Years ago, I had gone out shopping and had been gone quite a while.  On my return home, a wonderful aroma greeted me.  Going straight to the kitchen, I found two gorgeous lemon pies on the counter with no meringue on top.  The crust was beautifully fluted and the lemon filling looked mouthwatering.  No one was around to explain this treat…  Shortly my husband, Joe, came inside and I, of course, asked him who had made the pies for us.  He said that he had made them.  You’ve probably heard me mention earlier that my husband rarely cooks and certainly not pies!  I really didn’t take him seriously, particularly since they certainly didn’t look like a novice cook had made them!  He kept insisting that he had made them, even with a little smirk on his face that usually gives him away when he’s teasing me.  I called my friend, Georgia, who helped teach me to cook as a child, and is a marvelous cook herself, to see if she had delivered these jewels to us.  No, was the answer.  So, I asked Joe why they did not have meringues.  His reply was, “That part of the recipe didn’t work out exactly as planned.”  I went to the sink and found the truth in the evidence there.  He HAD made the perfect pies, just as he said, but the meringue attempt with the FLOUR in it was still lurking in the sink along with 4 bowls and a mini-mess.  We ate the pies with no meringue, and I can’t possibly describe to you how good they were.  Sometimes I need to learn to confidently bet on a “dark horse”


 




Cooking Tips:
Eggs, Separating: easiest to do when eggs are cold

Egg Whites: produce more volume when allowed to come to room temperature

Meringue: best made on a sunny day, moisture in air or on bowls, utensils, etc. are the enemy!  Use an electric mixer and a tall stainless steel, glass, or ceramic bowl; not plastic.  Do not get even a trace of egg yolk in egg whites. The fat in yolks is an enemy. bowls and utensils must be washed and very dry.

Lemons, Buying: select round, not oval shapes.  Feel; soft lemons are better than hard lemons


Lemon Rind or Zest: finely grate the thin yellow skin of lemon; grating too deep gives a bitter taste

Lemon, Juicing: to get the most juice from a whole lemon, first roll it several times using downward pressure from the heel of the hand while rolling it against a kitchen counter. Next, pierce the skin of lemon in 3 random places with the tip of a knife.  Place the lemon in microwave for 15 seconds.



FIRST PRIZE LEMON PIE

8-inch baked and cooled pie crust
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup plain flour
¼ tsp. salt
2 cups boiling water
3 eggs, separated (use yolks, well beaten in pie filling; use whites in meringue)
1 T. butter
Rind of 1 lemon, grated (optional)
Juice of 1 large lemon or 3 T. concentrated lemon juice
Optional Garnish: 1 whole fresh lemon slice, cut into quarters
1 stemmed maraschino cherry

Meringue:
3 egg whites, room temperature
6 T. powdered sugar
¼ tsp. cream of tartar

 

 

Bake piecrust according to the package directions.  Allow to completely cool before adding filling.
In a large non-stick saucepan, mix sugar, flour, and salt until well blended; then slowly add the boiling water while continuing to stir until all ingredients are completely dissolved.  Begin cooking filling over medium-high heat, while stirring entire bottom of saucepan constantly.  Cook, until mixture is thickened.  Remove from heat; then add the beaten egg yolks very slowly to the hot mixture.  Return the saucepan to medium-low heat and cook while stirring for about 1 to 2 minutes, allowing the egg yolks to cook.  Add butter, lemon rind, and lemon juice; stir until butter is melted and juice is blended.  Set aside filling to begin making the meringue.  Place an empty cookie sheet or pizza stone on the lowest rack in the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees.  When ready to begin making the meringue and until the pie is in the oven, don’t let the dog in or change the baby - no interruptions, please.
Meringue: Using an electric mixer, on high speed, beat egg whites until very stiff and dry.  Then, begin slowly adding the powdered; then add cream of tartar.  Continue beating for a couple more minutes.  Re-heat the lemon filling to hot and pour into the cooled piecrust.  Cover the hot filling with the stiff egg whites.  Place the pie on the preheated cookie sheet or pizza stone on the lowest oven rack and bake for about 20 to 30 minutes. Watch carefully during baking to get the meringue a light golden brown color.  After removing the pie from the oven, garnish with thin quarter slices of lemon in the center of meringue.  Top with a stemmed cherry.


Many years ago, a friend who had won First Prize at the County Fair gave my grandmother this recipe.  The only clue to just how old the recipe could be, is in the original wording – “Cook on the back of the range”.  The “range” was a wood stove.  The recipe is also unusual because it uses water and no milk products.  When cutting the pie, the filling will flow over the cut piecrust.  Not to worry – it tastes wonderful, if you like lemony things.  My husband, Joe, hasn’t made any more pies, but my brother, Tommy, and my friend, Georgia make it often.

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