Use whatever you have in the pantry for crust
By Susan Oppenheim
Who didn’t grow up 50-odd years ago with something that was totally special, totally yummy, and very, very easy to make?
Ask my mother, a daughter of an amazing baker, about her cooking skills, and she will make a joke. She admits openly that she didn’t cook. She worked full-time six days a week and I do not remember broccoli, cauliflower, or anything else cooked besides corn on the cob or mashed potatoes. Absolutely everything for the four boomer kids in our house came out of a box or a can.
About once a month there were four couples, my parents included, who got together for poker night. They took turns hosting the game, but when it was our turn my older sister and I would sneak onto the stairs and dare each other to run into the kitchen while they were engrossed in the dining room, playing out their hands. With the doors closed off so that no one saw us, we’d grab ribbon tea sandwiches. Imagine salmon and egg together in one bite on alternating white and brown bread.
One thing my mum made on those occasions was an icebox cake, which was likely the predecessor to Oreo cookies! The base ingredients for this were chocolate wafers in a box sold upright and stacked, with a simple recipe on the side. It involved whipping cream, flavoured sugar, and the cookies. They were placed in a stack, horizontal with the sweetened cream between them, then frozen and eaten slightly thawed. I think you can still buy these cookies on grocery shelves today.
What I did not realize at the time was that this is not so different from a convenience store, non-bake icebox pie made with cookie crumbs and a filling of your choice.
It’s finally spring, so I’m posting a lemon meringue pie for you all with a standard graham cracker crust. Feel free to change this any way you want with chocolate cookies, vanilla wafers, even cookies in a cupboard that you stashed and never got to.
Lemon pie from
Kate Aitken cookbook
Make sure to separate your eggs when cold so no yolk gets into the whites.
Standard crumb crust
- 1 1/2 cups finely ground
graham cracker crumbs (or any cookie you have)
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 6 tablespoons warm butter, melted
Mix these together well and then pat into your pie plate. Pretty easy huh? If you don’t have a kitchen processor just put the cookies in a strong bag and roll your rolling pin over them, crushing until fine. Put enough into the pie plate to make a good base.
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups boiling water
- 2 eggs separated
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest (grate the outside peel of the lemon)
- 1 tablespoon butter
Mix cornstarch, flour, sugar, and salt in the top of a double boiler; add the boiling water stirring all the time. Cook over direct heat until thick and smooth, stirring constantly. Cover and cook over boiling water for another 10 minutes. Mix together the egg yolks, lemon juice, and zest, then stir into the hot starch mixture. Blend well, and continue cooking for another three minutes. Remove from the stove, add the butter, and cool. Using a hand beater, beat it up light and fluffy then spoon gently into your crumb shell.
- 2 egg whites stiffly beaten at room temperature (no yolk)
- 3 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Combine egg whites, white sugar, and cornstarch using a hand mixer on its highest setting. Beat until peaks form and it is not sticky. Cover the lemon pie making sure you reach all the edges as the meringue will shrink a bit. Bake it in the centre of a 350 degree oven until puffy and browned, about 10 minutes. Serve cooled. If the meringue seems too much, just whip up some cream and use that.