Lemons for a Great Cause

I used to hate Lemon Meringue Pie. It always reminded me of Lemsip, an over-the-counter lemon-flavoured cold medicine that always makes me instantly vomit.
I didn’t realise at the time that not all Lemon Meringue Pies came out a packet and that the curd wasn’t just a reconstituted custard flavoured with a peculiar lemon flavoured capsule of oil. When faced with such atrocities as a child, it’s easy to understand now why so many British people are still squeamish about trying new and different foods. If it isn’t flavoured by an innocuous capsule or powder, it must be feared.
Fear of food is something that must be overcome as soon as you are in the position to take charge of your own kitchen (or someone elses) lest you should end up refusing to try anything that doesn’t look good. Regular readers of this blog will have seen us chart the many new things that I have previously been squeamish about but tried anyway and then added to our regular menus. The best way to do this is to become almost intimately acquainted with your ingredients. By intimate, I mean being able to discuss personal medical problems without blushing, not just leaving the desperately odd message on MySpace accounts saying “Yeah, uh, how’s things? Remember me? You bought me reduced in the supermarket? So, yeah, I’m now residing at the bottom of your freezer. It’s pretty lonely here so if you get the time, drop by and say hi!”
Of course, I don’t actually sit and discuss my latest toenail fungal infection with a packet of chicken breasts (although, there was that one time with William when we discussed the merits of Andy Warhol as a filmmaker and whether he really was better than Dawson Leary – it could have ended up in fisticuffs had I not submerged him in brine), what I really mean is to know your animals heritage, the farm it comes from, whether it was intensively reared or lived the life of Riley on a farm. If you buy apples, do they come from a local farm shop just up the road or are they shipped from hundreds of miles away?
Whilst these questions seem like just one more thing to have to worry about in a life already fraught with discord and stress, shopping locally can actually prove to be a worthwhile and rewarding pastime. I have no doubt that most people that write food blogs find it no hardship to visit local food emporiums anyway but if it stops us from getting one step closer to the terrifying reality of eating food flavoured by capsules or that have concerning directions on the packaging that simply say “Just Add Water” then it’s got to be worth it.
With that in mind, here is my own Lemon Meringue Pie, culled from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather. Her version, individual tarts with 3 inch high spiky meringue, are called Lemon/Lime Texas Big Hairs, the Big Hair obviously referring to the spikes. I wanted to make a large tart instead so used a slightly different sweet shortcrust. I also made a small one for photographic purposes, cute isn't it? Note that my own Big Hairs were much like my own hair, sort of flat and lacking body. I think I didn't whisk the meringue for long enough but it still tasted great!
I had run out of limes so had to make an all lemon curd. I used to think that Lemon Curd was incredibly difficult to make, something about the word 'curd' conjures up hours of stirring. Actually, it couldn't be further from the truth. Simply whisk together sugar, egg yolks (reserving the whites for the meringue), the zest and juice of several lemons over a double boiler, then leave to cook in the most gentle manner, for about 40 minutes, stirring only occasionally. Leave to cool completely, after which it will thicken up to a wobbly spoon dropping consistency. Not only can this luscious yellow curd be used in a tart, you can also use it to make a wonderful ice cream, serve it on scones, stir it through muesli or just eat it straight from jar.
I'm not going to list out the recipe here, suffice it to say, you should already own Rebecca Rather's Cookbook anyway. It is one of my personal favourites and every recipe is a winner.



There is also a serious side to this slightly irreverent post. This is my entry for Barbara, over at Winos and Foodies great awareness raising event, LiveSTRONG:


"LIVESTRONG Day is the Lance Armstrong Foundation's (LAF) grassroots advocacy initiative to unify people affected by cancer and to raise awareness about cancer survivorship issues on a national level and in local communities across the country. LIVESTRONG Day 2007 will occur on Wednesday, May 16"

This particular event goes much deeper than just making an attractive piece of food, photographing and blogging about it. We all know someone who is currently suffering from cancer, has died from it or (hopefully) has made a full recovery. Whilst great leaps are taken every day to cure every type of cancer, it seems that there is always obstacles that cancer sufferers have to work through. Every case of cancer is entirely individual and it is essential that we are do whatever we can to help our loved ones through their pain and suffering. One in three of us will contract a form of cancer so we also need to be vigilant in keeping ourselves healthy: doing regular self-examinations, giving up smoking, using high SPF lotions when out in the sun and nagging at doctors if you feel that something just isn't right. Prevention is the best form of cure but many cancers can be treated if caught very early on.

So, if you haven't yet made your yellow dish and blogged about it, do it today and don't forget to scoot over to Barb's site on the 16th May to coincide with LiveStrong Day and read everyone's amazing posts!

30 comments:

Gemma said...

I too have a childhood phobia of lemon meringue pie, must try it again though. This looks fab, I need to get my yellow food sorted next week for this very worthy event.

Gemma x

Susan said...

Lemons. They make you want to pucker up and....kiss someone. Feel the fear and do it anyway - bake a lemon pie, that is -- not just kiss ANYBODY!

Anonymous said...

Do you put cream of tartar in your meringue. It helps immensely in the stiffening process. mother in the country who abdicated from good ole England.

Joyce said...

Lovely lemon dish.
The simple things are often the best things.

And to speak to the cancer issue; more education regarding prevention is long overdue.
Why wait to get it?

Spoken by a cancer survivor.

Kelly-Jane said...

Your Big Hairs look fabulous! I don't think I've ever eaten lemon meringue pie, I wonder if it is the really sour lemsip connection, you could be onto something there.

My hubby who is pretty resolutle in his disinterest of my cookbook collection, actually said he'd like to try the big hairs! and I'd forgotten. Oh dear.

You might know already Rebecca has a new book out in September:

The Pastry Queen Christmas: Big-hearted Holiday Entertaining, Texas Style - sounds great.

I'm going to do something with bananas for the event - I'm just not quite sure what yet.

Cheryl said...

You pie looks darn good to me. Embrace the lemon meringue pie, love the lemon meringue pie.

Little Foodie said...

Mmm.. delicious! Done it again Freya. Well done also for speaking so eloquently about cancer. Unfortunately it's knocked our family sideways a few times so I tend to touch on it and skirt off again damn quick. Having small ones that does it I think. One big salute from the Little Foodies household! x

Brilynn said...

I always seem to have problem with overwhipping or underwhipping eggwhites. Your tart looks very tasty, big hair or no.

Garrett said...

Nice entry! I can't wait to get around to baking mine!

Chris said...

Wonderful post Freya...Thanks for baking this!

pom d'api said...

WAOU!!! An very big compliments for Freya. This tarte is very wonderful. I love that

joey said...

Egg whites and me are not too comfy together...can never get them just right. Your pie looks lovely, big hair or no! :) I have a mop of curly hair which I wish were flatter...sigh...grass is always straighter on the other side of the fence...

Ulrike said...

That looks and sounds great. In my whole life I had no luck with meringue

Margaret said...

Lemon meringue takes ages to make, and minutes to devour!!

Lydia said...

Maybe we all had too many bad lemon meringue pies in our childhood, but I still can't bring myself to eat one. Of course I've never tried to make one myself....so maybe now's the time!

Culinary Cowgirl said...

One of my favorites...it just looks fabulous!

tigerfish said...

I've always seen lemon meringue pie in pastry/pie shops but I never have the urge to try it. Maybe there are just too many other pies to choose from and I'm a savory-freak!
Think it's time for me to try something new and different too :D

Katie said...

You didn't say what William's opintion was...or was the comment too salty?
Lovely pie/tart. Lemon Merangue wal always my favorite - from scratch and made by my mother, of course.

gilly said...

Wonderful entry! I think of all pies, lemon meringue has to be one of my all time favourites!

valentinA said...

A succulent dessert for a good cause. Well done Freya!

JennDZ said...

Wow, that pie sounds delicious! I love lemon curd. It is just so tart and refreshing!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Freya, I have a 13-year-old sister (who's my little princess and will be my little princess until she's 60, I don't care) and her favorite dessert is lime meringue pie - I know that if I make this for her she'll have it all by herself! It looks fabulous!

P.S.: Limes are much more common here than lemons.

Helene said...

Guess who's on her way to your house...me! My favorite...hands down: lemons!!
Just gorgeous!

Shaun said...

Freya, love - The lemon and lime curd sounds intriguing, but I tend to like my citrus kept separate...I love a good lemon meringue pie, and yours looks absolutely delicious. It makes me want to make curd and perhaps even one of Tamasin's curd tarts. Incidentally, her show Tamasin's British Classics is now being shown on tv in New Zealand.

Amy said...

Beautiful pie! I've been meaning to make lemon curd for a long time, I even have a bag of lemons on the counter. You've reinspired me to make it. I would probably just eat it straight. ;)

Chubbypanda said...

Hear hear! Local, organic, and free-range are the way to go.

Peabody said...

A wonderful contribution.

Kristen said...

This is a great contribution. Your meringue looks lovely!

sandi @ the whistlestop cafe said...

My 'yellow' post was on limoncello cheesecake. It looked almost as good as your lemon meringue pie.

Lemon is the perfect LiveStrong ingredient.

Barbara said...

You didn't send me a link to this and I've just discovered it. Looks fab. Thanks, I'll add it to the round up.