Friday, May 8, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

by Sheila Connolly

Elizabeth Floyd -- her
engagement photo
This week we’re honoring our mothers, and the food they made that we remember fondly.

My mother did not really care for desserts or anything sweet (she spent most of her adult life battling what she considered a weight problem, probably because she had been a slightly pudgy child). But she did not deprive her family of desserts, thank goodness.

What I remember most happily is the pies she made, all of which can be found in The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, AKA Fannie Farmer. She used the 1947 edition, which makes sense because she and my father married in 1948. I still have it (and use it!), its pages market with annotations from three generations of cooks.

The quartet of favorites consisted of lemon meringue pie, chocolate cream pie, chocolate chiffon pie, and lemon chiffon pie. I’ve made more than my share of lemon meringue pies, but I don’t think I’ve ever found an example of lemon chiffon pie in the real world, so that’s what my mother is sending to you, by way of me.

My mother's pie pan
My mother's double boiler

By the way, it was only when I began to assemble what I needed to make this recipe that I realized I still had (and use) my mother’s Pyrex pie pan and double boiler, so this is kind of a double tribute. I hope I’ve made her proud.

Lemon Chiffon Pie

May I remind you that I am
pie crust challenged? At
least it's homemade.
Single pie crust (of your choice), baked

2 tsp gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
4 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1 tsp grated lemon rind
4 egg whites* (about 1/3 cup)

Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water.

Beat the egg yolks, add 1/2 cup sugar, salt, and lemon juice and rind.

Cook the mixture over simmering water in a double boiler, stirring until thick.

Add the gelatin mixture and stir until it dissolves. Cool.

Beat the egg whites and the remaining sugar (1/2 cup) until stiff.

When the mixture is beginning to set, fold in the egg whites.

Pour into a baked pie shell and chill. (You can mixed in 1/2 to 1 cup of whipped cream, or top it with the whipped cream instead.)

Raw egg whites
*Some people are concerned about salmonella contamination in raw eggs (cooking kills salmonella). If you are not completely confident in the source of your eggs, you can use pasteurized egg whites, available in the refrigerator section of your market. The pasteurized ones are harder to beat to a foam, so if you’re using them, add a bit of cream of tartar or lemon juice, and be patient.

Pasteurized egg whites

I tried both (see pictures). I measured the equivalent of 4 egg whites of the pasteurized form, and whipped them with the same electric mixer. They appear to have reached the same volume, in the same amount of time. In cooking, though, I used only the unpasteurized egg whites, so I can’t tell you how the pasteurized ones would cook.

Both kinds of egg whites, beaten (the pasteurized ones are on the right).

Rather than promoting any of my books today (none of which my mother ever had a chance to read), I want to thank her for instilling in me a love of reading--she was seldom without a book or magazine in her hand.


  1. The pie looks gorgeous! Thank you for the recipe.

  2. Your mother was beautiful! This pie looks great--hubby loves lemon so I will definitely have to try this.

  3. Beautiful mother and lovely recipe, Sheila! Thanks for sharing. XO MJ

  4. What a marvelous picture of your mother.
    This lemon pie sounds lip smacking good.
    Love the double boiler. Have you noticed that recipes today usually tell you to put a heat proof dish over simmering water? It's as if double boilers never existed!

    1. It is funny. Of course, I never tried to buy one, since I ended up with both my mother's and my grandmother's. I think the microwave took over a lot of its uses, but you can't stir in a microwave. I also always laugh that Revere Ware is still selling the same cookware pieces--probably from the same molds. They were built to last!

  5. Lovely picture of your mother. And the cookbooks our mothers used are special, aren't they?

  6. The old cookware and cookbooks of our mothers provide comfort on so many levels, a way to visit with them again. Enjoyed the post and the photo of your mom--beautiful. Thanks for sharing with us today and Happy Mother's Day, Sheila! ~ Cleo

  7. What a lovely tribute to your beautiful mother. I am blessed to not only still have my mother around, but also live with her. She was always busy in the kitchen baking this and that as I grew up. I loved to sit on a stool and work on the extra leaf of the kitchen counter with her. My mother does not bake much these days, but chess pie is still one we all love and ask for. I never knew until I was an adult and moved north for a few years, that not everyone knew what chess pie was. I am so blessed to have my amazing mother with me. Wishing you a wonderful Mother's Day. Thanks for the recipe!!

  8. This looks great, Sheila! And what a wonderful picture of your mother, such a striking woman! Wonder if that's a fragrant gardenia she's wearing? Will try this recipe ASAP!

  9. Thanks for sharing the picture of your mom! And the cookbook looks like great fun! Happy Mother's Day to every mother out there!

  10. I apologize for not responding to all your lovely comments, but I was on a train for most of the day. I hope I can stay home for at least a short while now!

    It's funny that Fanny Farmer is still a go-to cookbook. I've got three copies (I keep finding them at yard sales), and I swear the earlier ones include recipes for cooking squirrel and possum. I haven't tried those. So much history!

  11. Helena GeorgetteMay 9, 2015 at 1:48 PM

    Lovely Read & Recipe! Thank you :)

  12. What a beautiful pie and what a sweet tribute! Thanks, Sheila.

    Daryl / Avery

  13. I got a Fannie Farmer cookbook as a shower gift in 1971and still use it. My best find was the frosting for our family's favorite cutout Christmas and other very special events cookies--Portsmouth Icing. It is an excellent icing! That 1965 edition did not have any squirrel recipes in it but the 1975 Joy of Cooking does (a Christmas gift). I had to make the Squirrel Stew recipe one time. It turned out well but we are not a hunting family. I told my son we had to eat what he shot. I think Sheila's pies look great and need to be made soon at our house!

  14. Your mother was so beautiful and elegant. And you look just like her! Love the recipe and the memories, Sheila. My parents also shared their love of reading with their children. I'm so thankful for that!