I find myself completely fascinated by a certain movement that I see happening all around me, across all fronts, to all sorts of people. It’s a phenomenon that I’m a part of, and one that doesn’t surprise me at all. It’s a return to a lifestyle where everything isn’t automatic. Where baking your own bread and canning vegetables you grew in your garden is fun, but also important. It’s taking the activities that our grandparents and great grandparents considered part of daily life and blending them with the lessons and values our culture has picked up over the past 60 years. It’s me, in the kitchen barefoot (not pregnant) baking a pie because I WANT to, not because I HAVE to. It’s a meeting of old and new that I, and a lot of others, are drawing hope from.
What I find most interesting about this whole movement is that it seems obvious (to me, whose anthropological knowledge ends with the amount of Bones I’ve watched) what happened, over the course of a few generations. Starting with our grandparents (I use “our” referring to people in their 20’s and 30’s, children of Baby Boomers). Our grandparents came of age in a post WWII world, where the values and traditions of generations past clashed with a lifestyle that had developed during the war, one of convenience and making due. It’s why my grandmother’s recipe box contained her grandmother’s roll recipe right next to the recipe for ambrosia salad. It’s why when, upon my mother’s request, I called my great Aunt for her lemon meringue pie recipe years ago only to be told that it was the one from the side of the pudding box (but that she had made special tweaks to improve it). It was a culture created first by necessity and then by availability.
Our parents, the baby boomers, continued the trend. Now my parents aren’t the best example of this because they have always done things like smoke their own fish and make their own pasta sauce. A vegetable garden was always a staple in our home. But things like preserving, canning, and for some even cooking dinner every night became a lost art, as women became more successful in the business world and as homemaking became associated with a kind of oppression. And then there’s my generation. As I’ve come into my own I’ve found a lot of joy in making things from scratch, growing and preserving my own fruits and vegetables, standing in the kitchen with no shoes on making pies. I credit my parent’s love of the kitchen for my love of the kitchen but there’s more. It’s partly because I love it but partly because I know it’s the right thing to do. What the world needs now is not another shrink wrapped plastic encased overly processed pastry. It’s homemade pie. It’s beer brewed underneath a kitchen table. It’s meringue made with eggs from the farmer’s market. I know I joked last week about the apocalypse but in a time where the future really does seem scary and uncertain it’s important to remember that the little things you can do WILL help. So go, bake a pie. Or start a compost pile. Or walk to work. Or do whatever it is that you can do to help, however small it seems. Remember that, if no matter what generation you fall into, you can make a difference. We’re working for the future. One pie at a time.
Lemon Meringue Pie
6-8 graham crackers
1 stick butter
1/4 cup sugar
Juice of 4 lemons
1/2 cup corn starch
Yolks of 5 medium size eggs (hold onto the whites)
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
Zest from 2 lemons
6 egg whites
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
Start with your crust. Crush graham crackers and melt butter. Combine, stirring in sugar. Press into bottom (not sides) of a pie dish. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. Set aside. Oven should stay on at 375.
To make your filling, whisk together yolks in a large bowl. Next, combine water, corn starch, and sugar in a medium size pot. Stir over medium heat until thick. When mixture is thick remove from heat and slowly mix into egg yolks, stirring carefully. Return the mixture to the pot and, over medium heat, cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and zest. Scoop into pie dish, spreading evenly over the crust.
Combine whites, tartar, and sugar in a mixer. Whip until stiff. Spoon into pie dish, making sure you completely cover the filling and that the meringue touches the edges of the pie dish. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool completely before serving.