In working out the details of my Family Cookbook there were several real challenges. I wanted at least one page from each of my father’s siblings. His oldest sister, however, was someone I never really knew all that well. Generationally our families were not in sync. That aunt was quite a bit older than my father and her children were a lot older than me. By the time I became interested in cooking they had all moved far away.
I tried to think of a recipe that would somehow fit. I had been to her house many times as a small child. She held an annual family Christmas party in her basement before my uncle retired and they moved to Florida. There was lots of food there. The problem was I couldn’t really remember any of it very well. At the time it didn't really appeal to me. I was still little then and all my memory could conjure up was a dreamlike haze of faded lime green in the form of old fashioned punch, congealed salads and unidentified dips. I could remember no distinct tastes to help me identify the recipes that might have been served. All I really remembered clearly was the Lifesavor Storybook I opened as a gift and the plaster of paris plaques my aunt crafted in quantity and let us choose one from when we won one of her party games.
So I asked around. My brother had the best idea. He remembered helping my aunt and uncle drive to Florida when they moved down south. His memory was of lime green too but in the form of a pie. He tasted his first slice of Key Lime Pie along that route to their new home in Florida. Back in those days Key Lime Pie still seemed exotic, something new that we had never had before and didn’t make regularly in Kentucky. For this reason it made an impression on him and he asked for a recipe. No doubt it went something like this...
Key Lime Pie
1 inner section of graham crackers, crushed into crumbs (approx. 1 cup)
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
5 Tablespoons salted butter, softened
3 Tablespoons sugar
4 egg yolks
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice ( bottled, or from a dozen or so of those cute little key limes)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine graham cracker, crumbs and ground cardamon. Add the softened butter and mix well.
Press the crumbs into a 9 inch pie plate, distributing the crumbs evenly across the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes at 350 degrees, or until slightly browned. Remove and cool on a wire rack.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks until they are thick and lemon colored (I whisk to the length of the song "Peggy Sue." It has a good beat for whisking.)
Add the sweetened condensed milk and continue whisking until well combined. Whisk in the lime juice, half at a time, just until incorporated.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove and let cool on a wire rack. When cool, cover and refrigerate until serving.
Top with sweetened whipped cream and a pinch of cardamon or lime zest if desired.