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Monday, January 28, 2008

Sunny Skies, Lemon Pies and.....Fruit Flies?

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Last month, I survived my first Daring Bakers challenge. Yes, I finished my Yule Log on time and lived to tell about it. To refresh your memory, I had some major plumbing issues and wasn't able to use the water in my kitchen for the two weeks before Christmas. It was a huge mess, and I almost had to miss the challenge because of it. With twenty-four hours to go before post time, I worked like a madwoman on crack to create that Yule Log from start to finish, decorate it, photograph it and post about it. Holy Mother of God! I'm breaking out in a cold sweat just thinking about it!
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This month's Daring Baker challenge is being hosted by Jen from The Canadian Baker. She chose Lemon Meringue Pie as the subject of the challenge and provided a recipe from Wanda's Pie in the Sky, by Wanda Beaver. I was psyched! I really enjoy LMP and it is one of Mr. SGCC's favorite desserts.
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Since this recipe didn't look to be overly complicated, I felt comfortable waiting a few weeks before I took a shot at it. I needed to let the dust settle (literally) from the Holidays and the unfortunate events leading up to them. Even though I had never made a lemon meringue pie before, I was familiar with the individual components of the recipe which are a shortbread crust, lemon curd and meringue. After all the drama of the last challenge, I was sure that this one would be a breeze.
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About two weeks ago, I woke up to a glorious sunny day. It was cool and bright and dry - perfect for baking and photographing a lemon meringue pie. As I was making my morning coffee, a little black speck whizzed by me. I was still half asleep. I must have imagined.....Wait, there it is again! This time, the speck landed on my cup. It was.....a bug! Ugh! I got another cup and started......Hey! What the......! Another little whizzer just dive-bombed in my coffee! And another one just tried to fly up my nose! Gross!!! I took a look around the kitchen and there were lots more little black flying specks. They were all over the place. And they were fast little buggers too! Most of them seemed to be congregated around the food. Oh shit! Fruit Flies!!!
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Ugly little sucker, isn't he?
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Now, I have to confess that right about then, I was beginning to understand what Job must have felt like.
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After I called the exterminator, and ran around my kitchen swinging a rolled-up newspaper a hundred and fifty times, I started zesting my lemons. So far, so good. Then, I juiced the lemons. Okay.....no, wait.....oh no! Fruit flies in the lemon juice. All right. I. Will. Remain. Calm. I'll just grab a few more lemons and.....uh oh......is that a fruit fly stuck in the butter? Yup. Oh, who was I kidding? That lemon meringue pie was not going to happen. Not that day, anyway.
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I put everything away and did the only thing I could do under the circumstances. I went shoe shopping.
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Later that day, the exterminator explained to me that there really wasn't anything he could do about the fruit flies. (Hmmph!) He said that they probably hitched a ride home with me from the market on the bananas or apples I had recently bought. The offending apples or bananas probably were covered with microscopic fruit fly eggs that had hatched in my kitchen. Lovely! He suggested that I set off a few bug bombs in the house. Of course, I would also have to set off a few more five or six days later after the rest of the eggs had hatched. Wonderful.....and unacceptable. There was no way I was going to fill my house up with clouds of poisonous gas, not once, but twice! There had to be another solution. Believe it or not, the answer was sitting in my Inbox.
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My mother-in-law is always sending me emails with all kinds of fascinating flotsam and jetsam from around the web. Thanks to her, I've learned that Coke can strip the paint off my car, that there are toxic levels of lead in my favorite red lipstick, and that leaving a glass of apple cider vinegar mixed with a little dishwashing liquid on your kitchen counter will get rid of fruit flies.
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I don't know about the first two, but the third one is true. Within an hour of setting out that vinegar concoction, I found at least a dozen drowned fruit flies in the glass. Woo hoo! Success! I figured that if one glass was working so well, three or four would be even better. It took several days, but I am happy to report that my house is now "fruit fly free"!
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With new resolve, I set about conquering that thing which is Lemon Meringue Pie!
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I have to honestly say that everything went pretty smoothly for me while making this pie. My crust came together very nicely. In fact, I thought it was one of the easiest crusts I've ever worked with. The lemon filling was thick and smooth. It looked like liquid sunshine. My egg whites whipped up into gorgeous, billowy white clouds of meringue. I couldn't wait to put it all together and bake it.
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I had read about the trials and tribulations that other DBers had while making this pie. Some had runny lemon curd that refused to set, while others had shrinking or weeping meringue. I was a little nervous, especially about the meringue. I thought for sure that I would have trouble with it. That glorious, sunny day that I spoke about earlier was long gone, replaced with several damp, cloudy and humid ones. Someone up there must have taken pity on me because of the fruit flies, because my meringue was pretty close to perfect. It was beautifully browned, with little swirls and peaks. There was no shrinkage or weeping. I would have liked it to have been a little bit higher, but hey, I wasn't going to complain about that. I could hardly wait to take it outside for pictures!
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Later that evening came the moment of truth. Pretty is as pretty does, but did the pie taste good? I thought it was delicious. The filling had just the right balance of tartness and sweetness, with a true lemon flavor. The meringue was light and fluffy inside, with a tiny bit of chewiness on the outside. Mr. SGCC gave it two thumbs up. Believe me, that isn't faint praise! I would definitely make this one again.
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Lemon Meringue Pie
from "Wanda's Pie in the Sky" by Wanda Beaver
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie
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For the Crust:

3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water


For the Filling:

2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract


For the Meringue:

5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar
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To Make the Crust:
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Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.
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Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.
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Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.
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To Make the Filling:
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Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.
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To Make the Meringue:
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Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.
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Enjoy!

42 comments:

Big Boys Oven said...

oh so beautifully done.... so amazing!

Cakespy said...

This totally cracked me up. Fruit flies! :-)

The second photo (meringue closeup) makes me think of a landscape. Gorgeous!

Deborah said...

I'm glad to hear that there is an easy solution to fruit flies! I will now be afraid to eat any fruit now, though, thinking that there might be fly eggs...

Your pie looks perfect. That meringue is wonderful!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Big Boys Oven- Thank you so much! You're very sweet. :)

Cakespy- Go figure. I thought I was safe after last month! I'm so glad you like the photo. I just adore your illustrations. Such talent!

Deborah- It really does work, but only with apple cider vinegar. I was told to rinse off all of the fruit when I buy it, even the bananas.

I'm glad you like my pie. I've never been a pie lady, but I'm learning.

Gabi said...

Hey- when the going get's tough... the tough go shoe shopping is my motto! I loooove those shoes. drool.
Okay and about that pie-oh my!-beautiful. Thanks for the fruit fly tip-I'll have to remember it next summer when we get hit with them again. (I think they escape from the genetics lab at the U.)
Glad you perservered and made a lovely pie!
xoxo

Brilynn said...

A friend of mine had fruit flies take over her place in the summer. She had some leftover red wine from a party that she put out in little cups with saran wrap overtop with holes poked in it... that worked too.

Glad the pie worked out in the end!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Beautiful pie and great tip! I bring home a lot of fruit from the jungle. i never have lies that back, but I am going to try that, just to see if it may work here! Glad that the pie, at least once you finally made it worked out well for you!

Megan said...

I was so into the fly story I forgot the pie. Good story!

Megan said...

I was so into the fly story I forgot the pie. Good story!

crumblycookie said...

OMG, those shoes are super cute!

And that's a great tip about the fruit flies. I hate them!

Nice job on the pie! It looks so great.

culinography said...

Aaaah! Fruit flies! Way to persevere!! Your pie came out beautifully and your pictures are great!

Kevin said...

Your lemon meringue pie looks really good. Nice photos.

breadchick said...

I love the yellow daffodil next to your lovely pie. Great job on your challenge!

Claire said...

Ive had to deal with fruit flies as well. They are SO annoying and come in droves. Your pie looks wonderful. Glad you enjoyed it.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Gabi- That's my motto too. A girl can't have too many shoes! I'm glad you liked the pie. Thanks for the nice words.

Brilynn- Thanks! I had heard about the wine solution after the fact. I think that they both work because they are both made from fruits. The whole episode was pretty revolting!

Gretchen Noelle- Thank you! I'm glad you liked the pie. You should definitely try the vinegar fix for the flies. It really does work.

Megan- LOL! I'm glad you enjoyed the story. I can enjoy it a lot more now!

Crumbly- Thanks! Yeah, fruit flies are pretty gross. I hope I never have to deal with them again!

Culinography- Thanks! Once the fruit flies were gone, I had fun with the pie. By the way, love your name!

Kevin- Thanks! I'm glad you liked them.

Breadchick. Thank you! That daffodil was a perfect color match, so I plucked it off of the plant on my kitchen table. I'm still learning how to work with props.

Bellini Valli said...

Is that a fruit fly I see in the meringue????...aren't they pesky critters???? I had heard about the apple cider vinegar and have tried it. I swear the population of fruit flies tripled. Perhaps the secret is to add the dishsoap (which I hadn't heard about). Your meringue pie looks gorgeous. So many different looking pies from the DB's I am just amazed!!!

Elle said...

Must remember that 'recipe' to rid yourself of fruit flies...you poor thing...you get a prize for perseverence...and your pie looks drool worthy! Gorgeous!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Claire- Thank you. Your pie looks great too. :)

Bellini Valli- Fruit fly? What? Where? LOL! Actually, the vinegar is what attracts them and the dishwashing liquid traps them and they drown. What a way to go. Ew! Glad you liked my pie. ;)

Cakelaw said...

After the drama of the fruit flies, your pie turned out amazing!! Love the wonderful sunny photo with the daffodil.

javagirlkt's cookin' said...

Your pie looks beautiful! I'm just jealous that your weather actually allows you to take it outside for pictures!!

Nice work :) Your blog is fantastic, I'm glad I stumbled upon it today!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Yeah, hooray for the beautiful lemon meringue pie and for conquering the fruit flies without gas bombs! Awesome shoes - did they come home with you?

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Cakelaw- Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. It actually was a mostly overcast day with short bursts of sunshine. I had to stand outside a long time to catch the sun in the photos! The things we do for our "art"!

Javagirlkt- Thank you! I'm glad you liked the pie, and I'm also glad that you found me. Come visit anytime!

Lynn- I wish! Those shoes are from Christian Louboutin, probably around $1,200. Maybe in another life...

Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you liked the pie.

Tempered Woman said...

Oh my gosh! I SO appreciate the heads up on fruit fly elimination. I refuse to bug bomb too and the little bastards invade my home every darn spring. Thanks!
Oh~ and the pie looks gorgeous too. hah. I really did like the taste too, I was kind of surprised that so many didn't. Thought it was just right balance between tart and sweet. Great job!

Katy said...

gorgeous pie, and good tip on the fruit flies! i'm glad your kitchen is now fly-free!

I(dot)J said...

OMG... is that really what they look like? YIKES!
Even with all of that they still looked great... good job.

Iisha

Candace said...

Hysterical story! You're a trooper to get through it! Lovely result!

Aamena said...

hey thanks for the tip! here in india there are season when fruit flies are just about everywhere everywhere! am surely going to try this!

btw great looking pie!

Veron said...

What a gorgeous pie and the close up is so temptingly delicious! Great tip on handling fruit flies...they are ugggly!

Chris said...

Oh my! I am laughing! Those shoes? Fabulous! As a confessed show-a-holic (http://melecotte.blogspot.com/2007/07/if-it-looks-like-leather-tastes-like.html) I have to say..I must fine them - even if my broken ankle says otherwise.

Jasmine said...

I love the name of your blog--it's so...appropriate :)

Fruitflies...yes. Hate the little things. Once bought a bouquet from the bigscarymegamart for my cubicle...the next day we had a ffly infestation...won't buy bigscarymegamart flowers again.

Beautiful pie piccies and I LOVE the shoes.

j

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Elle- Thank you! I'm just glad I was able to complete the challenge. I felt like Indiana Jones fighting off those stupid flies!

Tempered Woman- The bug bomb was not an option for me. I never realized how common this problem is. The bug man said you should always rinse your fruit right when you get it home from the market.
I'm glad you liked the pie. I really did think the taste was great.

Katy- Thank you! Glad you liked it. I'm glad we're "fly free" too, except I can't wait to see what happens around here for the next DB challenge. Sheesh!

lisha- Yes, they really look like that. Pretty gross, huh? ;)

Candace- Thanks. I am a Daring Baker, after all! ;)

Aamena- Just make sure you put in a few good squirts of dishwashing liquid. That is what traps them in the vinegar. Let me know if it works for you.

Veron- Thank you so much! I really tried to make the shot a little "artsy". I really like it too.

Chris- Yes, those shoes are pretty hot stuff! I'd wait til your ankle heals, though. ;)

Jasmine- I'm so glad you like my name! It just kind of describes all the things I that love about food!

Peabody said...

Oh no about the fruit flies...glad to hear that the concoction worked. And glad you liked the pie.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Your pie is gorgeous!
Your mother-in-law is fabulous.
I'm so glad to know you enjoyed the pie
AND
so glad to know the fruit flies are history!
I'm always happy to know when those old wives tales tricks work!!
Great write up.

bittersweetblog said...

Oh my, I would have freaked out if I had to deal with fruit flies in addition to the challenge. Kudos on handling that, AND coming out with a gorgeous lemon meringue pie in the end!

cookworm said...

Hee, very funny story, and with a household tip as the moral to boot! Glad to hear you conquered the pie without resorting to poisonous gas. :)

Flanboyant Eats said...

Great Post. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it... cute shoE!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Thanks, Peabody. Those fruit flies will think twice before showing their revolting little mugs around here again!

MKIHC- Thank you, thank you, thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

Bittersweet- Thanks! I was a little discouraged at first, but I really wanted to make that pie!

Cookworm- Thanks! I never thought of myself as a violent person, but I had blood in my eye with those suckers!

Flanboyant- Thank you! I'm glad you like the post...and the shoes!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

What a delightfully playful post! And those photos are fantastic! Those fruit flies are tenacious little suckers, aren't they?

Jen Yu said...

Oh you poor thing, I HATE fruit flies! I'm glad you figured out a great trick to rid yourself of them (I'll make a note of that). The pie looks awesome, by the way. Good job!

Lis said...

HAR! What an adventure!! Fakkin fruit flies.. I hope each and every one of them choked on the vinegar before they drowned..

Uhh..

I mean, thanks for the swell tip on how to get rid of the lil buggers! ;)

Your pie turned out gorgeous! Am so happy you loved the recipe!

Beautiful job.. and a great post!
xoxo

Jenny said...

I think the best thing to do when frustrated is to leave the kitchen and go shoe shopping. OMG shoes!

I'm glad you stuck with it though, and thanks for the tip on fruit flies!

Dolores said...

I never fail to learn as I read through everyone's experiences with our monthly challenges. Now if I even encounter a fruit fly infestation, I know how to handle it.

I'm glad you were able to resolve your issues quickly, and go on to make such a gorgeous LMP.