Ready or Not #83: Lemon Meringue and Pecan Pie

As a child, one of the first things that I ever baked was a pie – a cherry pie.  I was about eight years old and it was my dad’s birthday and he didn’t like cakes, but he loved pies.  In our family we didn’t bake birthday cakes.  We made birthday pies instead.  Now that I am older, I like to eat both pies and cakes; it doesn’t feel right to discriminate.  Unfortunately the only way that I can make a decent cake is out of a box.  I’m not ashamed of that fact, I just know that if it is going to be edible then it will either be bought from the store or I will have to open a box and add three eggs.

I really don’t mind my cake making shortcomings because I can make really good pies – we all have our talents.  It is certainly convenient this time of year to have a good, easy to make pie recipe with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner.  My favorite pie is Lemon Meringue, except for Rhubarb pie, I LOVE hot Rhubarb pie ala mode!  My husband’s favorite pie is apple pie; my daughter’s is the cherry pie; and my son loves pecan pie so much that he will go out back, pick the pecans and shell them so that I will make one for him – and I do.

I like these recipes not only because they taste good, but because they are easy to make and they are all food storage friendly.

Lemon Meringue
1 ½ cups sugar                                        3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. cornstarch              2 tsp. grated lemon peel (optional, but kind of fun)
1 ½ cups water                                        ½ cup lemon juice (I like the RealLemon brand)
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten                    2 drops yellow food color

Meringue
3 egg whites                         6 Tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. cream of tartar            ½ tsp. vanilla

Mix sugar and cornstarch in medium saucepan.  Gradually stir in water.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils.  Boil and stir 1 minute (not one second less).  Gradually stir ½ of the hot mixture into the egg yolks.  Blend mixture back into the rest of the hot mixture in the pan.  Boil and stir for a full additional 1 minute for an 8” or 9” pie and a full 2 minutes for a 10” pie.  Remove from heat.  Stir in rest of ingredients.  Pour into baked pie shell.

For the meringue, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy.  Beat in sugar slowly 1 tablespoon at a time.  Beat until stiff and glossy.  Don’t under beat.  Beat in vanilla.  Put the meringue on the pie and use the back of a spoon to make the swirly tips by pressing the back of the spoon onto the meringue and lifting it up quickly.  Make sure that the meringue is touching the pie crust so that the meringue doesn’t shrink.  Bake at 400 º for about 10 minutes or until meringue tips are a beautiful golden brown.   (Don’t stress if you get those little puddles of sugar on the meringue a day or two later.  It still tastes good and there are way too many other important things to worry about – like having a bad hair day or a run in your last pair of nylons).

Pecan Pie
Beat 3 eggs thoroughly with 2/3 cup sugar, dash salt, 1 cup light or dark corn syrup (Hint: spray your measuring cup with Pam first and the corn syrup will just slide out without any scraping) and 1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted.

I just throw it all in the blender and blend it for just a few seconds, just long enough to mix it.  Spread about 1-cup pecan halves or pieces in the bottom of a 9” unbaked pastry shell and pour the liquid over the pecans (they will rise to the top).  Bake in moderate oven, about 350º, for about 50 minutes or till knife inserted halfway between the center and the edge comes out clean.   Cool and eat.  So rich and yummy – and easy!

Remember to refrigerate any leftover pie – assuming you would actually have leftover pie (for maybe a half an hour or so).  Remember:  most, if not all, of my recipes are kid friendly – so get them cooking!

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