Lemon Meringue Pie, a recipe

This pie recipe has gone through several iterations, refining it for maximal citrus flavor. It is not to be taken lightly, as it employs many more difficult aspects of cooking science. I highly recommend attempting it, only if you are well-versed in baking, or pies in general. And by this, I do not mean eating pies. You may eat as many chocolate cream tarts as you like, it does not make you proficient at baking.

Tools:

  • pie pan
  • saucepan
  • several glass bowls of varying sizes
  • standing or hand held mixer/ whisk and considerable endurance
  • microplane or cheese grater
  • plastic wrap
  • fork or pastry cutter
  • metal wisk
  • silicone spatula (for scraping)

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 1/3 c flour
  • 1/4 c. butter flavored vegetable shortening (You may use lard if you can find it, but for most, it can be quite difficult. However, this is the ideal element.)
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp of ice cold water

For the filling:

  • 4 very large eggs (six small)
  • 1 c corn starch
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 c. lemon juice (I highly recommend Mayer lemons)
  • 1 Tbsp zest (You may use the zest from the lemons, or add in some more interesting zest from another citrus relative, if you wish. Buddha’s Hand has a lovely floral note.)
  • cream of tartar and extra sugar (for the egg whites)

Instructions

  1. I know this seems strange, but separate your eggs, placing the whites into a large bowl in the refrigerator.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425°
  3. Mix flour and salt for the crust in a bowl, forming a small well in the center.
  4. Cut the shortening and butter into small cubes, keeping them as cold as possible.
  5. Place these into the well, and then incorporate flour with fork or pastry cutter until mixture resembles the texture of peas. Do not use your hands as the heat from them will melt the shortening, causing the pastry to be “heavy”, not light and flaky.
  6. Once mixture is the right texture, add the ice water and combine with a fork. It may appear as if it needs more water, it does not. Quickly gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a 4-inch-wide disk. Wrap this in plastic, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  7. Remove dough disk from refrigerator. If stiff and very cold, let stand until dough is cool but malleable.
  8. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the disk on a lightly floured surface from the center out in each direction, forming a 12-inch circle. Please recall that if it falls to pieces, this means that the pastry will be flaky. If you wish it to hold together more, simply work it more, however, this increases its chewiness.
  9. To transfer the dough, carefully roll it around the rolling pin, lift and unroll dough, centering it in an ungreased pie plate. (Or you can fold dough in quarters, then place dough point in center of the pie pan and unfold, whatever is easiest for you.)
  10. Prick the dough all around with a fork. Bake for about 15 to 18 minutes, or until light golden brown. Cool before filling.
  11. Gather your filling ingredients and begin by whisking the yolks in a small bowl. Set these aside.
  12. In the saucepan, combine your water, sugar, corn starch, and salt. Heat this on medium until comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute or until it thickens into a translucent sludge.
  13. Ladle by ladle, add ½ of filling mixture to the bowl of egg yolks, whisking it furiously as you do so.
  14. Once incorporated, add this egg mixture back into the pot of remaining filling mixture. This is called tempering, and prevents the eggs from cooking, and turning into egg chunks
  15. Heat this on low heat for another minute more, then stir in the butter, lemon juice, and zest, incorporating fully. If this mixture is too runny (not the texture of a thick pudding) then you may need to play with chemistry a bit more. I advise taking a tablespoon or two of corn starch and making a rue in a cup, with as little water as possible. Add this to the pie filling mixture, stirring constantly, and heat until it begins to thicken. Immediately remove from heat and stir until it is cool.
  16. Add this to your cooled pie shell and set aside
  17. In your icy bowl, or in the bowl of your standing mixer, beat the egg whites, adding pinches of sugar and cream of tartar as you go, until they form stiff peaks. What does this mean? Try turning the bowl upside down. If it falls out, it is not a stiff peak. However, you cannot magically make this happen. If you have been at this for several minutes, and the peaks simply refuse to rise, add a bit more sugar, and if this doesn’t work, resign yourself to a flat but tasty meringue.
  18. Shovel this atop your pie, being careful not to smash it down. Picture a fluffy cloud. Use the back side of the spoon to create the little points by allowing the meringue to stick and pulling upward.
  19. Place this in the oven at 375 for about 12 minutes, or until the meringue has become a toasty brown at all its highest points.
  20. Cool before serving

This pie is tart, and very lemony. I suggest plating with a sprig of mint, and pairing it with gin. It is excellent as a breakfast dish, minus the gin, of course.

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In this image, you can see that I have made the pies smaller. It is identically the same recipe, doubled, and rather than bake the pie shells in a pie pan, I have merely made them in a greased cupcake tin, paying careful attention to their condition, as they baked.

Official

It is now official.

There will be a 6-part interactive short story collection coming to Tapas soon, as a prelude to usher in the second volume of my life. No doubt, they will announce it soon, but I am leaking the information here and now, in an effort to gain more suggestions for subject matter. My life is quite long and boring, please to furnish me with prompts or O shall be as much the wanderer as I have always been.

You may ask me general questions of my thoughts on given topics, ask where I was when certain events happened, ask me what O dos during periods of time, or what experiences I have had surrounding certain foods. You are far more creative than I.

Your help, in the form of direction, is greatly appreciated.

Each short will be a trifle longer than the average chapter, and each will have a recipe.

Apple Care

“Hello, I seem to have dropped my phone in something-”

“Water.”

“No.”

“Oh! Ok! What? Fire? Sand?”

“Um…no.”

“What then? Chemicals are a different type of damage, sir.”

“Blood.”

“…”

“I dropped it in blood.”

“How much blood?”

“…A lot.”

“…”

“Approximately 11 pints…of blood.”

“Ok, I’m going to refer you to our AppleCare website for water damage-”

“Blood is approximately 6 percent greater density than water.”

“Uhh….have you gotten all the…blood off the phone?”

“Yes, with a thorough alcohol swabbing.”

“And you turned it off right away and removed the SIM?”

“Yes. And I swung it around in a sock.”

“Ooooookay.”

“Centrifugal force. To centrifuge the blood out of the device.”

“Uh right, ok, great! Have you seen the information on placing it in rice?”

“The blood?”

“No sir, the phone.”

“Ah, no.”

“Well, it won’t work as well as plain air. Set the phone on top of a fan, or about two feet from a hairdryer. Have you backed up the device recently?”

“Yes.”

“Great! Then you’re okay. You shouldn’t lose any data.”

“There are worse things to lose.”

“Like blood! Haha!”

“Indeed.”

“Do you mind if I ask how you dropped it into blood?”

“Are these calls recorded?”

“Yes.”

“Then yes I do.”

In case you wonder, my phone is fine. It was stuck in “headphone mode”, but the hair drier did the trick. 

A New Project

My publisher has asked me, in between publications of the volumes of my diary, if I would be interested in compiling a series of stories about incidents from my past. It seemed silly to me, as I do not believe such things are relevant to my experiment. When I registered this concern, however, they replied with an interesting concept: they desire that this new project be interactive, that the audience should be allowed to address these events in their comments, and make requests as to what should be discussed in the next installment.
This intrigues me for many reasons, all of them anthropological. May I make an enquiry of you, my gentle readers?
Does this project interest you? If so, what would you most wish to read in the first installment? Please be aware that I can only write what I have experienced, and thusly, if you ask for my “experience of the war” you will find that I did not participate in the war effort, and my experience was mostly via media. You may ask more general questions, or even ask about recipes. It matters not.

The Dark

In the dark, I often sit. I am not Poe; I do not do this to fulfill some ridiculous idiom of moody sullenness. No, the dark is not dark to me. It is alive and glowing. It falls in shades of gray and gloom, but moves and twitches like a butterfly. It dances in the wind, it sings like the sunset. It is every inch as stunning as the day.

But only to me and mine.

Human sight is myopic, and this is no mere metaphor. You see so very little of your world, and to you that must needs be all there is. Rarely do you give a thought that the universe or the immutable changeable infinitudes of time have anything else to offer. It is not known, and therefore it does not exist.

As I stare into the dark, I feel very very old. Ancient. But what am I saying? What does that mean to you?

It is with regret and something akin to sadness that I look upon my most fervent readers and realize how very young they are. Too young. Young enough to not fully grasp the sting of mortality. You know that death is death, but you stare at it from far away, and cannot fully see it, and so, nay…tis not so. It will not happen.

I bear you no ill will. Your time will come, soon enough that I need not hurry it, and when it does, I will still be here. I will be here, staring into the dark, watching the night things come to life, their eyes seeing as mine do, their nights vivid and churning.

I will be here. Again and again. Over and over. Me.

And to what end? What purpose is there in this? I hear the words of my friends in my thoughts — Porter with his “What else will we do?” Rebecca with her “But you can!” and yet, here I am, and when they are silent…

It will echo in my head. It will play in this dark like a phonograph.

In my time, I cannot count how many I have watched come and go, but there they are, and endless chain of them, and not a one remembered. When I stare into the dark and let my thoughts wander, I see them. This moment, a skein of long hair washed in a pond, the soft hum of a song as she dips her ankles in. She does not see me, and I find her captivating. She goes about her task, and I mine, and now she is a rotting corpse, and here am I, still staring into the moonlight. He drags his horse by the halter, hitting it with a switch he’s but just cut from a tree. He snarls at it, as it snorts and struggles with its swayed back. It is not long for this world, and yet, he carries on, unabashed. I grit my teeth as he wanders by, and wonder what hellish family he returns to. It matters not. They are all dead. That child there, she plays with her wooden dove. She wears a bonnet two sizes too large. She curtsies a homespun dress with a bit of fine edging her mother stole from the rubbish. She drinks dirty water from a bucket and dips her face into it. I worry after her skinny arms. It does not matter, for she too is gone. No one ever learned her name. Not even me.

Much has been asked of me. Many have wondered about my extremes. “What is the worst thing you have seen? What is the worst you have done?” You are all so intent to wallow in muck, because you do not know how truly terrible it can be. I will tell you, if you like, but do not think to come to me when it happens, and you realize the full weight of what I have been saying all along.

The worst I have ever seen. The worst I have ever done. That is simple. I have forgotten.

Humans mourn the names they know. They cannot do anything else. If they mourned all that came before, they would waste away in the oppressive misery of it. But here I am, staring into the dark, singing their requiem with no voice, no words. It is a chain of faces without context, without lineage. To you, these people, these unknown multitudes are but the piles of dirt you must clamor over to catch the next Pokemon. To me they are real. To me, they are still alive, and yet, I know they are not.

When food is scarce, time pitches violently, and my footing slips. I stagger in it, and find that I am not always aware of the era. You find it humorous when I talk of shoveling coal into a burner, or nibbing quills, or stamping paving stones. You find it endearing when I talk of the mundanity that has come and gone, but to me those were the routines and habits of an age that is dead but still living in my breast, it is the conditioning of old. When I am hungry, it returns to me, and I awake with a corpse and a set of fully wound pocket watches, a heart in my jaw to the light of dimmed kerosene lamps, a head in a pot beside a fully kneaded loaf of bread I do not remember having lain by.

These are chains. This is purgatory. I am imprisoned in this repetition.

What is it like to be old? It is very like being young, save that one is maliciously afflicted with perspective. Like leprosy, it chips at you, until you can no longer rush into the fray with a grim smile and a cry of “havoc”. Pieces fall away, as you look around in a daze and wonder why everything has changed when you have not.

You are entertained when I grasp at slang, clutch at memes, wonder aloud at the truly strange and disorienting splendor of the ever-changing flood of information that washes over me every single day. You stare at your screen and chuckle that I should be dazzled by you. It fills you with a sense of importance.

And here I sit, staring into the dark, learning your face as I have every other, inscribing your unutterable name on that list that no one shall ever read.

Here I am. And the dark is alive.