Key Lime PieStory Recipe
Memorize this sentence - How I need a drink, alcoholic of course, after reading the heavy chapters concerning quantum mechanics. Now, whenever you need to calculate the circumference of a circle, count the number of letters in each word - How=3, I=1, need=4, etc... You'll get the ratio Pi to 16 digits. "But," you're saying, "'Concerning' has 10 letters!" Wow, you're a bigger nerd than I thought. Pretend like it only has 9 letters if you really need that level of precision. Before you start to wonder if you accidently typed wolframalpha instead of stonedsoup into your browser, take a seat and chill. We're getting to the recipe. Today is 3/14. Get it? 3 14? 3.14? Yes, it's pie day! I woke up ready to measure circles, solve trig problems and contemplate the infinity of this trippy little number. I should learn that when it comes to nerd stuff, I should not get my hopes up for support from the rest of the Stoned Soup gang. I searched the whole house, but I didn't find a trace of Jennifer's decorations. Frank grumbled that he retired to get away from engineers, wrapped his blanket tighter and went back to sleep. Leslie smiled that way you see when somebody thinks your ridiculous hobby is kinda cute but not in the least interesting. I gave up and started searching the net for cool stories about how the rest of the world was celebrating. The search results were disappointingly slim. No parades, no college campus parties, no speeches by mathematicians. I dropped into the depths of solitary despair, realizing that geek culture was fading out of fashion. The world is more Steve Jobs than Steve Wozniak these days and there is nothing I can do about it. My throat was closing as I tried to swallow this bitter pill, when I noticed that the search results included links to pizza places and bakeries. Of course! Round baked goods! I rushed to the Stoned Soup kitchen, shouting for Cook. It turned out that Cook had a bit of a geek streak. As soon as I described the holiday to him, he shoved a bag of tiny green fruit into my hands and rushed into his mise en place. "Don't just stand there!" he cried. "Juice those key limes." I looked at the bag in my hand. The green fruit looked like tiny limes. They smelled of citrus - something between a lime and an orange. I rummaged around one of the cupboards to find the juicer and set to work. The key limes are tiny and hard. As each lime gave up a few drops of liquid, I realized why Cook stuck me with this job. While I was squeezing, Cook put a pan on the stove with a mixture of milk and sugar in it. The heat was low, but cook watched the pot closely while he stirred the mixture. When a few wisps of steam lifted off the surface of the milk, he turned the heat down and stirred until all the sugar dissolved. When the mixture was smooth, he turned the heat down farther and let the pot barely simmer. "That will take a couple of hours," he said. "How are those limes coming?" At the rate I was going, I would need a couple of hours myself to get the cup of lime juice Cook demanded. Cook, certain that I was going to be occupied for a while, pulled a box of graham crackers from the pantry. He must have melted some butter while I was concentrating on my task, because he had some in a bowl with some sugar. He crumbled some graham crackers into the bowl. When everything was well mixed in a bowl, he pressed the grainy mixture into a pie pan. It was a 9 inch pan which means that the circumference was around 28 and a quarter inches. Not that that fact mattered, but such thoughts come naturally on this holiday. Cook sighed and popped the crust into a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. That time gave him a break to check the milk and clean up the already immaculate kitchen. By the time the crust came out of the oven and cooled, the milk mixture was reduced down to a thick goo. Cook took it off the stove and whisked in 3 tablespoons of budder and a dash of vanilla. He showed me the pan and proudly exclaimed that canned sweetened condensed milk had nothing on his homemade version. He scooped the milk into a bowl with some eggs and the juice I had coaxed out of the key limes. He mixed everything well, poured it into the crust and placed the pie in the oven for 15 minutes. The worst part about pie making is when it comes out of the oven, smelling delicious, and all you can do is try to keep the drool in your mouth while it cools. To keep me out of the way, Cook ordered me to mix some sour cream with a bit of powdered sugar. I was ready to dive into the pie. It looked cool. But Cook was not done. He spread my sour cream concoction over the filling and put it in the fridge to set. There were a few key limes left that Cook carved into little swans. He called the work Garde Manger and scoffed when I asked if he would show me how. Instead, I was relegated to whipping cream. After an interminable age, Cook assembled the pie, lime swans and whipped cream into the tastiest looking tribute to a fundamental mathematical constant I have ever seen. When the rest of the gang saw the pie, they apologized for dismissing me before and grabbed forks. Hours of work disappeared in a matter of minutes. I wiped a smudge of whipped cream off of Leslie's mouth and prepared my notes. It took an hour or so for the mood to mellow enough for me to begin my speech. I explained irrational numbers, infinite series, conic sections and more to the rapt attention of my friends. A holiday doesn't get any better than that!
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