Friday, November 23, 2012

Life Is a Lemon Meringue Pie

As a young girl (probably around the time I was the only "squaw" in the kindergarten Indian raiding party) I promised myself I would NOT learn to type or cook. At least I would not publicize  these abilities. My theory was that the male ruling class would force me into a kitchen or a typing pool or both when I wished to be more than that.

I did go through a phase of gourmet cooking in high school. I was trying to get a B in the class but the instructor didn't like the way I measured things. Thus I maintained my reputation. I did, however, cook some great stuff for the family. A bit of Cog au Vin, a little roasted chicken with cream sauce, and a little Lemon Meringue Pie. Always, Lemon Meringue Pie.

I always used the recipe on the Kingsford Corn Starch box.


But as I grew old and wiser, I began to make the pie only on special occasions for the special few. It was Melodie's birthday cake.

So one year I was making the pie at Camp Nelson. The whole family is there. They are ready for this blast from the past. And I learned something.

Don't make the lemon custard in an aluminum pan.

The custard was this amazing color of gray. Shiny, light gray.

Not many people eat gray things.

It tasted great but you had to shut your eyes to eat it. Or go outside in the dark.

Over the years, I lost some of my skill at this particular recipe. Don't know if it was age or the presure of expectations.

One year I forgot the corn starch. Ever had lemon soup. Cold.

One year I forgot the butter.

One year, well, let's not discuss that one.

So it is now a "watch and see if she can do it" event.

This year, I promised the family a lemon meringue pie for our Thanksgiving meal. So, off to the store I went on Black Friday to buy the freshest lemons, fresh corn starch (Kingsford, of course), baker's sugar, fresh eggs and a little cream of tartar.

I come home.

The crust goes swimmingly as I bought the little white ceramic beads to put in the crust while it cooked. No bubbles this year. At least not in the crust.

Then, I carefully, as I was taught in home economics back in high school, measured every ingredient and set them aside in their own containers.

I mixed the ingredients per the old Kingsford recipe (it isn't on their box anymore. I had to go to the internet!)

I cooked the custard patiently and slowly.

It was PERFECT. Tartly sweet with good body.

I beat the egg whites to beautiful stiff peaks. I  added the sugar delicately so as not to deflate the air in the egg whites.

I spread the meringue carefully. Putting gentle peaks which would, if I had done it right, produce sugar beads.

I baked it at the right temperature. For the right amount of time.

I carefully lifted the aluminum pie tin to the top of the stove.


And the back half of the meringue slid off to lodge itself between the stove and the countertop.

A portion did remain behind. On the stove. Begging not to leave such a perfect creation.

After a few minutes of soundless screaming and the spouse offering to clean up (he never does that so he knew how mad I was), I returned to the kitchen.

As I put the salvageable parts   back on the pie and began the clean up, we began to laugh.

Can I PLEASE make a pie that is NOT connected to a good story of how I can't cook!

Please. Please. PLEASE!!!!

Below are the remnants of my effort.

After the major part of the clean up

Back of the pie after reconstruction

The front of the pie. Undamaged. Perfect.

Guess I will try again tomorrow. Melodie wants a lemon meringue pie!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sleeping Alone

Since we rescued her from a puppy mill, Zelda has had a pack. She was the Alpha Female. A title that she and LadyBug would occasionally discuss. Such discussions usually led to time outs in respective cages.

But by the time we moved to the mountains, LadyBug was too old and infirm to discuss the matter anymore. She just didn't care. And I had asserted my Alpha Female rights.

But Zelda had a pack around her. Mohawk and LadyBug were always there. For 10 years.

LadyBug cleaned her face every day. Mohawk always sniffed the other end. Don't ask me why.

When Bug and Mo passed, Zelda began looking for them. Especially at dinner time.

The routine had always been that Zelda ate in her cage (in Grover Beach) or the laundry room (on the mountain) She was served first. LadyBug was in her cage (Grover) or the bathroom (mountain). She was always served second. Mohawk was last and he ALWAYS got the kitchen.

When we first put her food in the kitchen, Zelda would not eat. She ran up the hall and into the bathroom. She finally came back and ate.

She won't sit with me in my chair but she will sit with Mel. Mohawk and LadyBug always sat on my lap for tv time.

She sleeps at the end of the bed refusing to take Mohawk's or LadyBug's place at our side or on the pillows.

She follows either of us around, not letting us out of her sight.

We talk to her alot. We take her for walks and let her sit on the front porch with us.

But the worst, for her has been sleeping by herself in the cat room. It takes her quite awhile to settle down and drop off. And she won't go in the room without one of us.

She misses them more than we do.

She gets lots of attention now. THAT she really, really likes.