Do you ever think about what you owe your life to? (I know this is most likely just me - really I'm aware.)
Sometimes I think about this, not often mind you, but once in awhile definitely.
I owe my life to to an endless parade of events that reaches far back beyond what I could ever possibly know, but in the most recent past I am sure that I owe my existence to a locked door, a Temple University dorm room, a taxi cab ride, and pie.
My mom was completely shy as a young woman (not that you'd know that now) and when working for the bank after college at a branch she normally was never at, got locked out of the building. Too shy to bang on the door loudly as I probably would have, she turned around to see coming the guy who happened to have the keys to let her in, my dad.
One night, while out at a bridal shower in South Philadelphia my mom-mom and all her girlfriends decided to catch a cab home to North Philadelphia, where she lived. With so many girls packed in the cab, she ended up sitting right next to the driver and she was the last person to be dropped off. The driver happened to ask her for her phone number that night, and two weeks later asked her to marry him as well....my grandfather.
My Grammy was a new freshman at Temple University back in the 1950's, being the go-getter that she still is today, when a lot of girls didn't go to college. While walking down the hallway of her dorm on one of the first weeks, she just so happened to hear a young man playing the piano with his door wide open and she popped her head in just to say hello, less than a year later running away to Delaware to marry this same young man. My grandfather.
My great-great grandmother ran a boarding house in the early 1900's in western Pennsylvania. Her cooking and pie-making was well renowned and a hit with the local coal miners. On the recommendation of his cousin for how great it the place was, a man went to stay at the boarding house on a whim one day and just so happen to fall in love with my great-great grandmother's daughter, my great grandmother, during his stay.... my great grandfather.
I was never the "start planning your future wedding" type of girl growing up, and truthfully still am not today. But once in awhile, when I let my mind wander, I think about all of these seemingly random occurrences that lead to me being here, and I think to myself "I wonder what one day looking back, my own story will be."
When I think about all these things I find it fitting that, not only does my entire mother's side of my family existence in some respect depend on how well known my great-great grandmother's cooking and baking and hospitality was, but also that I'm using the same rolling pin she used to make the pies that ultimately drew my great grandfather in, to still craft my own pies today.
I'll tell you, it sure does put a lot of pressure on my own pie making though.
While I'm not sure my pies will ever have the crazy effect on my own life and family as hers did, I still love nothing more than making a pie from scratch. This summer I was all about the pies and every week you could find me shoving a new one under everyone's noses. There was no end in sight.
This pie recipe as written, was a little fussy and overcomplicated, but I put my own spin on it and made some steps easier for you, and it resulted in an even better pie than the original in my opinion.
If you're really strapped for time, you can always use a premade pie crust - but I beg you to try your own, so worth it! You could always also replace the meringue topping with some fresh whipped cream.
Not in the mood for blackberries? Substitute raspberries or blueberries instead. This pie is versatile and not uber complicated in the way that I've written it. Any way you try it is bound to be great. But do try it, it's a taste of summer even when the weather might be changing into fall.
As for me, I am truly lucky to be a product of all the love and stories about my family that I know about, and I'm sure countless others that I don't. One day when I do figure out my own story of how I met the person I end up with, I'll be sure to let you know. I only hope that when I reach that point I'm able to emulate all that these wonderful people in my family have put before me; the ideals of sticking with it through good times and bad, and just always making it work.
For now though, these people and their stories of hope and never knowing what's right around the corner for you in life, are more than enough.
Blackberry Lemon Meringue Pie
1 batch pie crust prebaked and cool
1/2-3/4 jar seedless blackberry jam
1 cup fresh blackberries
1- 1 1/2 cups store bought lemon curd
For the meringue:
3 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp corn syrup
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
Pre-bake pie crust as instructed. Let cool. Smooth thin layer of blackberry jam all in the bottom of the crust. Spoon lemon curd on top and smooth. Refrigerate.
To make meringue preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat until soft peaks form. Stir sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan on medium hear until sugar dissolves. Boil without stirring (only swirling the pan as needed) 6-8 min. Beat in salt to egg whites. Slowly pour hot syrup into egg mixture as it is beating (BE CAREFUL - THE MIXTURE IS EXTREMELY HOT). Beat until cool (about 4 min). Spoon over pie and scatter blackberries around it. Bake pie until meringue is toasted 3-5 min. Chill in refrigerator for at least 30 min until serving.
If using whipped cream instead of meringue, beat 1/2 cup heavy cream with 1-2 Tbsp powdered sugar and 1-2 tsp vanilla extract until slightly stiff and has desired consistency (I like my whipped cream on the stiff side) Spoon over chilled pie and scatter blackberries around. Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from: Bon Appetit