|Can you hear it laughing at me?
Yup. The soup pie was back. With vengeance.
And I was keeping a positive attitude. I was. Honest I was. My best friend (you’ll remember her from “Bravery, Optimism, and Chocolate
“) asked me how the baking went (she was there to witness the original soup pie
). I told her my cup was half full, everything was going great. Flash a smile. Everything’s wonderful. Perfect. Marvelous.
(Of course, I didn’t tell her that I was too scared to check the lemon meringue pie and hadn’t seen it since the day before.) But my cup was still half full.
I wasn’t going to be caught off guard like I was last year; bragging about my desserts, just to have one fail, leaving me with one measly one left. Oh no. This year, I made three desserts. AndI kept my big mouth shut to the guests.
I started baking Wednesday. (Thank you, thank you. I know. It was a smart move. See? I was off to a good start.)
I began by putting two frozen pie crusts in the oven and washed the dishes as they baked. The pie crust would be for the lemon meringue pie. I only needed one, but they seemed so shallow that I figured it’d be better to bake two and have one extra, than bake one and for it to be too small. So two it was. And I didn’t burn them! I set them on the counter to cool.
With the dishes washed and sink cleared, I did the chocolate bon-bons next. I was supposed to use oreo cookies for the chocolate bon-bons, but I checked the grocery bags and found that my parents bought some sort of cheapo imitations. *exhale* Oh well, use what you get and don’t throw a fit.
Usually, I’d scrape the cream off the cookies then throw the cookies in a blender. But those darn wanna-be-oreos did NOT want to come apart! With a regular oreo, you twist the cookie, the cream almost peels off, and you’re done. The ones I had wouldn’t even twist. I had to use my butter knife to wedge ’em open. And the cream was far from peeling off. It was like trying to peel off cream cheese. There was no such thing as peeling. Eventually, I got it apart. Then I made the balls, dipped them in chocolate, put them in the freezer, and was on to dessert number two.
There was a little confusion regarding where the heck the cornstarch was. But my mom found it for me, so I started with the lemon meringue pie. Or the custard part, I mean.
The recipe read – and I quote! – “heat water and cornstarch mixture until thickened. About 3 to 5 minutes.” Sixty seconds later, the cornstarch was suuuper thick. I’m trying to think of a way to describe it. . . THICK. That’s the best way. Picture a bowl filled with gray marbled, swirly, thick goop. The recipe said “until” thickened. And it was thick. So, I stopped at sixty, added my egg yolks the special way it says, mixing constantly so they don’t cook in the mixture. Then lemon juice. Mix, mix, mix. That should do it.
Just for the heck of it, I dipped my pinky in the yellow liquid and licked it. Ack, sour. Oh my gosh, I never put in the sugar. Why didn’t the recipe call for sugar? . . . It did. “Mix cornstarch and water, and gradually add sugar, stirring until smooth. Then, heat . .” (Yes, I have an excuse for this mess-up) See, the reason I missed that little detail was because I was too busy freaking out over the “gradually”. I thought I was supposed to gradually add cornstarch.
“It said to gradually add cornstarch. But I didn’t. Do you think I should start over?” I asked my parents.
They asked me what happened, then assured me it would be all right and to continue the recipe. So I did. And I continued it until it was “ready” to be poured in the crust. That was when I did the pinky-taste-test, and that was when I made my little discovery.
“Um. . .”–my parents looked up for another announcement–“I forgot to add the sugar.”
I think they rolled their eyes. “When were you supposed to add the sugar?”
“Um. Like . . . in the beginning?”
No, I think this is when they rolled their eyes. “Just add it now and we’ll see how it turns out.”
It’s just sugar, I thought, surely this wouldn’t cause another soup pie. I added the sugar, mixed it in for a while so it’d dissolve, I think I heated it a little more also, then poured it in one of the pie crusts. (Guess I didn’t need the other one after all.) Then I covered the top with plastic wrap and stuck it in my fridge.
My third dessert was pumpkin pie. I was going to cheat and buy the kind that comes in a can, pre-mixed. But my mom couldn’t find it, so she got me canned pumpkin instead. Nothing like good ol’ made-from-scratch. It actually wasn’t that hard. (Except, next time, I’ll use a bigger bowl.) I followed the recipe like a little angel and divided it among two frozen, deep-dish, pie crusts. Little here, little there, little here. . The pie crusts were beginning to reach capacity, and I still had filling. That’s when I noticed the extra pie crust I had left over from the lemon meringue, sitting gloriously on the counter top.
I smiled at my cleverness as I poured the rest of the pumpkin filling into that crust. It took a little while for me to realize that was stupid. Since the deep-dish pie crusts were raw and frozen, and the one I just filled was already cooked. Ugh, it’s going to burn. Great idea, smarty pants.
I left my mom in charge of the pies so I could go with my Dad and little brother to the store. I had to give her specific directions – like a mother, leaving her child – on how to care for my babies. And I told her about my “experimental pie” on the bottom oven rack. I was expecting to find it charcoaled, but when I came home, I found three, beautiful pumpkin pies cooling on the counter! I couldn’t believe it! The experimental one just had darker crust with a black ring around the filling. Eh, who could tell? It worked!
Needless to say, I was positive the lemon meringue pie would be just as successful.
Thanksgiving day, my plan was to do the meringue at the very last minute. Probably when people were done with dinner and wanted to digest before dessert. So that’s exactly what I did. After dinner and a little talking, I put on my apron and checked the pie for the first time. I tilted it. It didn’t seem to be sloshing under the plastic. Score! I put it back in the fridge until it was needed.
Happy like no other, I took the egg whites from the fridge, scooped some particles out of it with a spoon (ha, oops, probably should’ve covered that before putting it in there. Hey, God blessed you with immunities, don’t worry about it), added the cream of tartar, and started to blend. Vrrrrrrrrr!
I was so happy that I even started took pictures of the meringue in process.
La-dee-daa, la-dee-daa, just whippin’ up some meringue, la-dee-daa. Ooh, it looks good. La-dee. .
I’ll break it to you now that this was
the last pic I took. I was too busy
pouting to remember to take pics of the other desserts.
When I got it to were “stiff glossy peaks formed,” I took the pie out of the fridge again and peeled the plastic wrap off it. The edges seemed to be a little different than the center. I picked it up and tilted it. My heart sank. The center of the pie was oozing about. It was soup pie all over again!! I couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe it. How could this be?
Obviously, I didn’t learn my lesson from last year, because my very first instinct was to stick the darn thing in the freezer. But I didn’t. Instead, my mom told me in hushed tones not to make a big deal, no one knew about the lemon meringue pie. Just put it back in the fridge, and maybe we can bake the meringue. My mom likes these cookie-type things that we thought were made from whipping up meringue and baking little dollops of it. So that’s exactly what we did.
I scooped dollops onto a cookie sheet and baked it for a couple minutes. The tips began to brown so I took it out. My mom poked one. It was still squishy. My thinking, I told her, was that they’ll harden as they cool. I mean, who could blame me, that’s what cookies do. . . Well, in short, they did not harden. Instead, (out of spite, I’m sure) they shriveled into ugly brown, wrinkled lumps. My mom pulled one apart. It was marshmallow textured. I actually thought it was pretty cool. Hey, we made marshmallows. When life hands you lemons. . . or in this case, meringue, you make marshmallows. Who knew?
I pulled one apart and stuck it in my mouth. It was nasty. The burned top had a sticky skin and the foamy center tasted funky and burned. There went that experiment down the drain.
But still, my mom assured me, we still had the pumpkin pies, the chocolate bon-bons, my brother made a lemon-cookie-pudding type thing, it was going to be fine. Also, no one knew I tried (and failed) the lemon meringue pie anyhow. It was fine.
We began asking the guests what they wanted for dessert (minus the lemon merinuge) and the compliments poured in about my pumpkin pie and bon-bons. That’s when my friend’s dad looked at me. “Sooooo, no lemon meringue pie, huh?”
I gave my friend a glare that she returned with a sheepish grin. Yeah. No one knew about the lemon meringue pie. Not a soul.