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Purdue University North Central Student Jennifer Seeburger with Key Lime Pie Recipe

Purdue University North Central student Jennifer Seeburger, of Valparaiso, shows her Key Lime Pie.

This week's return to weather temps flirting with 70 degree temps might have some Florida "snowbirds" questioning whether the month of November is too soon to return to The Sunshine State.

Despite the orange association with Florida, on July 1, 2006, both the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate passed legislation hailing Key lime pie as the "official pie" of the state of Florida.

Even though November is a month connected with pumpkin pie as the prized dessert highlight for menus, one of the students from my Purdue North Central public speaking class has me convinced Key lime pie makes an attractive serving alternative.

In last week's column, I highlighted the student winners from the eighth annual Purdue University Calumet Intramural Baking Contest on campus in Hammond and the top scoring cake judged to honor Purdue University Calumet turning 70 this year.

To be fair, I've decided to feature the Key lime pie recipe created by student Jennifer Seeburger, of Valparaiso, at sister campus Purdue North Central. She made one of these quick and easy pies earlier this semester for her demonstrative speech assignment.

According to her fascinating research, the "key" ingredient has to be the juice of Key limes, as opposed to the traditional and larger glowing green limes that are found in most produce sections of grocery stores. (Since March 2014, there has also been a lime shortage because of the ongoing rainy weather, bacteria infestation of orchards and the political and criminal unrest in Mexico, the top producer for the U.S. supplies.) Key limes, produced in the Florida Keys, are plucked from thorny branches that bear the small, tart yellowish rind limes. Key lime pie is traditionally made with just the basic filling created by combining the Key lime juice, egg yokes and sweetened condensed canned milk usually poured into a graham cracker crust and topped with meringue or whipped topping.

Because of the "chemical reaction" that happens when the condensed milk is combined with the lime juice and egg yokes, the filling "cooks" and thickens without the need to heat by flame or baking in an oven. However, the recipe from Purdue student Jennifer makes the filling step even easier by using a prepared jar of lime curd, alleviating any fears of the "raw" egg yokes.

The first recipes for Key lime pie circulated in the early 20th century in the Key West, Fla., regions, which were still remote and milk and dairy products didn't stay easily preserved in the hot and humid temperatures before commercial refrigeration. Canned milk, which did not spoil as easily, became a preferred pantry shelf staple in this part of the country, including a prized ship supply for the food rations for Florida fisherman who spent many weeks on fishing excursions.

Easy Key Lime Pie

Filling:

1 cup white granulated sugar

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

4 tablespoons lime curd (found in grocery aisle near pie fillings)

Crust:

1 (9-inch) prepared graham cracker crust

Topping:

Whipped cream topping, as desired

DIRECTIONS: In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the filling ingredients and use an electric mixer to blend until smooth and creamy. Pour filling into prepared pie crust and place in freezer for one hour to allow filling to thicken and set firm. Remove from freezer and refridgerate for at least two hours before serving. Add desired whipping cream topping prior to serving. Makes 10 serving slices.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

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