Well, thanks to Hurricane Arthur, it was a topsy-turvy sort of weekend in the Pines. While most of the country had beautiful weather for the Fourth of July, a cold rain fell from dawn to well beyond dusk here, so there was an almost unspoken general consensus that took hold all up and down the Island that The Fourth would be held on the fifth, with all the celebrations, parades, and outdoor activities that went with it taking their usual place, just a day later.
And, it worked. Even at the house, where we traded plans so that the seated dinner for Saturday became the Friday night dinner, and the cookout, previously anticipated to be our Fourth of July event, happened on Saturday afternoon, instead.
We had a full house of ten plus one guest, for a total of 11 people in all, and the weekend was replete with friends and neighbors dropping by.
Beauty, Goodness and Truth
If you’ve been keeping up with all this, you already know that I believe our uncanny ability to – indeed, longing to – discern beauty, goodness and truth are all gifts of our loving Creator God, and that, having given us the ability to appreciate His handiwork, He then has gone even further by providing us, as His children, with the tools and materials required to actually join with Him in our own creative effort to interpret and optimize His gifts.
After all, as Jesus Himself said, “not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed” as magnificently – as beautifully – as a lily of the field. And, similarly, who could have created a flavor as transporting – as good – as a perfectly ripe tomato or ear of summer corn? Only a truly loving Creator, it seems to me, could have provided us with these astonishing realities, but He has not left us out of the equation. Indeed, far from it. He may have made the eggs, the cows who gave the milk and the sugar cane that grew in the fields, but He left it to His children to come up with a crème brulée! Likewise, while the flowers, themselves, may be of Divine design, it was left up to us to create the garden paths where their gifts of beauty and fragrance may best be savored.
And, for my money, both of these co-creative activities only serve to reinforce just how ultimately real – how true – is the love of God for us. It is wondrous beyond imagining that He would shower us with such an array of “raw materials” that we might cooperatively engage – might, if you will, dance with Him as we express our own creative impulses – thereby, at least to ourselves, proving yet again the boundlessness of His generosity.
Thus, with your kind permission, I’m following these thoughts with a few photos from the past few days at the beach in the hope that you’ll find at least some measure of the beauty, goodness and truth that we shared here at the house with friends.
Also, having discovered last week with my Fresh Strawberry Charlotte just how popular recipes seem to be in this blogosphere I’m still exploring, I’m including at the end of this post my key lime pie recipe, taken from my mother, perfected in the decades since, and guaranteed to make you a star in your own kitchen!
George’s Key Lime Pie
When Mimi was six and I was nine, Mama and Daddy farmed us out to the Showalters and accompanied the Century High School senior class on a week-long trip to South Florida. And, one of the things Mama brought home with her was a recipe for Key Lime Pie, which she had first encountered on the trip. Hers was a mighty fine pie, and mine is almost the same, except that I make 9″ pies, so I’ve increased the amounts to make the filling more generous, added a bit of vanilla to enhance the flavor, and also make a point of really beating the egg yolks for quite a long time, which results in a truly melt-in-your mouth eating experience.
Also, a note about Graham cracker crust. I prefer to make my own crumbs since the packaged graham cracker crumbs are too fine for my taste. I put the broken crackers in the food processor two packages at a time, but the trick is in getting it the right fineness. Be careful not to over-crumble so you end up with dust, but on the other extreme, if you don’t make the crumbs fine enough, it will be hard to shape the edges of the crust (see photo for example of “too course” crumbs 🙂 ).
Ingredients (for two 9″ pies):
1 1/3 boxes of Nabisco Honey Graham Crackers
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
10 eggs, separated
3 cans Carnation sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups key lime juice (note: squeezing key limes is about the worst possible job I can think of. They’re hard, juiceless and very unrewarding. On the other hand, the bottled key lime juice, “Nellie and Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice” is widely available and serves the purpose nicely.)
1 TBS vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar (or a few drops of lemon juice)
Zest of one lime
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
First prepare crusts: make graham cracker crumbs as noted above. Place in large bowl with well in the center and pour in melted butter. Mix well till all crumbs are thoroughly moistened.
Spray pie-plates with Pam or butter well
Divide crumbs in half and place in pie plates. Shape with fingers until crusts are even on bottom and sides with just enough hanging over the top to form into a nice edge with fork or fingers. Carefully place crusts in freezer to harden while performing next steps.
Place the egg yolks in the mixer bowl and mix with blade attachment for a long time, until the color of whipped butter. Add vanilla and mix well. Add sweetened condensed milk and mix thoroughly. Add key lime juice and mix well.
Carefully remove crusts from freezer and fill with key lime filling. Place in oven to bake while performing next steps. (about 10 minutes)
In a clean bowl, using whisk mixer attachment, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, adding cream of tartar (or drops of lemon juice) once it begins to froth in the bowl. When ready, remove pies from oven and cover with the beaten egg whites. Return to oven for anther 10 minutes, or so, until the meringue is perfectly browned on top.
Sprinkle lime zest on top for color.
Set aside to cool until room temperature, then place in refrigerator to cool at least four hours before serving.