It might not seem a great idea to make a pie while on vacation, away from the home kitchen, and one that I’ve never made before and was sure not to like. But I did.
At the beach, during a mostly rainy but relaxing week, my husband and number 1 pie-eater and I were discussing food. I was adding avodaco to my salad. He was not. Actually, he was making a face and dissing my avocado, which was perfectly ripened and delicious.
I asked what his problem was. He said he didn’t like the texture (smooth and creamy!) This made no sense to me so we discussed other “textured” foods and it turns out I like smooth and he likes lumpy food. Creamy vs chunky peanut butter. Nuts or no nuts in everything from banana bread to cookies to ice cream. Somehow the discussion led to coconut, and quickly to pie.
[You can guess: he likes coconut, I do not. Ick. The texture.]
Some background on my pies. I make the Crisco crust and an apple pie that is family-famous. I’d make one every day if the pie eaters could keep up. I considered opening a bakery instead of going to graduate school. This apple pie is completely from scratch. I can peel apples in one long stream of curly peel. I know the recipe so well I use it to explain limiting and excess reagents when I teach stoichiometry in my chemistry lectures. Oh, and the man who likes coconut eats my apple pie from the pan if nobody is looking.
I also make a strawberry rhubarb pie (disgusting, but for sibling birthday reasons, a yearly staple) that mimics the fame of my best husband’s mother, a legendary cook and baker. So in my heart, I know the strawberry rhubarb and apple pies are on the top of his pie list.
But there we were watching rain fall at the beach, discussing avocado vs coconut, and he remembered a delicious coconut cream pie from forty years ago, and I could tell by the smile and gleam in his eyes that he really wanted one. So I asked the pivotal question (and got a surprising answer).
I asked for a pie ranking. “What are your top three pies in order?”
With minimal think time he held up his hand, palm to the floor, above his head to visually demonstrate position and declared strawberry rhubarb in the prime spot (no surprise). He dropped his hand to the next level (he’s Italian; his hands talk) and declared coconut cream pie in second place. And broke my heart by declaring my apple pie in third place.
So, of course I had to learn to make the second place pie. I had to make him eat it in my presence.
I went to the store and learned shredded coconut comes in little bags just like chocolate chips. I went online and compared three recipes, and used this one. I used a premade graham cracker crust, low fat Cool Whip, learned how to toast the coconut on a cookie sheet (why?), and made the thing that day. I stirred my arm off for for 40 minutes over the not-quite-yet boiling custard as it thickened and I wondered why a box of pudding wouldn’t work. The pie shell was too small, so I made a consolation dessert with 3/4 cup of the custard (before the coconut was added!) on a bowl of chunky sliced strawberries, which I topped with Cool Whip (all for the cook).
It was a beautiful pie.
He LOVED it. Immortalized its position between strawberry rhubard and apple pie. The last slice was eaten from the pan.
And a beach pie tradition is born.