Friday, March 04, 2011

Box of California

Opening shot: Woman bundled in warm clothes opens front door of house. Snow is piled up everywhere. She picks up a package left on the doorstep and carries it inside. Using a pairing knife, she slits the tape. She carefully folds back the flaps of the box. A golden glow eminates from the inside, bathing her in a mystical, warm, yellow light. (Think Pulp Fiction here.) She reaches in and pulls out a ...
Meyer lemon. This is California. Memories rush by. Our first rental house on the Bay had a Meyer Lemon tree laden with fruit year round, the sweet citrus scent so different than a regular lemon. And the life so short once picked.
So here I was with my box of California gold. The clock is ticking. What do I make? I have a whole file of Meyer Lemon recipes. Which one would do these beauties justice? Meyer Lemon marmalade with vanilla bean,? Mm that would be good but you have to do that whole sterilized jar thing. Meyer Lemon curd? Yes, delicious, a worthy option. I googled for a few more ideas and found it. The Shaker lemon pie. The pie uses the whole lemon, not a thing wasted but the pips. What better winter dessert to make than a sunny lemon pie!
 I found a version I like (there are plenty) on my friend Megan's website Shaker Lemon Pie. I trust Megan who is also Marge, a classic American bakery and forged ahead.
I sliced the lemons by hand with a very sharp knife. I should have used my mandoline but I didn't want to dig it out from the back of the cabinet. Then I poured sugar over them and let the lemon and sugar mixture sit on the counter for 24 hours. I would wander by every now and then and gaze longingly at them and give them a stir. And sigh.
The next day I tackled the pie crust. I am not a baker. Pet Ritz makes a fine pie crust. But again I trusted Megan and followed her recipe. I made it in the food processor and pulled it out when it was just starting to come together. I had my doubts. This would never stay together to roll out. I chilled it. Later I took it out of the fridge and began the scary task of rolling it out. Somebody share with me how you get that perfect circle when you roll it out! I get a raggedy edge misshapen thing. I kept rolling, swearing that it would never be large enough for my pie dish. My family steered clear of me while I muttered things about Megan and pies and making angry phone calls.
 I added some eggs, flour and butter to the filling and poured it into the shell. To my suprise I was able to crimp the edges and hide a few things and make a pretty darn good looking pie.

It was delicious. We ate while it was still warm. I closed my eyes and imagined myself on my deck in California, with the breeze carrying the scent of salt water and Meyer lemon blossoms. Thanks Dan and Liz for the box of California!


  1. Beautiful pie, Lisa!
    Mine are never perfectly round either...doesn't matter in the end, huh?

    California misses you!

  2. We miss you!! And that pie looks so yummy, hmmmm, maybe I should make one too. So glad you liked the lemons!! I'm still waiting for my box of snow. HAHAHAHAHA.

  3. Wow - how beautiful is that pie! I can practically taste it - actually I had one of Megan's and it was fabulous too!
    PS for a much more mundane use for your lemons - but lengthens their life - make Meyer lemon ice cubes! Pure juice in your ice tray, when frozen, pop into a double zip lock bag and use all year!xo Cathy

  4. I'm salivating.. yum. Miss you guys and the gourmet club. It's not the same without you guys.

  5. Elizabeth S9:01 AM

    Yum is right! Lemon ice cubes sound great too!
    As for rolling round crusts, keep folding in the edges as you roll to get that desired perfect round, but it looks like you got it just right! Beautiful! Wish I could comment on delicious too. Miss you all!