There's something about summer that makes long strolls in the evening especially appealing. Maybe it's because everything stays open a bit later. Perhaps it's the warm breeze. Whatever it is, summer moonlit strolls in New England are magical.
Our walks invariably lead to long talks and lots of laughter. On a recent saunter we discussed what it means to be neighborly. I suspect this varies quite a bit depending upon your culture.
I'm often surprised when I hear some people describe New Englanders as unfriendly compared to other parts of the United States. Perhaps the word "reserved" is more suitable. For example, people tend to be courteous but generally aren't chatty. People tend to "mind their own business." Personal privacy is valued. In one study 68% of participants agreed that New Englanders are more reserved than the rest of the United States. If you've visited, do you agree?
Interestingly enough, some say New England reserve is rooted in history. Traditional New Englanders were highly engaged in town politics. As such, it wasn't a great idea to get too close to your neighbors...especially if you later had to stand up in church and accuse them of a crime or some act of immoral behavior. For example, it's kind of tough to accuse someone of witchcraft and then drop by with a plate full of cookies ;)
What is it like where you live? On the whole are people reserved, friendly, intrusive, etc.? Do you love your neighbors or do they drive you crazy? What does it mean to be neighborly to you?
While you ponder the question, I'd like to tell you about this great Deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pie. I got the idea from an excellent restaurant in Newport, RI called Fluke. From my perspective, the dessert makes a lot of sense because you get the best parts of lemon meringue pie without all of the heaviness and gooeyness. At the restaurant, they included a piece of jagged pie crust in the glass. You can too, depending upon your preference. The "pie" is light, refreshing, easy to make and absolutely delicious.
Deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pie
115 g butter, unsalted
310 g sugar
110 g lemon juice
2 sheets gelatin
Soften gelatin sheets by placing in a pan of water for 5 minutes.
In bowl of stand mixture, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs. Mix in lemon juice.
Remove gelatin from water and squeeze out excess. Microwave 3-5 seconds in small bowl until melted. Set aside
Cook lemon mixture in medium sauce pan over low heat whisking constantly (8-10 minutes). When mixture is hot, add gelatin and continue to whisk until mixture thickens. Strain, cool, and refrigerate.
150 g egg whites
150 grams sugar
1 pinch of cream of tartar
Add the egg whites to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with whisk. Add pinch of cream of tartar. Begin whipping whites slowly. Gradually increase speed until the mixture becomes white and thick but is not stiff. Add sugar and whip until the egg whites hold their peak but flop over a bit at the top when you pull the whisk away.
At this point some people place a dollop of meringue on the lemon curd and brown it with a blow torch. Others don't like the idea of raw egg whites so here are a few options.
Pipe or spoon small dollops of meringue onto cookie sheet lines with silpat.
Bake at 200 degrees (93 Celsius) until firm but don't let them get crunchy (about 30-45 minutes, depending upon your oven). To brown, use blow torch. Or Bake at 350 degrees (177 Celsius) for about 5 minutes or until brown.
Place each meringue on top of the lemon curd in a glass and serve.
Note: If you wish to add a side of pie crust the recipe can be found here. Roll it out and sprinkle the dough with sugar before baking. Once cooked, break into jagged pieces and serve on the side.