LET’S COOK: 36 lemon meringue pies sold at variety show
What is it that attracts many people to lemon meringue pie? It could be the unique flavor of lemons–zesty, sharp, and refreshing? Maybe it is the meringue that is sweet and swirled into cloud of lightness and paired with the invigorating lemon filling that sends one’s taste buds whirling.
The Heritage Singers just finished a 6-night run of their annual Variety Show, “The Wizard of Odd.” In addition to the meal and show, there is the ever-popular silent auction which features many unique and handmade items including a section of baked goods–this year, baked goods were the go-to items.
This was my sixth variety show, and I bring a homemade lemon meringue pie each evening. In my rushing world-sometimes, well most times–the pie is still a bit warm as it is set upon the table. Steam tends to gather on the clear lid and then the most inviting droplets appear on the meringue like jewels set upon the snow.
The lemon’s intriguing flavor and puff of meringue pull in bidders each evening, and it has become a lively competition to see who is willing to pay the top price for this very fresh pie. To date $2,160 has been raised from the 36 lemon pies that have appeared at the silent auction. The top price paid has been $135 with an average being around $60. Blessed are we to have such good bidders.
Each evening as the bids are being placed, someone will ask for the recipe of Lemon Meringue Pie, and they say “I know you have had it in your column, but could you run it again?” So here comes Lemon-Aid for these folks and others. Another question that is often asked is “What other kind of pie could you bring beside lemon meringue?” “Is there any other pie?” My choice would be for starters: Amaretto Cream Coconut pie, rhubarb custard pie with meringue and pineapple pie with piled high meringue.
I learned the art of making lemon meringue pie from my mother. Her favorite pie to make was apple; however, when the McLean County Fair rolled around each year and the Commercial Club need pies for their stand, she showed up with three pies each day of the fair. Her trio was always the same, apple, cherry and lemon meringue pie. I can recall my mom humming as she went about her pie making. She had mastered pie crust, rolling out the dough and creating the filling. She was in her comfort zone when creating these pies
My very favorite and go to recipe comes from Mrs. Fred (Lydia) Eman, of Underwood. I first made this pie when I was 12 years old and it continues to win praises. I have tried other recipes, but this one seems to have just the right combination.
Much of successful pie baking comes from experience and allowing enough time to do a good job. Tips such as using lemons that are at room temperature also aid in creating a sweet success. Now if your pie does not turn out perfectly, just try again and after 36 times you are still having flops then I would suggest you give a try to basketball layups, playing whist, or raising African violets with magnificent blooms.
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