Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mom's Meringue Pie

         One of my greatest joys in memory was taking a bite of one of Mom’s meringue pies.  Her meringue was the lightest, just right sweetness that ever melted in your mouth. If it was chocolate, the perfect combination of thickness, sweetness, and chocolate sent you to heaven. If it was lemon, your saliva gland under your jaw would be shot with a sweet tartness that made you beg for another hit.
      Wayne hates meringue, so I never worked at perfecting her recipe because he would never eat it, and I certainly didn’t need the temptation to have a whole pie sitting around. Janie and I worked at a microwave version of her lemon meringue pie when I visited her in Norway. It was wonderful. A fun time with her, too.
      So, a few years pass, and I pretty much fall back into not thinking about ever making it. Janie visited me this past March and we tried out the chocolate pie version. Long story short…too many cooks spoil the pie, but we did survive it, and it actually turned out great, in spite of us.
     Actually the long version is kind of fun to hear… I was reading off the ingredients while Janie dumped it in a bowl. Her portions were generously estimated, and before the 6 minute microwaving was up, it was a thick lumpy brownie. (We had also had a mess with the pie crust and redid it as well before all this "filling" mess. So the situation was already tense). I would take it out of the microwave and try to beat it to a pulp hoping to get the lumps out. All the while whining and going on about how lumpy it was. I know texture would be an issue with Stephanie when she came to dinner that night. So stir I did, but Janie just flipped her wrist and went to sit on the couch. I had lost my partner in crime, and I was pissed. She had just abandoned me and said big deal. I was left to figure out what to do. Finally I got it as smooth as possible, and Janie came back to make the meringue. By the time we had dessert and cut the pie, the lumps were gone and all enjoyed the pie. We had a good laugh about our reactions.
      So now I’m on a mission and want to see if I can get mom’s meringue just right. To heck with Wayne’s pickyness! The perfect opportunity --- Bonny and Gary’s first BBQ of the season. I’ll make pies. (Uh-oh! Here it comes!) I only had skim milk which I knew wouldn’t work. So I added some extra heavy whipping cream I had on hand. It became one huge RICH brick. Something set me off and I was mad. Embarrassed? Probably.  Frustrated? yes!  Hormonal? Without a doubt! ….But my mind said that I was mad at Wayne (get do I turn this around and make it his fault?) This is how… if he had not been so against meringue all these years, I would have been working on the recipe to make it as delicious as Mom’s. So it was his fault and that’s why I was mad. I didn’t say this was fair or even logical…it was really insane.
      I went to that party in the most seething, foul mood I can ever remember being in, but I was not about to show it in public. I just renamed it a Double Chocolate Fudge pie and acted like it was supposed to be that thick, and then ordered a double scotch and water…the first of 3 that night. This is not my usual “sipping-one-drink so I can drive Wayne home” manner, and I am not a happy drunk under the best of situations. Morbid, morose, mourning come to mind if you want to know the truth. I hid in the bathroom until Wayne found me and we went home. I don’t even know if Wayne knew my anger was directed at him or not. I don’t think I told him it was his fault. I hope I didn’t anyway.
So the challenge of making a meringue pie has come to an end. No wait… we’re having Craig and Vickie over tonight. Steph is coming too. I think I‘ll try to make a lemon meringue pie. After all Tom is coming to visit in a few weeks and I would love to make him mom’s perfect lemon meringue pie. Am I ever going to learn?


  1. Nothing like mother's or grandmother's pies and somehow the all powerful Lemon Meringue seems to be the aspiration of all - me too. Always told when growing up that the sign of a good cook is THE PIE. Although just about the only thing Mama made well was 1950's creamed tuna on Wonder Bread, she still said the pie deal was #1. My grandmother, during her yearly visits, made a pie we waited for and have never had another that tasted so good - raspberry chiffon in a graham cracker crust. Part of it's charm was watching it made while our grandmother was dressed in a lovely suit, high heeled patent leather shoes, gloves and a hat, or it just seemed that way! She was from back East and very mysterious. Your efforts with pie are probably better than you may know. Your humor and perseverance are charming. Your mother must have been a wonderful cook. Did she have other specialties? When your next group of people arrive, I'll bet whatever you fix of your mother's will simply and sweetly remind all of you of her.

  2. I was inspired make a pie. Has anyone ever seen the pitiful blob that 103 degree heat with high humidity does to the meringue! The filling was also so thick that I will tell my family that it's lemon curd for crumpets...

  3. Family recipes are so sweet - literally, sometimes. I can't smell bread without thinking of visiting my step-grandmother in Ohio each summer. She would bake the most wonderful raisin bread. When asking her one day of I could watch and learn, it was quite a lesson. She said,"First, take 5 handfulls of flour, one half handful of sugar." And the list went on. It was heaven. Even though the recipe was written down, I could never really get it right. What was right is that she treated me like I was just her grand-daughter, not a step child. Her farm house was warm and friendly with a huge vegetable garden, chicken coops and she made us ready for church each Sunday. No doubt, your mother's pie baking was the beginning of feeling good. I enjoy your writing about your family. Thanks.

  4. Hiding in the bathroom at someone's house. I've done it several times over the years when I had a little too much. Some bathrooms are better than others. I've done it at home, too. Once - only once, thank goodness - my husband kicked a hole into the door. We laughed until we cried. I don't know why these guys can make us so crazy! It seems to me that is when a good piece of pie is in order. You should print your mother's recipe. How was her apple pie?


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