When I was nine years old, my mother and I moved from Canada to Maui, so that she could marry my fun, sweet, adventurous step dad. In a few years, I would hit puberty and develop all of the normal feelings of irritation and frustration toward my new father, but there were a few golden years of blissful happiness. We lived in a small historic whaling town, that now attracted pleasure-seeking tourists instead of pleasure-seeking sailors, in a hotel where my dad was the on-call handyman. This meant that we had a pool, and a television. My daddy had sailed to Maui on his catamaran, which was still moored in Lahaina, so sometimes we went sailing. I was very happy. Basically, nine-year old Erin did not need a whole lot more than a pool and a TV and a boat to feel that all her little dreams had come true. Also, my young, beautiful, strong mother had been having a hard time back in Canada and she was finally in love and happy. If only my grandparents had lived nearby, my life would have been perfect.
I know that my parents were working hard, and I have vivid memories of entering into a brand new and totally foreign public school system, but when I reflect on that time it seems that we spent most of our hours doing amazingly fun things. We took picnics to the beach and spent all day boogie boarding, snacking on this or that and sneaking into the big pools at the fancier hotels. We drove out to the rainforest to camp and swim in waterfalls. We sailed to Honolulu right along side dolphins and humpback whales. We drove our tiny beat up green car (known as Max) on bumpy one lane roads along sea cliffs to visit a place where the ocean waves pushed great plumes of water up into the air through a lava tube like a geiser. We tried in vain to eat all of the Bananas that ripened on our tree at once (banana bread, banana cream pie, pancakes with bananas, banana smoothies). We trekked to hidden bays to snorkle or watch surfers depending on what kind of waves were in. We pigged out on plate lunches of salty, sweet, fatty delicious local food. We hiked through Haleakala volcano crater, which is the size of Delaware and looks like Mars. Most nights, we ate fresh fish which my Daddy caught with his co-workers in their weekly, middle of the night net fishing session.
On friday nights, we would start at one end of Front Street in Lahaina, and hop from happy hour to happy hour watching the sun set from waterfront bars. Back in those days, parents afford to get tipsy on cheap beers and cocktails while their kids stuffed themselves to the gills on free pupus and a couple of virgin pina coladas.
No one offers free pupus anymore. I feel that it may have been scruffy, piggy children like me who ruined this awesome set up for future generations. Sorry about that. Wait! I wrote this statement earlier this week, and then, the day after I’d written it, I was offered a little plate of free buffalo wings with my happy hour whiskey! It was at Keen’s Steak and Chop House of West 36th street in Mahattan…mind you I cannot picture anyone bringing their hungry child to happy hour at Keen’s…
One time, one of the managers (or owners?) of the hotel where we lived/worked took us to dinner at a very fancy restaurant. It was the fanciest restaurant on Front Street. It had a shiny black and white tiled floor, lazy ceiling fans, a big glossy piano and huge potted palms. I think there were live parrots too, perched on rings…although I may be conflating my memory of this restaurant with the amazing exotic bird store that I would visit on my way home from school. Let’s not get too hung up on accuarcy…my point is, this restaurant and all of it’s patrons looked like it had been plucked from Miami Vice, which was very big on the TV at this time. It was very glamourous.
I ate shrimp scampi which is big prawns with garlic and butter sauce over pasta. Shrimp Scampi is an awesome dish and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I had key lime pie for dessert. I had never had or heard of key lime pie until then. My Grandpa in Canada was an expert pie maker. He made apple pie, strawberry/ rhubarb pie, mince meat pie and lemon meringue pie. Other than those flavours, I had only ever had my mother’s hippy style pie made with blackberries, raspberries and huckleberries that we picked ourselves combined with not enough sugar in a whole wheat crust. Hippy berry pie is also awesome and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Okay, so key lime pie. It was glamourous and exotic. I now know that key lime pie usually has a graham cracker crust, but the one I had at the fancy restaurant had an oreo cookie crust. A key lime pie with oreo cookie crust is awesome and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. My mother, who is skeptical of the value and quality of dessert in general, tasted my pie and declared it good. She said that it had been made with real key lime juice (not just lime jello). She could tell, because the custard had little bits of lime pulp in it. I remember thinking “Not only is my mother young and cool and beautiful, she tell if this exotic glamourous pie has been made properly, just by tasting it”.
On this Father’s day, I’d like to tip my hat to stepdads in particular. My (step) daddy passed away a few years ago. I miss him a lot. I can get very serious and work oriented at times and I really feel that I might have turned out to be no fun at all had I not had the good fortune to have been raised, in part, by John Berry. My daddy knew how to travel, and try new things, appreciate the world around him, fix things himself instead of expecting others to do it, self-educate and finally RELAX. I regret giving him a hard time as a teenager and young adult. I am so thankful that he continued to love me even when I was a pain in the ass. He was fond of saying “Erin is a good girl. She listens to everything you have t say and then does what ever she wants”. He said this without anger. He saw who I was (scruffy, stubborn, free pupu gobbling child) and he loved me.
KEY LIME PIE WITH AN OREO CRUST (gluten-free or not)
If you don’t need to eat gluten-free just crumble up the cookie part of some store-bought Oreos and mix the crumbles with a bit of softened butter. Making the gluten-free oreo crust is a bit of effort, but I found it to be worth the trouble! I know that there is supposed to be a lime shortage, but I was able to get key limes for a good price from fresh direct…so maybe the shortage is just for regular limes? I don’t know about this lime shortage thing. You can still get 8 limes for a dollar in the super cut-rate “buy it before it rots” green grocers in my less than glamourous neighborhood, so maybe the jokes on everyone living in a fancier areas who is willing to spend a dollar for just 2 limes. I do think that it is important to use key limes rather than regular ones for this recipe.
adapted from gluten-free girl. Makes 16 mini tarts using 1/4 cup of crumbs per tart shell or 2 pies using 2 cups of crumbs for each pie.
- 2/3 cup sweet rice flour
- 1/2 cup white rice flour
- 1/4 cup teff flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- (10 tablespoons) room-temperature butter
- 1 large egg
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a hand mixer or standing mixer on a low-speed, combine the sweet rice flour, white rice flour, teff flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
- Add large pieces of the butter and continue to process on low until they are incorporated.
- Add the egg and mix well until a crumbly dough is formed.
- Pour the crumbly dough out onto the parchment paper lined cookie sheet and spread it out evenly. You do not need to bother with patting it down or forming it in any way it will melt into one big cookie on its own.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the outside edges look a little overdone.
- Let the giant cookie cool while you make the key lime filling.
KEY LIME FILLING
- Butter for the tart tin(s)
- 2 14 oz cans of sweetened condensed milk
- 8 large egg yolks (save the egg whites to make halva meringues or almond fennel cake or pistachio financiers)
- 2 Tablespoon of key lime zest plus extra for garnish (from about 2 pound of key limes)
- 1 cup key lime juice with all of the seeds strained out (squeezed from about 2 pound of key limes)
- Lower the oven temp to 325 degrees. Generously butter 16 small tart tins or 2 pie tins.
- Whisk the sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, lime zest and lime juice together in a medium bowl.
- Break the cooled cookie into smaller pieces and whir it up in a food processor (or put it in a big zip lock bag and bang on it) until it becomes a crunchy fine crumbs. Press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the tart tins or pie tins (1/4 cup for each small tart tin and 2 cups for each pie tin).
- Divide the key lime filling between the tart or pie tins.
- Bake the tarts or pies for 15-17 minutes or until the center is set but still wiggles when nudged. Let them cool on a wire rack then chill in the fridge for a couple of hours and sprinkle with more lime zest before serving.
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