Friday, November 14, 2014

Lemon Meringue Pie: 4 Years in the Making

When Andrew and I first started dating I was a TERRIBLE cook. If the smoke alarm was going off, you knew I was in the kitchen. I ruined just about every pot in the kitchen we were renting, and managed to undercook, overcook, char, and ruin just about any recipe I tried. Seriously. I had a rough go of it for awhile.

With persistence and sweet encouragement from Andrew, my culinary skills have evolved over our 4 years together. In fact, the lemon meringue pie is a perfect testimate to my improved culinary abilities.

Andrew's favorite dessert is lemon meringue pie. It is THE only thing he wants for his birthday. Every year. He couldn't possibly have a regular, flour cake drenched in icing with colorful sprinkles scattered over the top. Nope. He wants the most challenging pie in the history of pies.

So, what does any good girlfriend, fiance & wife do?!?! She attempts to bake this challenging pie each and every birthday. And thanks to my lack of culinary skills, I have successfully ruined it each and every year, EXCEPT for this year! I also, for whatever reason, have used a different recipe every single year. This may or may not have lead to all the mistakes. Here's how the story goes...

YEAR 1: Runny Meringue

We had been dating for 4 months when Andrew's birthday rolled around. I just so happened to be in Newport waiting for a boat delivery south. We were living at Andrew's sister's house and of course I didn't really "know" my way around her kitchen, or any kitchen other than a boat galley for that matter. I also had no idea at all how hard it was to make a lemon meringue pie. If I remember correctly, the pie crust and lemon filling were fine. When it came to the meringue, I realized I hadn't bought cream of tartar. Big uh-oh. Andrew suggested we use cream (not at all like cream of tartar btw), which we had plenty of, and as you can imagine, the meringue was more like runny egg whites mixed in with some cream & sugar. Fail #1.

YEAR 2: Seeds

Year #2 we were living in Newport in a rented, fully furnished apartment and again, I was waiting for a boat delivery south and had time on my hands to bake. I decided to try my hand again at the pie, thinking this time I just needed cream of tartar and I would be golden. The problem was that I decided to make the pie gluten free. Big mistake. First off, the "crust" was the meringue and you needed a chistle to break it.  As Andrew attempted his second bite, he got this funny look on his face. He grinned, spit out two seeds, and said, "It's so good babe!". We proceeded to laugh until we cried.
Fail #2.

YEAR 3: Looks can be deceiving

By last year my lemon meringue pie was the running joke and the highlight of Andrew's birthday. I was determined to at least make this year's pie edible, being his 40th and all. We'd been in our house for a few months and I was starting to get this cooking thing under control. I was no longer setting off smoke alarms, and my dinners finally tasted as good as Andrew's cooking. I felt confident. I picked a new recipe that did in fact include gluten goodness and proceeded to follow each and every step to a T. I poured the filling, whipped up the meringue with large peaks & placed it in the oven to bake. It was a beautiful pie. I was ecstatic that I had finally gotten it right.

I sent my friend Meriah home with a slice that night and Andrew & I settled in on the couch to enjoy my first successful lemon meringue pie. We both took a bite and immediately looked at each other with big eyes. That damn pie was the chewiest thing EVER - it was like we were eating a sugar daddy. I could not believe it. I immediately texted Meriah and said "Don't eat the pie. Wait until next year."

That saying, "Third times a charm"…bullshit.

YEAR 4: Success!!

And finally, this year, with a new recipe that promised a no fail pie from the "Not So Humble Pie" blog, I mastered the lemon meringue pie. The crust was store bought (shh, don't tell). The filling was lemony and contained no seeds or chewiness. The meringue was fluffy, white and perfect. It could be a bit better, but god knows it could not be worse!!

I am proud of this pie, there is no doubt. It has become the running joke and I am glad to have finally tackled the challenge.  But I have to admit that I am sad as well. Sad that we will not fall over laughing on the floor over seeds, or think that cream will be a great substitute for cream of tartar.

I guess there is always next year:)

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