Lemon Meringue Pie With A Tasty And Angry Recipe

Did you ever get started doing something and found yourself herded into a completely different direction?

I did because I was stubborn.  Bound and determined to make “something good” for dessert that night, I started while I was making Mango Jam and was frustrated at each step.

First thing was I had my face stuffed in the fridge.  I spotted what I was looking for, Key Lime juice.  I knew that there were no Key Limes in the house, the little golf ball sized things had rolled off into the sunset a long time ago so there would be no “Zest” in the pie.

That’s a secret ingredient they don’t tell you.  If you don’t “Zest” your fruit, your citrus pie recipes won’t be as complex tasting.  Its a small thing, only a half to a teaspoon per pie or less, but it really does add a LOT to the taste.

So I pulled the bottle and noticed that it was more than six months out of date.  Giving the bottle a shake, I opened it up and saw some weird looking slick on top.  The juice was tan leaning toward brown.  No thanks, I’ll pour this one out.

The other bottle was the same, and there was a strange vacuum pressure thing going on.  Bad.

Ok, change in plans, I’ll make Lemon Meringue.  It’s really just about the same recipe.  The lemon juice was fresh, bought last week.

Pour out 1/2 cup into a measuring cup and slide that into the refrigerator.

Next, find the sweetened condensed milk. 

After 15 minutes of tearing the place apart, I gave up.  No sweetened condensed milk.  I had used it up making Dulce De Leche, or Caramel Sauce.  Good stuff, Explosively good actually.

Now what?

I went hunting for a recipe that needed no sweetened condensed milk, and I was not going to go out to the supermarket “Just For This”.

Annoyed at myself, I found a great recipe that I adapted to use. 

There are actually two separate recipes. 

  • The crust was a ready-made graham cracker crust because I was not in the mood to break up graham crackers, add butter, and bake that separately that day.  Shortcut, but it worked.
  • The Filling was adapted from this recipe, and there were very few changes other than the way I made it. 
  • The Meringue was from memory, and it’s truly basic.    “One of the best I have ever tasted!” because it was just two ingredients.

One warning though, if you are making meringue, don’t do it on a rainy day.  The meringue will sweat and get “goopy”.  Nobody wants a sweaty goopy meringue.  This is best done on a sunny day in a dry house.

First – the Meringue.

  • If there is any oil in the mixing bowl, the Meringue will refuse to “inflate”.
  • Add to the clean mixing bowl, 3 egg whites – COLD! (reserve the yolks for later)
  • Add to the clean mixing bowl, 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar.

Using a whisk if you are into punishing yourself, or a stand mixer, beat the mixture to stiff peaks.
You will know when you have stiff peaks when you can fluff up a bit of the meringue and it will stay fluffed.

Note, if you want more Meringue, add egg whites and sugar at 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar to each egg white.  It will scale up, but don’t go below 2 eggs.

Store the meringue in the refrigerator until ready, but it will deflate if it has been left too long.

Second, the Pie Filling.

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups water (cold)
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine (room temp is best)
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (optional but recommended)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

Process:

  • To non reactive 3 quart sauce pan, add all of the ingredients at once.
  • Turn on stove to medium.
  • Begin stirring the mixture with whisk, mixing spoon, or spatula.
  • The mixture will thicken at around 20 to 25 minutes.
  • When the mixture begins to thicken, it will thicken seemingly instantly.

Third – Assemble the Pie!

  • Add the pie filling to the pre-made pie shell leaving a little bit below the top of the crust for the meringue.
  • Spoon out the meringue on top of the pie filling.
  • Even out the meringue so that it reaches the edges of the pie.
  • With a fork, make a few spots where the filling and the meringue will mix.  This optional step will keep the meringue from peeling off of the top of the pie as easily as some pies.

Fourth – Bake the pie at 350 for 8-12 minutes or until the Meringue begins to toast golden brown.
Allow the pie to cool and set in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Butterflies and Bubbles Turn My Dog Into Jeff Spicoli

I guess in a way I’m fortunate.   I have this little park near the house.  It’s planted cheek-to-jowl with native flowering species.  If you wanted to know what a South Florida Meadow could possibly look like, you would walk into M.E. DePalma Park, put yourself on a giant copper green colored butterfly bench and take it all in.

It is something of an exception in suburbia.  Unless your neighbors are making an effort to plant “Butterfly Plants”, you won’t see a lot of butterflies float by on the breeze.  We do, and the park does, so we have these gentle creatures all year around.

It is a rare day that I don’t see a Swallowtail or a Monarch in my yard.  They leave me with a sense of wonder and I know that I am not alone.  Walking around my backyard “Cement Pond” with Rack, my McNab Dog, I was going through my morning introspective inspection.  Coffee in hand, dog at my side, I was checking the row of pots on the East side of the pool and noticed that my Mexican Milkweed had been chewed down to green sticks.  That meant that another wave of Monarchs had arrived a few days back and visited.  The cold weather up North means that we get their grandchildren here.

This sort of Snowbird I don’t mind.  Finding some jade green jewels hanging under the remaining leaves of the plants, I vowed to find my leftover seeds and scatter them in the yard.

Yes, I am Billy Milkweed-Seed.   If you live on my Island, and you have Milkweed in the yard, I may have had something to do with it.

Straightening myself out, I noticed a floating Monarch in his black and orange colors.  It had just left the Bougainvillea, finished his meal, and was patrolling the yard like I was.  Rack saw him too.  He stopped what he was doing and sat down on the ground and watched the insect glide on the morning air.  His brown eyes got as large as saucers and I almost could hear him say “Whoa Duuuuude!  Awesome, Man!” as the Monarch came within a few inches of his nose to land on the Lemon tree in the pot.

My dog acts like a stoner whenever he sees these creatures.  I guess I can’t complain, it’s entertaining.  Watching my fearful dog go from noticing the sounds of the trucks a couple blocks away in mild fear to total fascination due to this floating orange and black pair of wings.

Awesome, dude, totally awesome!

Padding back into the house, Rack seemed to be in a mellow mood.  Butterflies would do that and the yellow and black Swallowtail that was searching for my Lemon tree to turn it into a snack seemed to help. 

I walked into the kitchen and spotted a pile of trinkets.  Hoping to entertain Mr Dog a bit more, I grabbed a bottle of soap bubbles I keep for this purpose.  Lettie used to attack them.  She would get one in ten, pop the thing and had a great time chasing the bubbles.   She was an alpha dog, anything that I did was great but it had to be in it’s place.  Bubbles didn’t stay in their place so they had to be nipped at to get them there.  One pop and she’d move on.

Rack is a much more laid back soul, dude. 

I picked up the little plastic bottle, pulled up the wand and gave it a puff of breath.  There was a cloud of bubbles that came forth.  Cause and effect being what it was, Rack sat down.  Brown eyes got wide as the bubbles settled gently on the drafts around him. 

Whoa, Dude, Awesome! 

The construction of the swimming pool across the street didn’t matter, the airplanes overhead flying into FLL were irrelevant, my dog’s world had spun down to a shimmering, gossamer sphere of water, soap, and glycerine slowly settling on the breeze.  Dude.

Where most dogs would have made a token effort to round up the bubbles, my Rack simply sat and stared at them as one landed on his nose.   Yes, now I had a cross-eyed dog sitting in my dining room staring at the tip of his nose watching the colors shimmer in the compact florescent lights. 

He’s an amazingly intelligent dog.  Things he never showed any interest in doing with me, he retained from the first few months of his life when he lived with the people up in Rome, Georgia who turned him into an Owner Surrender.  He “spontaneously” gave a high-five to my neighbor Bill when he came over for a visit the other day.  But bubbles?  I guess he just never saw them.

Cool, Dude.  Bubbles!

The Attack of the Lemon Curd!

Walking out into the back yard, I noticed that one of the lemons had fallen off of my tree.  I was actually walking to the shed to get the weedeater to do some needed yard work but this set things in motion.

Since I had a Meyer Lemon in the refrigerator from last week, this one gave me enough to make lemon curd.  Instead, I got the bright idea, lets super size the recipe!

The recipe is bulletproof.  The trick with it is to make sure you don’t overcook the stuff.  The result is basically “Pie Filling” but it’s beyond excellent with cream cheese on a bagel, like you can see on my original posting with the recipe.

Things went well, to start.  I have a two quart non stick sauce pan that is perfect for the job.  When the curd is done, the mix starts to thicken and stirring it with a small spatula will have it actually “split” away from the pan in a wake.  If you go longer you end up with a caramel and eventually a candy.  Candy is dandy but it’s thicker than you need.

When you make a recipe with sugar, you’re depending on a chemical reaction between the sugar, the heat, and the fat in the mix.  In this case the recipe decided to do something weird.  It got big, fast.  There was some gas that was created which expanded the mix in the pan so I panicked.  Grabbing the 1 cup measure, I dipped it into the pan and dumped some off into the skillet, spilling it all over the top of the stove.  My I Love Lucy moment continued with having to do it another four times. 

Setting the stage for a messy kitchen with jelly all over the place, I managed to finish off the remaining mix in the sauce pan while keeping the skillet warm but not as warm as the sauce pan.  That let me come back after pouring the sauce pan into jars for storage.

There was a beautiful lemon yellow curd inside the pan, and also outside the pan as I lifted it off the burner and walked across the room.  Amazing how easily 170 degree lemon curd can flow because now I had a yellow slick of goo gluing my right foot to the floor as well as my right pant leg, the splash on the sink and the counters.  Shaking off the pain for my art, I did manage to pour about three quarters of the sweet lemony goodness into the jars while fretting about the other four cups of goo on the burner in the skillet.

Having poured the remainder into four jars, I made it back to the skillet just in time for the recipe to thicken enough to find its way into the fifth jar without a drop spilled.

So if you want to try something, learn from my mistake.  If you’re going to double the recipe, make sure your sauce pan fits your needs.   Sometimes your food expands with heat and sometimes it just makes gas.

At least I won’t have to go back to commercial jelly for a while for my breakfast.  The recipe is a wonderful treat, if you have about 45 minutes to make it.  The trick is to use the right sauce pan. Simply mix all the dry ingredients in the pan, scramble the eggs and add them and the wet ingredients to the pan, then cook over medium low stirring constantly until it begins to thicken.

Training the Dog to Hate Peanut Butter

Pretty difficult task isn’t it?  Teaching the dog how to hate peanut butter?  I think I’ve learned how.

You see Mrs Dog is incredibly smart.  In her younger days, we’d ask her questions and she’d follow through with the results.  “Show Me” wasn’t Missouri, it was an invitation by us to have her show me what she wants.  When I moved from Philly to South Florida, the first thing we had done with her was to teach her the neighborhood by going out in a general direction and say to her “OK, Go Home”. 

She never got lost.  She’d get us home every time.

Tricking her to take her pills was not too difficult when it was a random thing.  She was always a very healthy dog, just toss the pill over your shoulder and she’d scramble for it.  The pill would be gone in a bite.

She has a taste for Glucosamine.  The capsules are white, filled with a powder, and slightly sweet.  She actually bites down on them and scatters Glucosamine all over my kitchen floor, typically right after I have mopped it.

Now that she’s older, pills are a daily occurrence.  Twice daily for the Glucosamine, twice daily for the thyroid hormones.  I can usually get her to take the thyroid pill by treating it as a treat.  She’ll do a trick, then get the pill, give me a dirty look, then spit it out and of course eat it off the floor again.

There goes the Dining Room floor.

Lately she had a flare up.  We thought it was due to her thyroid medications giving her a reaction.  Her skin got dry and flaky, and she was scratching almost constantly.  After taking her back to the vet, we came home with weaker thyroid meds and some Antibiotics that we were to give her twice daily.

Great!  More Pills!  Lets do a dance around the microwave!

Why the microwave dance?  She decided she didn’t like the Antibiotics after the second dose.  First it was sneak it in with the food, then that didn’t work, she would eat around the pill and spit it out.   Forgetting that she still had teeth, I slipped the pill in the side of her jaw and tickled her throat.  She swallowed it but hated the experience.

Now for the heavy guns.  Peanut butter!  


The last time she had seizures, she lived on the stuff.   Peanut butter on a saltine with a steroid pill happily hidden deep under all that brown goo.  She ate them and didn’t think twice.

Grabbing the butter knife, I would get a dollop of peanut butter, drop an Antibiotic on it, then roll it around like a little ball and then encrust it in dog food.   Sure!  That would fool her!

Guess again pal!  You see My Best Friend would bite down and have antibiotic flavored peanut butter now in her mouth. She’d swallow part, spit out the rest, then try to eat the food that wasn’t “polluted” with antibiotics.

Time for another change in plans I guess.  Glucosamine and Thyroid meds on the food, antibiotics will have to be done separately. 

Luckily it’s less than another week of this.  Her skin is mostly cleared now.  She’s scratching approximately as much as she did before all this coincidental nonsense hit. 

When I reach for the Peanut Butter jar, she isn’t begging nearly as much as she had been.   I guess today would be a good day to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.  I have a jar of Lemon Curd in the refrigerator plus one to spare, as well as a Cinnamon Raisin roll… Maybe I can have that without having a wet nose in the middle of my lunch?

Lemon Curd Recipe

That yellow stuff on top of the cream cheese on my mini bagels is something wonderful.

I got into a discussion of Lemon Curd with a friend who was coming up for a visit a while back.  He was speaking of his youth in Chester UK area and of how much he loved lemon curd.  I admitted I hadn’t had it but next trip out that I saw it I picked some up.

Lemon Curd is a custardy smooth cream that tastes of lemons and sweetness.  If it is done right, it is quite a complex flavor since it uses the Lemon Zest.  If you find a recipe that only uses Lemon Juice, it’s just not going to be as good.

This recipe I had found will work equally well with Orange or Lime.  The Lemon Curd is commonly used as Pie Filings but I’d say enjoy it any way you can.

Don’t be threatened by something new, this really was easier than it may sound for a beginning cook or baker.  Even Non-Cooks could get this to work, and first time out I got the results I was looking for even though I really went a bit nuts with some bizarre substitutions of technique.

First, Lemon Zest is the yellow part of the skin of the lemon.  If you get down to the white part, it will be bitter so your best bet is to get a Zester.  If you don’t want to get a Zester for “just one recipe”, use a vegetable peeler. 

Second no matter what you use to get the zest, you will want to chop it down to very small pieces.  It will cook better.

Third, if you can’t get your zest chopped down, the solution is simple.  Use your food processor.  Add the sugar to the food processor with a chopping blade, then the zest, then turn it on until everything is chopped down and even. 

All of that is a lead in to how I made it wrong, but it turned out wonderful –  I used a vegetable peeler and then a hand mixer since my food processor was in the dish washer.  It never really got the Lemon Zest down to the right size, you really do want it fine.

Next, when you cook, do so at a low heat and slowly turn the burners to no more than medium.  I got it up to 4 on my electric range with 5 being medium.  If you go too fast, the mixture will make bubbles and when bubbles pop, they’ll burn your hands… so keep the heat low.

Finally when you cook this, keep gently stirring.  Use a whisk or a fork.  It will thicken up in about 10 to 20 minutes.  You will want a consistency like pudding.  I used a thermometer and stopped when it got to 180F, but really it thickened much earlier.  I went overboard with the heat but it turned out fine. 

Remember, the goal is to get something that you can spread on toast.  I suggest a Sesame Bagel with Cream Cheese.  Toasted of course…

Now relax.  It’s really easy to make something like this!  Trust me, would a face like this lie to you?  No…

There are many recipes out there, the best one I found was the simplest. 

  • 3 Lemons Zested
  • Juice from those lemons
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 stick of unsalted sweet butter

Zest those lemons and get the pieces as small as you can reasonably get them. 
Add Zest to Sugar.
Mix Lemon and Sugar well.
Add all ingredients to sauce pan over low to medium heat.
On the heat, mix all ingredients in sauce pan until smooth.

  • Lemon Zest
  • Lemon Juice
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Butter

Remember to stir the Lemon Curd consistently. 
Slowly raise the heat from low until the mixture thickens but not above medium heat.
Lemon Curd will be finished when the temperature is around 160-180 degrees.
Consistency will be like a pudding, cool and store in jars for up to a month.
Lemon Curd is also wonderful served in tarts or in pies and is an excellent substitute for Lemon Meringue Pie Filling.

These old recipes are usually the simplest and easiest.   I’d say try the recipe as is, then if you prefer a more tart recipe, reduce the sugar to “dial it in” to your tastes.  It yielded 24 ounces of Lemon Curd and tasted to me the same sweetness as a commercially available British Lemon Curd but with a much more complex flavor since it was absolutely fresh.

A Single Ponderosa Flower is Pollinated

I can stand snakes.
I can stand spiders.
I can stand most creepy crawlies.

I can not stand bees.

They make me run and scream like a little girl.  I have always been afraid of the little blighters.  So while for you this picture may not be a big deal, it took a lot of mental preparation for me to get it.

What you have is one small blossom being pollinated in the back yard.  We have a Ponderosa Lemon in a prison, er pot.  It seems to like it there just like the nearby Meyer Lemon does.  There are dozens of flowers on the plant, petals about as long as your thumbnail.  Not a whole lot of scent to them, the Meyers are magnificent in bloom and our Meyer is in bud again.

But to get the lemons you have to have bees.

(I’ll shudder here and save you the effort.)

The Meyer Lemon we have has given fruit, and it was wonderful, but they are seedy lemons.  I saved off quite a few of these lemon seeds and planted one pot with them.  I now have seven seedlings and if any get past the baby plant stage, I’ll be passing them out.  For now, the seedlings are too small to count on and probably are getting overwatered so I don’t expect much…

But we’re still here making the bees happy.  They’re not my Monarchs, but they’ll do.   Once the blossoms are done, I’ll be safe again in the back yard.

Anyone have a can of bug spray?