Saturday, April 11, 2009

How strawberry-rhubarb became lemon meringue

The world's best zucchini bread is baking in my oven, right now. Now, I was supposed to be bringing lemon bread to Easter at Grandma's tomorrow, but let me tell you what happened ... 

In an effort to a) make Easter easier for my grandma, b) make the dining selections slightly more palatable, and c) win some kind of "best granddaughter" award, I called my grandma on Tuesday, to gently suggest that my dad & I bring some of the Easter luncheon. I offered lemon bread, like I'd brought last Easter, and she happily accepted. And then I offered a sweet potato casserole, but No, no -- she said, she already had the ham, canned sweet potatoes, frozen broccoli-in-cheeze (yes that was supposed to be a Z), and she was planning on pie for dessert.

I remembered the Thanksgiving pie debacle of 1994 (or was it 1995?), and reminded her of how much I love to bake. Especially pie. Now, this is not a lie -- I really do love to bake. And I really do love to bake pie. So, when she said, oh -- well, strawberry-rhubarb pie would be nice, what could I say but "wow, Grandma, great idea."

So, I set out today in search of rhubarb, despite my fairly certain knowledge that rhubarb is not out ahead of kale & chard and other green leafy things that are just starting to make their way into the local markets. Perhaps you can get strawberries from anywhere, but rhubarb seems to be one of those you-can-only-get-it-in-its-growing-season kind of things (usually mid-spring through summer), and I wasn't super-optimistic.

I drove up to the Lancaster Farmers' Market in Wayne, PA, but the nice Amish folks didn't have any rhubarb yet. I checked out the Whole Foods in Devon, but the yuppies didn't have any rhubarb either (and man, that store was *nuts* today). 

Feeling somewhat disappointed, I popped in to Trader Joe's with one last small hope, and found no rhubarb, but was inspired by the tower of organic lemons. Aha, I thought -- lemon meringue pie. Seems spring-y, and like it would be a nice finish for Easter, and it would be pretty, too. But ... could we have lemon bread AND lemon pie? I thought not.

Hence the world's best zucchini bread (which is so much easier than the lemon bread, anyway), the second loaf of which I'm quite looking forward to for breakfast this week. Here's hoping the pie's not half bad, either. It's my first lemon meringue (or cooked-filling-and-meringue of any sort, really), but aside from being a heck of a lot more work than a fruit pie, it seemed to come together well. The blind-baked crust didn't shrink, the filling didn't curdle, the meringue didn't separate -- so far, so good. 

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