Lemon Meringue Pie

Last night, I was fortunate enough to have dinner with my husband and a few of our good friends. The requested dessert… Lemon Meringue Pie, of course!

Of all the recipes I could’ve used, I stuck closely to my mother’s homemade version; but instead of using a double boiler, I took the risk of making “lemon filling” directly in the saucepan. Stirring constantly the ingredients combined beautifully, as my husband watched in amazement.

To this day, he is amused by the thickening agent, corn starch. I’ve used the product in many pies over the years, but it never ceases to amuse him. He also learned that egg yolks are the main cause of lemon filling’s color, not lemon juice. Lemon juice adds flavor mostly, while grated lemon peel provides flavor and texture. Once the pie crust was baked and the filling was finished, I poured the filling into the crust and began working on the meringue.

Much to my surprise, I had run out of Cream of Tartar, a necessary ingredient for making anything with the word, “meringue” in it. I immediately sent my husband to the nearest grocery store who shortly called and said, “Honey, they are out of it too.” he continues on to the next grocery store until finally he found the treasured little spice box. During this entire ordeal, he kept saying, “Cant you use Meringue Powder?” Please, please, please don’t make the mistake of thinking meringue powder could ever replace Cream of Tartar. It is simply a replacement for Egg Whites.Continue reading →

The Dog Days of Winter: Ham & White Sauce Recipe

Gingko and snowTypically, the Midsouth is the last place you would expect snow to fall. By this time, we are already getting our gardens ready for spring. Lilies begin to grow, roses start budding again, turnip green seeds are broadcasted and even weeds pop their heads out of the dirt for some sunshine. This is not the case for this year, 2011. We’ve had more snow than ever! Christmas Day, we had snow! Again in January! Now, February! God has blessed us with a white winter and those of us in the South who’ve never seen one should be grateful! (Now, you know why people further North don’t stop and say “Hi” to just anyone like we do in the South….it’s too cold!!! Don’t misunderstand it! They aren’t being rude. They are simply trying to keep warm.) For those of you who can’t wait to plant, WAIT! You can start your seeds indoors at the end of February and in March. Planting season will begin in Mid-March and April for outdoor plants or to transplant seedlings. Make sure to clear out your beds before planting by raking up any leaves and using a scuffle or action hoe to remove any weeds and to till the dirt up a bit. For larger gardens, many people use a mechanical tiller, but for the small gardens I work with using a hoe is easier. I also recommend adding some topsoil to your beds after removing weeds. Personally, I also put down Preen and Miracle Gro Plant Food and rake it into the soil. This helps get the soil ready for planting. Preen helps prevent further weed growth and the Miracle Gro helps provides nutrients that aren’t always found in the hard clay soil found in our area. (For those of you who are living in KS, our planting season is in April and these methods work for you as well. Kansas also has hard clay soil, but the composition of clay is different.) In the meantime, stock up on these items when you can and enjoy the warmth of the indoors during this snowy season.  This winter is mighty cold, but it’s made my time at home very special. Continue reading →