It is a well-known Taylor/Baker family tradition, that Arnon Taylor makes pies. Good pies. Lots of pies. He hardly ever made just ‘one’ pie. Usually making pies meant that he couldn’t decide or everyone wanted a specific kind so he would make four or five or ten pies. Lemon and Banana Cream were always much in demand at family events.
So, ever the dutiful daughter that I am, on a trip to Lexington, Kentucky I happened upon a cookbook in the Shaker Village that touted it's 'famous and renowned' Lemon Pie. I thought, "Dad has to have this book I bet he'd like the pie." (The truth here is I love Lemon Pie and was looking out for my own interest.) I shelled out the $$$ bought the book and delivered it back here to Minnesota.
We had several discussions about 'the pie' - it took two whole lemons and Dad thought it might be a little tart. I had only smelled it baking at the Shaker Village so I couldn't attest to its tartness but suggested it couldn't been famous if it was all that bad.
Much to my surprise and delight one Sunday when I stopped by the Taylor house - I found dad in the kitchen. I checked to see if my favorite Ginger Snaps were about to be produced when he said nope - it's the lemon pie. I had to leave but they were given strict instructions to call me when it was ready for quality control. I spent the rest of the afternoon thinking lemony thoughts.
The call came and I went over for the tasting. I got to cut the pie and noticed it was a little, well shall we say different. Dad mentioned that the instructions called for slicing the whole lemon (yup the rind too) into paper thin slices before you did all the other stuff - so it was chunky with lemon rind. I thought - how clever of the Shakers to use all of the lemon and not waste anything.
I sat down with a hot cup of coffee and took a big bite. What a bite. My lips puckered up so bad that they darn near turned inside out. My eyes filled with tears and my sinus passages haven't been that clear in years. Yes it was tart! Very tart and the rind was very bitter.
After a brief discussion, we decided that it might be the Shaker version of Weight Watchers - if something is that bad you don't eat much. Then we got to thinking on how much produce has changed over the years. The lemons they used were likely smaller and thinner skinned. (You know they are bigger now and need the thick bright yellow skin/rind to get to market and look pretty) With the thinner skin, when you soaked the slices, they would've gotten much softer and chewier. (Did I mention that not only was the rind tart but as tough as shoe leather)? Of course it is altogether possible that whoever typed up the recipe for the cookbook forgot a step like - peel the darn thing. In any event - there are no more Shakers and I think that now, I know why!
Oh well - all I can say is that this pie was gone as quickly as any other pie that Arnon has ever made. Just went to the garbage instead of someone's stomach.
Picture One: Carol Ann, Arnon, Diana, Maria