I was determined that the next tin of condensed milk would NOT go directly into my mouth and I would use it for a lemon meringue. (I can’t call it a lemon meringue pie – why do they call it a pie? It should be called a tart – it is tart afterall!)
Anyway I’ve never made a lemon meringue anything before. I know there’s a way with proper lemon curd, but I’d also heard of a condensed milk shortcut way. I’m into shortcuts so I went off looking for it. There are so many recipes on the internet – who do you trust & which do you choose?
Instead I found an old recipe book on tarts that was my grandmother’s. She used to scribble notes and recipes on the inside of her books, and there I found her lemon meringue condensed milk filling!
I love to work off her recipes, seeing her strange Rhodesian-taught hand-writing and the real smudges of dough make the memories come flooding back.
Both my Oumas, in very different ways, took pride in their good cooking and baking and I was fortunate enough as a child to be included in this rich tradition. I remember being given the tasks that little hands could do best – dis ‘n werk vir klein handjies – and being so proud that they found me useful.
One of those tasks was helping with the crust. We’d take a rolling pin and crush ginger biscuits, until they were fine crumbs. Then she’d add stuff – I guessed it was butter and maybe flour?- and then my little fingers were given the messy job of pressing down the mixture into the pan. And then I could prick patterns with a fork.
I couldn’t find that recipe and they don’t sell ginger biscuits in Germany, but my version with oatmeal biscuits, melted butter and flour seems to have worked just fine.I did follow her directions for the lemon filling, and found a similar recipe which had an extra egg which I added and I used their directions for the fluffy meringue top.
It is not prize winning lemon meringue, but my family and I love it! I was able to show my little girl how the egg whites change into this shiny fluffy cream. That if any egg yellow goes in there the magic won’t work! How you know it’s ready, when you can cut through the egg with a knife or when you can make the tall spikey towers with the egg beater.
Cooking is more than just preparing food to eat. It’s a little bit of alchemy, handed down through the ages. It’s about a process of making and remembering and… making new memories.