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Turning an offer of oranges into two lemon pies

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POSTED December 20, 2012 12:48 a.m.

It was suppose to be a gift of oranges from a backyard tree in Ripon, but it ended up with a lemon pie.

I had stopped at the Ripon Chamber of Commerce last week to check on story possibilities when longtime worker Bonnie Nutt asked if I liked oranges.  She had more than she needed coming ripe on a tree at home. It was good, sweet fruit she didn’t want to go to waste.

In return I asked if she had any need for lemons.

She said yes and it sealed our sweet and sour exchange.  I drove home where I clipped a couple short branches with the yellow fruit hanging ready to be picked.

Bonnie was appreciative as I handed her the lemons before going on my way.  Stopping at the chamber office again a couple days later to check on a story there was something waiting for me covered in aluminum foil. 

Bonnie made sure that I didn’t walk out the door without her gift. I thought it was oranges.

I picked it up and started heading for the door while thanking her for the “oranges.”

That prompted a quick retort from Bonnie, “That’s not oranges – look again!”

So that promise of oranges turned into a lemon pie.  As for the oranges, I haven’t seen any yet, but there’s always tomorrow.

When thinking about lemon pie, I still have an aftertaste of one made by a good friend of ours some 50 years ago when we were living on Fir Street in Manteca.  There were three couples on that block who were close. They were all married with young children.  We shared watermelon in the summer on someone’s front lawn – and then there was that lemon pie.

I talked to the former Fir Street pie chef and asked her for the recipe this week.

She told me she used Borden’s condensed milk having found the recipe a half century ago on the back of the label that she peeled off the can.  It was made with a graham cracker crust and a half cup of lemon juice.

I’m not mentioning her name because she promised if I didn’t use it  I’d get one of her best lemon pies direct from her oven for New Years.

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