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Family Pie Day

Pi. 3.141592653589793... Oh, wrong pi.

coconut cream pie
Coconut Cream Pie--after some devouring

Pie. Yum. Flaky crust cradling a sugary-something. And you don't have to eat it only on March 14th. 3/14 is National Pi Day, if you didn't know.

Kara has been asking for a coconut cream pie, Kal has been asking for banana cream pie, and I have been asking them to fold the laundry piled in the living room.

With today also being the birthday of one of my brothers, I decided this was pie day--one for him, one for us.

During house arrest, you would think I would have all the time in the world to make the right crust. The right crust is made with lard. Nothing else tastes quite as rich. I'll give you that recipe at the end of this post.

Well, cheater crust won out. I decided about 2 years ago that it's really not a sin to use the cheater pie crusts in the grocery store by (gasp!) the cheater biscuits. They just don't taste as good as homemade, but they do the job when needed. That was today.

So, cheater crusts in hand, I made pecan pie for my brother. For something that turns out so fancy and rich, it really is the easiest pie of all to make. Mix and dump. It's basically eggs, butter, sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla. Give it a whirl in the KitchenAid, and throw in some pecans.

The hard pie was coconut cream. I used to make this all the time before I had kids. I did lots of things before I had kids--like make homemade pie crusts.

Anyway, coconut cream has a pudding base and a meringue top. Those two elements take forever, using every dish in the kitchen, but the enjoyment my family had from eating it made the wreck worthwhile.

You actually have to make a real pudding on the stove. Bring the initial stuff to a boil, boil for 2 minutes, pull off the heat, add a bit into the egg yolks you separated from the whites, stir in hot filling, stir all that back into the big pan, bring to a boil, boil for two minutes, take it off the heat, add butter and vanilla plus whatever ingredient is needed for your version of a cream pie.

Did I mention you have to stand there stirring the entire time, or you'll have extra seasoning in your pudding? You know, the burn chunks?


Keep all that hot while you make the meringue. Egg whites, sugar, vanilla, and cream of tartar. Oops, we're out of cream of tartar. Oh, well, the egg whites will beat into stiff, glossy peaks without that.

Then glop, glop, glop onto the filling you kept hot, if you could keep it hot. Decorate the meringue with coconut, and bake it. Then cool it for an hour at room temperature. Then cool it for 3 or more hours in the refrigerator.

That's okay. It takes those 3 hours to clean up the mess in the kitchen.

Kara loves serving dessert. She makes the cutest little hostess, too. Tonight was as expected with her serving pie to the rest of us.

That time at the table with my family salivating over the pie that I'd blown up my kitchen for was one of the best times today. The kids thanked me repeatedly. Kris loved eating his favorite pie again, and I just loved that blessed time with my family.

Kal is already making plans for Family Pie Time tomorrow night with the leftover pieces.

I said I'd share my homemade crust recipe which is the right way to make it, so here it is before I forget. It's actually from Better Homes and Gardens with my own modifications. I got my never-follow-the-recipe-gene from Mom.

Single Pie Crust

  1. Mix 1 1/4 cups flour with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

  2. Cut in 1/3 cup lard. They call for shortening. Use lard. Cut it in until it's well blended.

  3. Make a small bowl of ice water. (The ice is important. The colder the water, the flakier the final product.) Add in 4-5 tablespoons of the water, and mix lightly with a fork. Over-mixed dough will be tough. Tough isn't good in pie crust.

  4. Knead the dough one or two times only to form a ball from the dough, then roll it out on a floured surface. You'll need to sprinkle flour all over the dough before rolling, or you'll be tempted to say some bad words, and that would be bad form.

  5. Pie crust is ready to use.

Our pie tonight had flaws. I didn't form aluminum foil in the crust while it was baking to help it keep its shape, so the crust sank a bit. Some days, I just don't go all the way when I could. (It just doesn't matter sometimes to go all-out.)

Plus, the meringue has beads on it. Big uh-oh when perfection is the goal. Well, it wasn't the goal today. Just done and yummy.

And, boy, was it ever good!


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