Saturday, May 22, 2010
It all started at the neighborhood market where I got sucked into buying a bag of tiny key limes because they were a dollar. How could I resist? One tiny dollar and I could have about 20-30 limes. What a deal! Except that, unless you are having one heck of a cinco de mayo party, and you are serving cervesas with a lime slice in every bottle, what is there to do with all of these limes? I had already made tequila lime chicken.
Now I was set on making a very simple key lime pie to give a friend who was having us over this afternoon. I had the graham cracker crust all ready pre-made, a can of condensed milk, eggs, and of course the limes with which to make the lime juice. It looked like the recipe required 2 cups of condensed milk, but since one can has only about a cup and a half, I roughly modified the recipe leaving 2 of the 6 egg yolks out and altered the lime juice requirement from 2/3 cup to 1/2 cup.
I needed to get the 1/2 cup of lime juice squeezed out of these tiny fruits with a mini electric hand juicer. I started the process when my 3 year old twins became curious. They wanted to help. I felt this would be a good learning experience and I showed them how to juice. The limes were the hardest fruits I had ever juiced. Being small, they were easy to slip off the rotating reamer and there was very little juice in each tiny lime. That said, with patience, the girls and I had gotten our juice after about a half an hour of hard work. We were on our last limes, when my daughters asked to juice just one more. I cut the last lime and watched as my one twin finished her half. The other twin took her turn at the juicer and I turned to take away some empty peels to the trash. It was then that my daughter pulled a little too hard on the juicer and it toppled off the counter all over her and on to the floor. All of that juicing was lost. It was truly tragic. Tears flowed from the twins as I forced a grin on my face and told the girls that "There is no use crying over spilled lime juice." It was even worse that they thought that they had broken the machine since all of the purposely removable parts came apart in the fall. I had to convince them that the machine was fine. Luckily, I had some limes left. I mopped up the floor, cleaned the surroundings, and then set to work juicing again. The daughter that caused the spill wanted to juice again, but I rejected that proposal at first. Only after realizing that she really needed the chance to prove herself did I put her back to work at the juicer with even more guidance than the last time. My other daughter was playing another game by then and it gave me some good one on one with the twin who needed the Mommy time. We managed to squeeze enough juice out for the recipe with a couple of motley looking left over limes (pictured) to spare. I set my daughter to washing up while I mixed up the rest of the pie.
I put the pie in our well preheated 325 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until the center was almost not jiggling, as the recipe said. It wasn't jiggling, the pie was downright sloshing after 20 minutes, so I put it back in for 10 minutes more. It was still liquid. Now we were pushing our time limits. We had lost at least a half an hour over the lime juice setback and now our friends would be waiting for us. Our friends had an all day movie fun day planned and we did not want to push their schedule back by showing up late. I put the pie in the refrigerator to chill as the recipe said, hoping it would firm up in the cold. As the pie was arriving at the shelf in the fridge a bit spilled over the side and I tasted the drip. It seemed awful sour to me. There was no sugar called for in the recipe. Oh well, I would deal with this later.
After a lovely few hours with friends and family, I came home to discover that the pie had not really firmed up much at all and was indeed sour. I checked the recipe, it called for sweetened condensed milk, had I used sweetened? I checked the recycle bin and for the life of me could not find the word sweetened anywhere on the condensed milk label.
I took out some raw granulated sugar and carefully spooned it into the still liquid pie. I mixed it in until it tasted reasonably sweet and I put it back in the oven for a good half an hour more.