I do have to get to some serious work on this project – but allow me this bit of fun.
I have heard dozens of times during my marriage to Helen’s grandson, Van, about his grandmother’s wonderful, amazing, delicious lemon meringue pies. And this from a guy who’s not that much into food. I have made a lemon meringue pie every few years over the last thirty – and I’m sure they didn’t measure up.
So, I’m reading letter # 13 October 7, 1917.
Young, newly-wed Helen had gotten a letter from her friend, Elsie, who was learning to bake pies.
Helen writes to her mother: “… one of them was lemon meringue. Never mind, some day, some day, I shall attempt a lemon pie.”
Well, first, I can’t really explain what a connection that was – to have a familiarity I have with the “grandmother” Helen to pop out at me from the letter of this very young woman, so far in time from being the grandmother of my husband’s memory. This very ordinary thing, a lemon pie, just becomes extraordinary because who would think you could find her first thought of it from so long ago!
It gets better.
Letter # 15 October 20, 1917
Helen writes to her mother: “Just baked a lemon meringue! Yes, sir and it’s good , too – Alfred said so!”
And – even better – The Recipe !
CRUST: One and 1/2 heaping cups lard, Three cups flour, A little ice water , Salt to taste
FILLING: Mix 3 Tbl. cornstarch and 1 C sugar, Pour over 1C boiling water. Boil until clear.
When slightly cooled, add: 2 Tbls butter, Juice and rind of 1 lemon, beaten yolks of 2 eggs
Cook slightly. Pour this mixture into baked pie crust.
MERINGUE: Mix 1 Tbls powdered sugar with beaten egg whites. Spread over top of lemon mixture, brown in oven for a few minutes.
To beat egg whites – use a pinch of salt.
Anyone interested – we could have a lemon pie contest and see who gets it just right. My husband Van will do the taste test!