This was the worst thing I’ve made in a while. (Not as bad as Jellied Frankfurters, but then what could possibly be as bad as Jellied Frankfurters?) Today’s fable has many morals, and I’ll walk you through each one of them. Consider it a rough draft for the home economics book I could write someday.
1. When you want to cook, have a recipe.
Unless you’re Masahari Morimoto, it’s risky to just throw things together and expect them to taste good. It can work for stir fried vegetables, but not for baked goods.
2. Having a recipe in the house isn’t enough. Know where your recipe is and look at it before you start
Unsurprisingly, this is where my problems started. I knew I had a lemon meringue pie recipe on an old Jello advertisement I’d previously used for a retro recipe.
I also knew I had some lemon gelatin. So, I started making the lemon gelatin.
3. When you have found your recipe, and when you realize you haven’t been following it at all, and in fact it’s not a recipe but an instruction to look somewhere else that doesn’t exist, don’t start combining other recipes.
When I decided to actually look at the recipe, I panicked. There wasn’t a recipe there at all, just this annoying little note:
Directions on the box?!?
At this point, I realized (a) I should have been using Jello Pudding, not Jello Gelatin and (b) Jello Pudding does not print lemon meringue pie recipes on its Lemon Jello Pudding boxes any longer. Arrrrrgh.
So I had no recipe. Thanks to Google, I managed to find one that called for lemon Jello combined with Cool Whip, and then made another critical mistake…
4. “Whipped topping” and “cream cheese” are not the same thing.
While it’s possible to combine cream cheese and gelatin (I’ve seen it done and it’s quite tasty), it’s almost impossible to do so by hand with cold cream cheese.
After (in crust):
See the little white bits? That’s teeny chunks of cream cheese which weren’t properly blended. Whisking by hand just won’t work for this.
I tried to repair my mixer (which won’t turn off and smells of burnt wiring, ever since it sucked up Election Cake batter), and Buzz and I each wasted a good half hour trying to remove this one stupid two-inch-long bolt that was holding the damn thing together. All the others came out fine, but THAT one had to strip. And if you can’t get into a mixer, you can’t clean out the gunked-up motor, so you can’t keep it from wildly sparking and potentially electrocuting you while mixing.
5. You won’t get nice stiff peaks in your egg whites if you whisk by hand.
Same problem as with the lemon filling… not enough mixing power without my mixer, although I came close before my arm fell off. The peaks were present, but wimpy rather than stiff. My pie topping desperately needed Viagra. (Meringue lasting more than four hours… ?)
Without those spiky little peaks, you don’t get the same light browning and drying-out that makes for a really tasty meringue.
6. Meringue is not spelled with a “Q”
I don’t know why, but I have a constant compulsion to type MERINQUE. No wonder my blog only rates at a junior high school level.
It isn’t the worst pie I’ve ever had, but it’s down there. The filling was bland, the meringue was insipid, the overall experience was thoroughly pointless. It was a refresher course in culinary stupidity, though, as well as a compelling argument to buy a new mixer 🙂