cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
4. preheat oven to 350 degrees.
5. To make the meringue, in mixer beat the egg whites until medium peaks form. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat. As the peaks get stiffer, begin to add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the meringue is as sweet as you want it to be. Beat until the meringue is very stiff and glossy but does not look dry.
6. Peel the plastic wrap off the lemon filling. Spoon the meringue over the lemon surface
mounding toward the center and coming all the way to the edges of the crust. Form peaks and curls by flipping the back of the spoon over the surface of the meringue.
7. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes.

And thank you Willis' for the beautiful hand picked flower boquet from your yard. You are so very thoughtful! They make me smile.


fullofgracex7 said...

I remember my mom's lemon meringue pie...mmm...it took lots of practice she told me to get those peaks and swirls just right. Something about the humidity too.?? All in all, it always tastes good no matter how it looks right? :)

I'm going to take that challenge of getting up to a quiet, dark kitchen and make a pie...this week maybe. I'm going to make "Millie's August Pie":

2 c. sliced peaches
2 c. raspberries
1 c. half and half
1 egg
2/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt

Place fruit in unbaked crust. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over fruit. Bake at 400 for 50 minutes.

HangerMom said...

I have totally had the experience of stirring something over the stove forEVER waiting for it to thicken. In my case, it was a custard. It said it would take about 10 minutes. I kid you not, I was stirring for over an hour before I called it thick enough.

When you're baking an empty pie crust, what do you do to keep the sides from falling in? Maybe it's just me, but I have a terrible time getting an empty crust to come out pretty - do you weight yours with anything?

Erin said...

For the record, Kristi makes a fabulous cherry tart - I can't believe it was the back-up dessert. And I can't wait to try the Lemon Meringue!
I've had this same issue making creme brulee, but I served it to my guests anyway. Perhaps I'll thicken it directly on the fire next time. I hope you are all up for burnt wrongly burnt creme brulee when Bible study is at my house next, because I'll probably still serve it no matter what!
You are a fabulous hostess, Kristi.