Thirteen years ago, I started my culinary journey at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market. I had no clue what I was doing when I set my first batch of baked goods on that weathered wooden table in the outdoor market. And I am so grateful to the people who took a chance and sampled my products. They weren’t disappointed and made sure I sold out practically every week. To this day, several of them continue to support me and sing my praises to their family and friends. These customers have become friends over the years, and I have dubbed them my “Oprah Bunch”. If I had Oprah money, these are the people that I would take on an all-expenses paid 10-day Mediterranean cruise. Since I don’t have Oprah money, the best thing I can do is dedicate a blog post to each of them from time to time.
This week I want to say thank you to Richard H. He was my second customer from back in the day, and he is such a kind and generous man. Whenever he calls to order, he always puts in a request for something for his neighbor Ms. Marge, too. Richard has encouraged me from day one. My oldest son was six months old–he’ll be fourteen this summer–when I sold Richard his first blueberry muffin from Queen City Kitchen, formerly know as Queen City Sweets. The following week he went from being my second customer to my first repeat customer. We have the best time when we are together. I just love talking to him. Sometimes I even forget that I have other clients to deliver to when I drop off something at his place. We’ll start talking, and thirty minutes–sometimes an hour–will go by before I move on my merry way.
I look forward to getting an email from Richard. He usually gives me a heads up a week in advance when he’s in the mood for something sweet or needs some cocktail party nibbles. And whatever Richard wants, Richard gets. Recently, he sent me one of his delightful emails asking if I would make him a key lime pie. I returned his request with a yes and a smiley face emoji. Key lime pie is one of my favorites and perfect for the warm season. It’s also a cinch to whip up. Just throw together some graham cracker crumbs, limes, and sweetened condensed milk among other things, and viola! Key lime pie fit for a wonderful customer. And as always, Richard sent me a follow-up email thanking me for making him happy. He closed the email with some words of wisdom that I try to live by.
Slow down and enjoy the journey..take time for the people in your life..they won’t always be there.
This is why he would get a penthouse junior suite on my Oprah cruise.
Let me know when you make this recipe. Take a picture and hashtag it #QUEENCITYKITCHEN. I can’t wait to see what you post!
Key Lime Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie
12 whole cinnamon graham crackers
2 tablespoons sugar
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 large egg yolks
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condense milk
½ cup fresh lime juice (3-4 limes)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
1 tablespoon lime zest
Pinch kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Add the graham crackers, sugar, and salt to the bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade. Pulse 10 times to break up crackers. Then process until finely ground, about 20 seconds. Add the butter and process until the crumbs are evenly coated, about 10 seconds. Dump the crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan and press them in the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust until fragrant and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the crust to a wire rack to cool completely.
Beat the egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until pale and thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the sweetened condense milk and beat until thickened again, about 3 minutes. Mix in the lime and lemon juices, lime zest and salt until well combined.
Pour the batter into the cooled crust and bake the pie until set but not browned on top, about 10 minutes. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool completely. Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Beat the cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Spread the whipped cream over the chilled pie and serve.