This post is about my Grandma’s Easy Lemon Meringue Pie, an easy-to-make version of an old favourite dessert. But more than that, it’s a story about the relationship I had with my Grandma.
Lemon Meringue Pie remains one of my best-loved desserts. I make it quite often for my family and when I entertain guests. It’s my son’s favourite. And every time I make Grandma’s Easy Lemon Meringue Pie it reminds me of her and the times we spent together when I was growing up.
You’ll find my Grandma’s recipe for Easy Lemon Meringue Pie, as well as her recipe for Easy Pastry, at the end of this post.
It’s amazing how food, food preparation and dining bring people together.
Certain food or dishes (and their aromas) elicit memories of people, places and shared experiences. My Mum wrote about these things in Auntie Dulcie and the Bung-in Cake (April 14, 2016). When she was a little girl, her auntie showed her how to bake beautiful cakes, including Dulcie’s signature Bung-in Cake (April 14, 2016). Years later, the Bung-in Cake is still one of my Mum’s all-time favourite recipes.
I must have been in my teens when Grandma showed me how to make her delicious Easy Lemon Meringue Pie.
At the time, I used to visit her and Granddad on my way home from school at least once a week. On Fridays I finished school at midday. While most of my high school friends went to work (at McDonald’s for example) or went home and watched something on TV, I would have lunch with my grandparents. It was during these visits that Grandma showed me how to cook all sorts of wonderful things (and her Easy Lemon Meringue Pie).
Grandma was an excellent cook and a good teacher.
An experienced home cook, Grandma happily shared her knowledge, skills and her love of cooking with me. She was ever so patient. She would show me a recipe, explain what to do and give a demonstration. Then she would let me have a go. That’s how I learnt. I clearly remember her showing me how to make her Easy Lemon Meringue Pie. She taught me how to separate eggs using only the egg shell, create an amazingly designed meringue top, and prepare pastry which required the techniques of kneading and rolling.
What I really appreciate is the time Grandma and I spent together.
Whenever I visited, I felt special, welcome. I never felt I was intruding or that I was a bother. Grandma always had time for me, quality time. This was her gift to me. It said to me: “You are important to me. I love you. I like being with you.” Grandma always made me feel like I was the most important person in the world: much loved and treasured. My emotional bucket was filled to the brim with joy.
Because my grandmother and I spent lots of time together, we developed a special bond.
Doing things together (like cooking) helped us to build a relationship on a personal level where we both felt comfortable to share our innermost thoughts and feelings.
I recall fondly the times Grandma patiently listened to my ups and downs, especially during my high school and university days. Grandma never gave advice. That was not her style; she just listened.
In turn, my grandmother opened up to me. I came to understand a little of her thoughts, fears and life experiences. She told me about her early life, her schooldays and her family, the dances she attended as a young woman, and how she met Granddad at a dance in Brisbane during the war years. What I didn’t realize at the time, Grandma was sharing with me our family history.
My grandmother was 60 years old when I was born. Ours was a large age gap, but that didn’t matter.
I always felt close to her. I can’t remember a time when Grandma was not a part of my life. She helped me celebrate my important milestones and I was a part of many of hers too. I helped her celebrate her 80th birthday with family and friends in Rockhampton and 10 years later, in Brisbane, her 90th birthday. By the time she turned 90 I was married and my husband and I were expecting our first child (much to her delight).
Grandma was with me when I started primary school, at the completion of my secondary schooling (including my school formal), through my University years and when I took up my first teaching position. She was present at my wedding and helped me celebrate the birth of each of my three children. In 2008, when I gave birth to twin girls she was so thrilled. She had been praying for a great-granddaughter (she already had four great-grandsons) and the Lord gave her not one, but two dear little girls!
Whenever I think about Grandma (she died in 2011, at 95), I can’t help but shed a few tears.
I have so many treasured memories of her. I miss her. She was such a gentle soul, unassuming, warm, kind and sincere. And I know that she loved me. Grandma’s Easy Lemon Meringue Pie is my constant reminder.
She made her Easy Lemon Meringue Pie with hands of love, spoonsful of smiles, cups of kisses and oversized portions of hugs!
Grandma’s Easy Lemon Meringue Pie, as its name suggests, is easier to make than the traditional version. And it’s much creamier too. The secret: It contains sweetened condensed milk! Everyone loves sweetened condensed milk. The sweetness of the milk and the sourness of the lemon make a sensational combination for the taste buds. And the luscious light sweet meringue topping complements the smooth texture of the lemon filling.
In addition, Grandma showed me how to make a really easy sweet pastry for this pie. If you are busy like me, you probably buy ready-made pastry from the freezer department at the supermarket. Or you may buy a fresh ready-made pastry case from the bakery.
However, I recommend you try Grandma’s Easy Pastry recipe as the pastry base for your Easy Lemon Meringue Pie. My Mum vouches for this recipe. Why?
Grandma’s Easy Pastry is:
- simple to make, and it always works
- sweet but not too sweet
- light but firm, not crumbly, and crusty on the edges.
Unlike shortcrust pastry, this easy pastry does not require kneading or resting. In fact, the soft dough requires very little handling prior to rolling on a well-floured surface.
I’m sure you’ll love my Grandma’s Easy Lemon Meringue Pie as much as I do.
EASY LEMON MERINGUE PIE
1 cooked pastry case
1 tin (400 g) sweetened condensed milk
grated rind of 1 lemon
½ cup (60 mL) lemon juice
4 tablespoons caster sugar (for meringue)
- Grate rind of 1 lemon. Juice lemons to make ½ cup lemon juice.
- Separate eggs.
- Add egg yolks, lemon rind and lemon juice to condensed milk and beat until smooth.
- Add mixture to pastry case and spread evenly. Set aside.
- Beat egg white on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until sugar is dissolved.
- Pile meringue roughly on top of the lemon filling. Spread gently to cover.
- Place in a slow oven for 5-7 minutes, or until the meringue is lightly browned.
- Allow pie to cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
Source: Evelyn Proposch (“Grandma”)
Makes 2 pastry cases
60 g butter or margarine
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup (60 mL) milk
1½ cups (170 g) Self Raising flour
- Heat together butter, sugar and milk and stir to blend.
- When butter is melted, remove mixture from stove and stir in beaten egg.
- Add the flour to the mixture. Add extra flour if necessary to make a workable dough. (It is a fairly soft dough.)
- Halve the dough to make two medium-size pastry cases.
- Roll thinly onto floured baking paper, then invert over a lightly greased and floured pastry plate.
- Trim edges with a sharp knife. Using a fork, prick the dough on the base of the pastry case.
- Repeat for the second pastry case.
- Bake in a moderate oven about 10 minutes, or until pastry cases are lightly brown.
- Allow pastry cases to cool completely before adding the filling.
Source: Edna Becker (via Evelyn Proposch)
RESOURCES FOR PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS
The 5 Love Languages of Your Family. (2015). Gary Chapman and Dr Ross Campbell. Moody Press.
Grandparenting: Ain’t it grand. (2016). Judith Salecich. Online: https://judithsalecich.com/aint-it-grand/
Dida’s Caramel Slice. (2016). Judith Salecich. Online: https://judithsalecich.com/didas-caramel-slice/
Creative Grandparenting: How to love and nurture a new generation. (2011). Judy Schreur, Jerry Schreur, Erin Schreur. Discovery House Publishers.
Being a Grandparent ain’t for Wimps. (2009). Karen O’Connor. Harvest House Publishers.
Extreme Grandparenting: The ride of your life. (2007). Tim Kimmel, Darcy Kimmel. Tyndale House Publishers.
How to be a better grandparent: Tips on Building Great Relationships with your Grandkids. Online: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/grandparenting/how-to-be-a-better-grandparent.htm