Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ode to Betty Crocker's Chiffon Pie

Yesterday, I made a Lime Chiffon Pie.
Clearly, doing so was a step in the opposite direction of my current return to better-eating-and-exercising-for-health program.

Five steps forward, three steps back. A reasonable forward and back motion considering the challenging times. (liken it to the status of our personal finances...).
Ahem and Amen.

Armed with a recipe for Citrus Chiffon Pie from my Betty Crocker ** cookbook, and four fragrant limes, I assembled the ingredients to make a frothy tangy and a wee bit sugary pie.

To my thinking, 'chiffon' is Pie Lite, and this I maintained as rationale for making a dessert with just two people in mind to eat it. This was my first attempt at a true chiffon pie. Not one of the Cool-Whip + Jell-o Instant Mix variety - though that combo of chemicals does yield a convincingly tasty (albeit too sweet) version of the real deal. Nope - my chiffon pie will be made from scratch or not at all.

~ Citrus Chiffon Pie ~
from the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook
1/2 c. sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2/3 c. water
1/3 c. (fresh-squeezed) lemon, orange or lime juice
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 T. grated lemon, orange or lime rind
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 c. sugar

Blend sugar, gelatin, water, juice and eggs yolks in saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it boils. Add rind. Place pan in cold water, cool until mixture mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon. Fold into a Meringue of egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar. Pile into a cooled baked pie shell. Chill several hours until set. Serve with a generous amount of whipped cream.
P.S. If you aren't adverse to the idea, a teeny
tiny drop of green food coloring can
be added during the mixing. I dipped the very tip of a
toothpick into green food coloring and that
was just enough for a visual hint o' lime.
Some folks shy away from uncooked meringue (you can substitute pasteurized dried egg white), but I am OK-fine with it. I have little fear of the traditional Caesar salad made with raw egg, and have consumed my share of the Original Orange Julius (remember those?) drinks with raw egg added for extra protein. The eggs I used for this pie were washed/scrubbed after they were laid by a duck - by the name of Mavis. (No, Mavis didn't wash the eggs - her owner did). In the future, I'll be using egg white substitute for this pie - so no one freaks out about eating uncooked egg white. OK? OK.

** The Betty Crocker New Picture Cookbook (1961, 5 - ring binder edition).
(consider this a temporary link ` until the book sells for $325)

Walking down Memory Lane with Betty C....

On many a Saturday morn in the 1950's and 60's, my Mom and I could be found boarding the Powell-Mason cable car for a ride downtown. We'd spend the day browsing department stores, always with a stop for lunch at the JC Penney cafeteria (chicken pot pie!) or Woolworth's lunch counter. Mom and I weren't shopaholics, therefore never went on crazy shopping sprees, but there would always be a few sensible and/or novel, purchases made by day's end.

At age 12 or so, I was developing an interest in the alchemy of food. Particularly fascinating was the notion that certain combinations of flour, liquid, leavening and flavors - mixed, then baked in the oven - would result in a variety of yummy things to eat. We didn't bake in our home, but I did learn something of cooking and baking 'American-style' by way of junior high school Home Economics.

Not only educational, but lots of fun - were the hours I spent in Home Ec class kitchenettes. It was like playing house. Each mini kitchen was equipped with a small sink, refrigerator, stove and oven. There was a table and four chairs. Shelves of plates, drawers full of utensils.

Until cooking class, I'd not actually prepped food using measuring cups, baking pans, rolling pins, cookie cutters. Rubber spatulas! Waxed paper. Crisco! I could hardly wait for my turn at sifting flour and wielding a rotary beater.

Well then - back to the bit about shopping with Mom.
We were perusing the book department of The Emporium on Market Street. Mom must have taken note of how I lingered over the display of Betty Crocker cookbooks, for she asked if I was interested in owning a cookbook.
That cookbook. Who, me - own a cookbook?!?

Being a public library kind of kid and getting my book fixes on loan, I didn't actually own many books. I agonized over the decision, since the cookbook was less practical than say - underwear, pajamas or school clothes. Those were the type of things Mom and I would typically shop for. The book was also a bit pricier than non-essential knickknacks we'd sometimes consider on our shopping trips.

What to do. What to do.

For want of something new as well as novel (pun intended), the cookbook won out. Mom paid, handed it to me and I walked off cradling, like a newborn babe - the bag which contained my very first cookbook, ever. Once home, I ceremoniously removed my prized possession from its bag and pulled off the shrink-wrap plastic. I then smelled the book before proceeding to flip through every slick page, taking the time to savor each recipe, drawing and photograph. Wow.

Since the acquisition of that first cookbook, there have been many added over the decades. I now own more cookbooks than any one person could use in a lifetime. So stated, in my recent Urge to Purge extraneous personal belongings, I've since gotten rid of a few. Just a few. At best, getting rid of cookbooks seems a little unpatriotic.

The Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, binder style, circa 1961 - remains a favorite.

With over 45 years of use, my very first cookbook, ever shows inevitable signs of wear and tear - emphasis on tear. It's actually fallen apart several times. The last repair was done with filament tape, which is neither acid free nor archival. This is a tough-ass cookbook. A survivor.

And now it's ready for another 45 years.

This IS fast becoming a food blog, is it not?


justducky said...

Oh my GOSH, my salivary glands are working overtime!

Any chance of Lime Chiffon pie for a certain pear-shaped father on father's day if you HAPPEN to be checking into the P-town motel?

The memories are so vivid! It gets me right back to the 60's (home economics! loved it! (today called life-skills, but with no depth) I got a little look into your city life.

mmm-mmm-mmm glad you share food stories.

Liz said...

this sounds so good, I may it make for the family on Saturday!!!!

Lauren said...


Conn said...

i finally made it her to see the recipe. will for sure try soon.