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Aunt Myrtle's lemon pie

A woman standing next to a table.
Myrtle (Jensen) Johnson, c.1915

I was recently introduced to my husband’s Great-Aunt Myrtle—who died nearly 40 years ago—through her lemon pie filling. We were at a cousin’s house who had made the pie filling to serve as a cheesecake topping. It was delicious, with just the right combination of sweet and tart.

This prompted me to get out my husband’s copy of the Jensen Family Cookbook. There it was, “Lemon Pie,” on page 117. Under the recipe was written “NOTE: Aunt Myrtle was famous for her lemon pies!”

That was good enough for me. I decided to make it for the upcoming church pie baking contest. The ingredients were simple: sugar, water, egg yolks, cornstarch, butter and one lemon. Boil, cool, boil, pour into a baked pie shell, then “bake in a slow oven” for 10 to 12 minutes. Simple, affordable and tasty!

Myrtle Jensen was born in Spring City, Utah in 1894 but travelled to southern Alberta by horse-drawn wagon with her Danish parents when she was just 2 years old. She married Leith Johnson in 1917 and together they raised a family of eight children through the ups and downs of world wars, the death of a child, and the everyday challenges of prairie living. Myrtle died in 1983 at the age of 88, but her memory lives on.

And the pie baking contest? Great-Aunt Myrtle’s Lemon Pie tied for first place! A fitting tribute to a wonderful recipe and a nod to the woman who shared it.

Note: This recipe is perfect for a small pie plate; for larger pie plates, adjust the recipe by 1.5.


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