Notes from Sue:
I spent a few days in Sonoma County last week with Debbie. We were loving the gorgeous spectrum of yellows bursting forth.
Above, yellow mustard blooms between the barren vines just outside of Sebastapol.
In Glen Ellen, we spotted these daffodils popping up next to the sidewalk.
Acacia trees were in glorious yellow bloom along the county's many winding country roads.
And a personal favorite of mine as well as one of the most spring charming flowers could be spotted in early bedding stages on public street corners and in private gardens.
Yellow primroses...love them!
And then there was:
Oops! No, we shot that the week before in Palm Springs where it's already looking like summer. Us Northerners have to wait for our summer yellows. Now, back to early spring...
Guess what else is yellow and happening this time of year?
Yep, lemons. And these are none other than my favorite, Meyer lemons.
Debbie has two new little Meyer lemon trees in their plastic pots just picked up from the nursery and ready to be tucked into their beds in her garden. Each little tree has half a dozen plump yellow lemons fully grown. Oh, if only I could grow lemons in Tahoe!
I guess I'll have to get my Meyer lemons from the market. After all, it's the season for lemon meringue pie, a popular favorite in our family.
If you're a beginner cook, here's a tip. Use the tried and true recipe on the Kingsford's Corn Starch box. It works every time and tastes great. I've tried dozens of other versions over the years, but things go wrong with all of them.
Having said that...
the Kingsford's recipe is not exactly the Slow Foodies way, so if you prefer the higher road, I'm going to share my all-time best tasting lemon meringe recipe from Edna Lewis' "The Taste of Country Cooking". Debbie likes to partner it with her adapted Silver Palate pie dough recipe, below.
Debbie's Favorite Pie Crust Recipe
•2 1/2 cups flour
•2 t sugar
•1 t salt
•1 stick butter
•6 T shortening
•5-6 T ice water
Put everything except the ice water in a Cuisinart and pulse about ten times until mixed. Add the ice water one tablespoon at a time, pausing to pulse after each addition. Pour the dough onto the counter top and pat quickly into two balls with minimal handling. Wrap each in wax paper and refrigerate 30 minutes. Roll each ball between two pieces of wax paper. If the dough edges get ragged or torn, fold them back into the dough to make a neat circle and roll a little more.
I find that Edna Lewis' filling recipe is pretty skimpy for a pyrex pie dish, which is what I happen to use. I like to double the recipe and I've done this for you below. I'm just warning you that you might have a little extra filling (poor you!)
Edna Lewis' Filling
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1 cup lemon juice strained
- 2 T butter
- 10 egg yolks, beaten
Put sugar, salt water and lemong juice into a saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar disolves. Add butter. Beat yolks in a bowl. Pour some of the hot mixture into yolks stirring to prevent curdling. Then pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan and cook carefully stirring continuously until the contents becomes transparent and definitely coats the spoon. Cool. Note: I see hand-written notes in my cookbook that I have at times had to add corn starch to get the mixture to thicken enough. Remember, I warned you this was trickier! You may find that it takes a very long time to thicken up. I find that I have to stir beyond the point of belief that it will ever thicken before it does actually thicken.
- 4 egg whites
- 3 Tsugar
- 1 t vanilla
Put the egg whites on a plattter and beat them with a wire whisk until foamy (Or, go the easy route. I use my KitchenAid mixer. Edna is a Southern old-school purist!) Add sugar and beat until whites hold in stiff peaks. Add vanilla and spoon the meringue onto the filling. Important: spread until all yellow is covered or the meringue will shrink and look unattractive. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven until lightly browned about 15 minutes.
If you have problems with your meringue, all I can say is welcome to the bafflingly uncertain never-the-same-twice world of lemon meringue pie without Kingsford's! I will, however, guarantee you that whatever problems you have, this pie will taste amazing. Oh, and speaking of problems, it is best to eat this pie right after you make it because it tends to ooze if it sits around for long, which can be somewhat unattractive. Eat it while it is warm and gorgeous.
It really does taste amazing, though!
Just for fun, I thought I'd end this with one of my mom's watercolor paintings of a Sonoma County mustard field.
Mom, you've done yellow proud!
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