Ranch Christmas is not like other Christmases. We don’t have pine trees. We don’t wear fur trimmed hats. The country road to the ranch next door is too dang long to go a’caroling. Forget all that snow culture…like snowball battles, making snowmen, snow angels, or snowflakes in your eyelashes…we don’t have any of that poetic snow-related jazz. We never have sleigh rides with jinglebells, but I can say we are familiar with the aroma of sitting upwind from a horse’s behind.
Key Lime Icebox Pie is a Ranch Classic
We harvest citrus in the months surrounding the holidays, so we are out of sync with the rest of the world whose harvest season is dormant. Here in the Rio Grande Valley, we are enjoying fresh grapefruit, limes and oranges alongside our tamales, our ponche navideña and our pan de polvo.
Perhaps some would think me a bit of a humbug if I opt for a more localized Christmas portrait. More cactus, more deer hunting, more bi-polar weather patterns as the days swing from 95 degrees to the rare occurrence of the overnight freeze, an event that sends us into panicked prayer mode as we helpless watch our orchards, crops and livestock suffer. Thankfully for holiday festivities, seriouly wacky weather doesn’t hit until January.
This year, I am going to look at what our local Christmas means, which for me is Key Lime Icebox Pie. The trees are simply loaded with limes right now, and it would seem a shame to spend my time whipping up hot chocolate or plum pudding when limes are what we are currently harvesting. For us, hot weather, cool citrus, and chilled desserts are still very December.
We Enjoy Fresh Limes in the Winter
This is an old recipe, which I have spiffed up with some Merengue Kisses. Both recipes are very easy to make with what you have on hand. But like anyplace else during Christmas time, you can expect holiday visitors. It’s a good idea to be prepared.Print
- Prep Time: 20 min
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings
- Category: Dessrt
- Method: Freezer
- Cuisine: US
Crust: 3.5oz graham crackers (100g – about 7 1/2 sheets) 6 tbsp. butter, cut into chunks (84g) 1/4 cup sugar (25g) Filling: 2 eggs, separated 14oz can condensed milk (414ml) 1/2 cup lime juice (120ml) 1 tbsp. freshly grated lime zest (6g) 1/2 tsp. vanilla (3ml) 1/2 cup sugar (50g) 2 drops green food color (optional)
Heat oven to 350°F (176°C). Grind crackers, butter and sugar until very fine in a food processor. Press crumbs into a 9″ (23cm) glass pie plate. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Whisk together egg yolks and condensed milk. When well mixed, add lime juice, lime zest, vanilla, sugar and food coloring. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into condensed milk mixture and pour into pie crust. Freeze pie until firm, at least 4 hours before serving.