In all my work, I try to say – ‘You may be given a load of sour lemons,
why not try to make a dozen lemon meringue pies?’ -Maya Angelou

Shirley's Lemon Meringue Pie

Shirley’s Lemon Meringue Pie

While not written in my mother’s hand, this is exactly how her recipe card for her lemon meringue pie reads.  Note that it really doesn’t say how to put the pie together-just a reminder of the ingredients for the crust, filling and meringue. I guess it is assumed that you know how to make a lemon pie-you just need a little help with what ingredients you choose. So, for those who have never watched Shirley make a pie, here’s a few hints:

1. The crust

Preheat oven to 425. Mix the flour, salt (note you get to pick how much), shortening and water. Roll into a ball, then roll out dough on a lightly floured surface.  Make it big enough for a 9-inch pie plate and carefully transfer it from floured surface to plate. Press to fit the plate, crimp the edges and then make a few sticks with a fork in the bottom on the crust. Bake for about 15 minutes until light brown. Set aside to cool.

2. The filling

Pretty straight forward here with this little tip: that first mixture of sugar, etc will require a watchful eye and stirring. Once it is bubbly, reduce the heat and cook a couple for minutes-remember to stir. The “cook ’til thick” is in a couple of stages.  Remove the sugar mix from the heat and then do the egg yolk thing.  When you return the mixed egg yolk, stir like a crazy women or the texture will surely not be like Shirley’s. Okay, now for the lemon juice and rind.  Bottled lemon juice? NEVER!  Lemon rind from the spice rack? Why would they make such a thing when fresh lemon rind is so much better?

Do some gradual stirring and you are ready to pour this ambrosia of the god’s into the cooled baked pie crust. (My mouth is watering-really, the thought of using that glass lemon juicer and that pulpy juice in the sugar mix makes my mouth water.)

3. The meringue

Use the egg whites from the eggs you separated earlier, and while the earth will keep spinning if there is a speck of the yolk left in the whites, your meringue will surely not be like Shirley’s. Whip yolks until pretty fluffy before adding the sugar – one tablespoon at a time.  When you get a peak from dipping the beaters in the egg white you are ready to spread it on your lemon filling. And, of course, take a butter knife and make little tips across the tops. No self-respecting lemon pie baker would do less. Meringue cooks, looks and tastes best if cooked on low heat for a while. Maybe, 325 for 25-30 minutes.

This yummy lemon pie recipe is typical of any recipe I have received from our mother. When I asked her for her dressing recipe, she replied. “Honey I would have to send you my blue roastin’ pan, cause that’s the only way I know how much stuff I need.”

Is there a pastry chef in your family?  What is your favorite dessert?