"The point wasn't about the recipes. The point (I was starting to realize) was about making people feel at home, about finding your own style, whatever it was, and committing to it. The point was about giving up neurosis where food was concerned. The point was about finding a way that food fit into your life." -Nora Ephron, 'Serial Monogamy'
Last week, as I searched for a good pie to take to an outdoor summer barbecue at my friend Niki’s house, I came across Nora Ephron’s Frozen Key Lime Pie on Martha Stewart’s website and I knew it was the one.
Now, a bit of background on my friend Niki. She and I were college roommates, and we have always loved throwing parties together. In college, we rented a huge television from Rent-A-Center for one week (I don’t think they were supposed to let us do that) when we had a party for the Big 12 Championship. Niki taught me how to remove the pit from an avocado, and I made my first bowl of guacamole.
When we lived in the same building in Denver after college, we had a winter celebration pre-party before heading to the Parade of Lights. The party mainly consisted of walking into Niki’s studio to get a bowl of her famous green chili, then crossing the hall into my one bedroom to find a seat and the rest of the food. I thought making hot chocolate with milk for everyone to take to the parade would be a good idea. We didn’t plan for it to take over an hour to warm up enough milk for all our guests on my tiny gas stove.
One year, for our birthdays (they’re only one week apart), we made one hundred cupcakes for what we thought was going to be a fun picnic at the park. It poured rain all day and we had to make a last-minute decision to move the party to a local pub.
Niki and I have certainly shared some neurosis-inducing entertaining experiences in our days as friends. And yet we both love inviting people into our homes in order to share a good meal, stressful as it can be.
So when I came across Nora’s pie on Martha’s site, I couldn’t help but imagine the two of them like the two of us: good pals, sharing something delicious with each other and the world.
So the pie. My local grocery store didn’t have key limes, so I went with regular limes. Apparently key lime juice can be found in a bottle most anywhere, but I decided that juice from freshly squeezed regular limes would probably taste better than key lime juice from a bottle. I had no basis for this decision, but I made it and went with it.
One of my problems with pie is that if you make one to take to a party, you can’t really taste it before you serve it to make sure it tastes good. I typically like to taste things before I serve them to other people, so I can know what I’m feeding them and, honestly, because Gordon Ramsay always gets mad at the people on Kitchen Nightmares who don't taste their own food.
So when we showed up at Niki’s on Saturday night, I had a pie I felt a little nervous about serving since I hadn’t exactly followed the recipe or tasted the thing, and Niki had burgers on her grill.
Then came the torrential downpour.
It rained hard for close to an hour. Dann ran back and forth to the grill with an umbrella, saving the food. We put the corn in a pot of boiling water on the stovetop, and broiled the burgers in the oven. All the guests got comfy in the kitchen and living room. It was a typical party experience involving myself and Niki. It wasn’t what we’d all been expecting, but it was still a super good time.
Oh, and my frozen regular lime pie?
It was a hit.