Facing the soup pie and turning it into lemon meringue

Third time’s a charm.

I know what you’re thinking: gosh, can you GET OVER the stinkin’ lemon meringue pie already. For goodness sake there are a million other pies to try.

No. I cannot.

You don’t understand. This is personal. And, I have new ammunition: a new recipe.

It was funny how the recipe came about, because I was at a ladies fellowship function at my church. And, of course, when the conversation turns to baking, I have nothing intelligent to say, so I tell a funny story of how badly I messed something up.

And that’s what I was doing. I chuckled and told one of the ladies how lemon meringue pies are my vice and I’ve gone two Thanksgivings in a row trying, and failing, and having to tell my family and friends that there would be no lemon meringue pie. But instead of laughing, she looked at me with such great concern, which turned into determination, and she immediately told me how she’s going to send me the recipe she uses for lemon meringue pie.

She had a resolute purpose on helping me. And it was pretty catching, so here I am.

Trying. Again.

So my new friend, Lisa, had also sent me the recipe and instructions on how to make my own pie shell and pastry, but I figured I’d start easy the first time and simply baked a frozen one in the oven.

I did that first. And didn’t burn it. =-)

Then, I decided I’d do everything right this time and read the whole recipe before I began. (Hehe) I took out all my ingredients, measured some so they’d be ready and on hand. And shredded my lemon peel and separated my eggs, whacking them three times with a fork so they were “lightly beaten” and put them in the heat-proof bowl.

So, via the recipe, I started by pouring my cornstarch and so much sugar that you don’t even want to know into a pot and mixed it.

After you “gradually” add the water and stir, you put it on medium heat and stand there, still stirring, (because it has to be “constant”) while your life wastes away.

It really feels like all you’re doing is stirring water and this must be some practical joke. But after a while, globs begin to form in the bowl of your spoon, you play with them a little, and BAM the thing comes to life and thickens so quick it scares you.

You’re supposed to mix this for a minute, which goes by fast, considering you spent a lifetime chained to this stove top. Then you’re supposed to pour half of it into the egg yolks waiting in the bowl from before. (I believe this is so the yolks don’t just boil by themselves and make Chinese egg soup the second you put them in the hot goop stuff.) You mix it, then pour it all back in the pot and mix that.

Then this is supposed to boil for another minute, which might be where I messed up, because I turned off the heat to pour the cornstarch into the yolks without leaving an open flame. So it took a little longer than usual to return to a boil once I turned the fire back on.

After that minute, you put your margarine, lemon juice, and lemon peel in and mix, then you’re supposed to pour the whole thing into your pie shell and spread your meringue over the warm custard (which you’ve magically prepared, between stirring the custard constantly?).

The meringue thing threw me for a loop. I don’t think I can make it before I make the custard, because when I did my first soup pie, the meringue was melting on the counter. I could be wrong, which might be the case, and meringue can stay on the counter forever without dying. But anyway, I had my little brother stirring the custard, while I quickly dumped all the ingredients for the meringue in my kitchen aid (whisk attachment) and turned it on. That thing works like a beauty.

In a few minutes, I had meringue ready, though I might’ve overdone it a bit. It was so thick that it barely spread anywhere. When I tried to spread it on the custard, after pouring the custard in the shell, it would push the custard down and make it spill out of the shell. I had to kind of cut the meringue to place it on top, then molded it into a dome.

I was having fun and made little spike designs on it then put it in the oven until the top was a light “delicate” brown.

Gosh it was beautiful.

I let it cool before putting it in the fridge, and waited until after dinner to have the moment of truth: actually cutting into and tasting it.

I was pretty nervous. I cut it and pulled the first slice out.

It was foreboding and mushy. And there were some air pockets in the meringue from where it didn’t spread properly. But it was the most serve-able pie I’ve ever made, so I cut everyone a piece.

I’ll admit. I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t absolutely perfect. I was feeling pretty optimistic and was shaking with nerves the whole time, making sure I didn’t mess up.

Then we tasted it. My little brother is a lemon lover. He got the first piece, inhaled it, and was quickly back for more. My dad had the second piece and said I nailed it on taste. But when my mom and I sat down and tried it, we practically cringed in unison.

It was so sweet. You had one piece and felt like a layer of sugar was sticking to the roof of your mouth and tongue. I commented on it, and a few seconds later, my mother, who clearly wasn’t listening from being distracted by her own sugar experience announced, “the sweetness sticks to the pallet”.

My dad and brother disagreed. But I think next time I might not put sugar in the meringue too, even though last night was the first time my little brother actually ate it. He usually pushes it to the side.

I do think I’m on to something, though. Now that I have an idea of how things’ll go, a little more practice and I might actually be prepared for next thanksgiving. Watch out! =-P

Starting to ooze. .

Thank you, Lisa, for the recipe!

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