HAPPY NEW YEAR!
It's been ages, and I am sorry for that... I have several partially-finished posts that I just haven't finished or posted yet and that's on me. But I'm taking a short break from my epic New Year's slumber party weekend in which my friend and I are wearing onesies, doing face masks, watching all the Matrix movies and Season 6 of RuPaul's Drag Race, eating Dundee cake (his request, and an excellent choice), mac 'n cheese, making cookies (to be featured in the future), and reading romance novels (specifically, me reading them aloud to him). We've finished the book the cookies are coming from and are almost half-way through For Real, by Alexis Hall.
So, when deciding which post to finish first and start the new year with I decided, well... we're reading it, and I've mentioned this book and this pie several times so I think it makes the most sense to return with lemon meringue pie. To be converted to #teamLMP, as it were.
As I was.
Now, I love a lemon meringue pie. Even my dad - who hates lemons - likes lemon meringue pie. But if you'd ever told me that I was going to get behind a romance with an eighteen year age difference where the younger character is nineteen and has recently dropped out of university and lives with his mum, and where the older is wealthy and successful doctor (sorry, sorry, consulting surgeon)... I would have probably laughed in your face. Or, quite possibly, lectured you about power dynamics and intimate partner violence.
I would never ever have believed that I would be rooting for this couple.
And then add in BDSM... I'd might have even raised my voice. Not, to be clear, out of any kink-shaming or anti-BDSM sentiments, it's just the age difference PLUS power imbalance PLUS BDSM sounds like a very scary combination. But, luckily, I had already read Boyfriend Material, and the Arden St. Ives trilogy, and Giltterland, and was fully committed to reading everything Alexis Hall has ever written and will ever write, and I'm so so glad I was because I would have been so wrong.
I am absolutely #teamLMP because For Real is fucking brilliant. I mean, it's got so much that makes it so good... The Fated Mates podcast discusses precisely why For Real is brilliant much more eloquently than I ever could (do check it out), but, well, all those power imbalance things I mentioned are there but they're not ignored or brushed aside or downplayed in any way. One of my friends said she didn't like the drawn out will-they-or-won't-they of the book, but for me that was a huge part of what made it good. Both characters really struggle with the age and power imbalances, in their own ways, and the struggle is the only way I could get on board with a relationship between a character who is so young and lost and a man nearly twice his age whose life is so conventionally successful and settled. And the BDSM element just adds to the perfection because Toby is young and lost and the dominant one in the pair, and Laurie is so settled in his career but lost in other ways that Toby's youthful enthusiasm just kind of barrels right over... in a good way and the book is just so smart. It's well-plotted and planned and, and, and...
I just adore this book.
Which comes with its own recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie... so I'm not putting it here. Go buy (or borrow) the book!
TOBY'S KINKY LEMON MERINGUE PIE
The recipe in the book makes a lovely lemon meringue pie.
It has a pie crust using a mix of butter and shortening, and also vodka. I, personally, don't find the vodka/butter/shortening pie crust to be the superior pie crust... I know some people feel very strongly in favor of the vodka pie crust, and some people are strongly in favor of the mixed butter/shortening crust, but honestly, I prefer an all-butter pie crust, the recipe for which I have shared every time I've made pie, but I was following the book recipe and made the book recipe pie crust. It was a perfectly good pie crust and the friend who ate this pie with me loved it. I liked it, but I like Smitten Kitchen all-butter crust better.
I also prefer making pie crust by hand than in the food processor. This is another controversial stance, but the thing is, if you do it in the food processor sometimes you over-mix it and it's tough and then your family criticizes your pie crust at Thanksgiving dinner even though it still *tastes* fine and you made two fucking pies, thank you very much. Anyway, if you make it by hand that almost never happens because you can feel when it's right and don't over-mix it and it's tender and flaky and perfect. As always, be sure to chill your dough thoroughly, and remember that blind-baking is essential here.
|(I use dried beans as pie weights; the same ones, once cooled, return to a ziplock labeled "pie weights")
The curd is also very different from the curd I usually make. I followed the recipe and it came out nicely but I did two things a little differently. I like a LOT of sharp lemony goodness in my curd so I used 3 lemons instead of two and just cut the water. It is *very* sharp that way. I tried it with the exact recipe too, and it was lovely but not quite as sharp as I like it. If I do it again maybe 2.5.
I also didn't take a picture of it, and it's not in the recipe, but I HIGHLY recommend straining your lemon curd before it goes into the pie crust. There are little bits of eggs sometimes, and I like the velvety smoothness of a curd without the texture of the lemon zest, and since I upped the zest and lemon juice, it's definitely not necessary for the taste.
Also, this pie has instructions for when, while making this pie, to tie up and torture a loved one but one thing that isn't specifically stated in the recipe but IS explicitly stated in the book is to ensure that you don't let your curd cool before topping with the meringue.
"The trick," he explained, "is not letting your curd get cool." He put the two bowls down on the table beside me. "You sometimes get this weird wet layer between the lemon and the meringue, but if the curd is still warm then it cooks the meringue from the bottom so the layers stick together better."
So I made sure to listen to Toby, because while I've made curd, meringue, and pie crust each many, many times, I have never actually made a lemon meringue pie before.
OTHER THAN THOSE little adjustments, I followed the recipe (minus Toby's very helpful bondage and torture suggestions, but perhaps another time) and made the pie. It was delightful. My friend and I ate the whole thing in shockingly short order.
So, if you haven't already... go buy or borrow the book and bake your own lemon meringue pie, and let me know if Toby successfully converts you you to #TeamLMP.