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Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Cookin'

I usually end up making some cream pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so here's my stuff all ready to go. It's really easy.

In the oven you go!
About 30 minutes later out you come.

I learned the cream pie technique from Eurena Koonce, my little neighbor across the street in Jayton, Texas. She cooked for cowboys, probably on some of the big ranches in Kent and maybe Garza County, where her husband worked during her early marriage, and at the same time she took care of babies, washed diapers, and hung the laundry on the line to dry, and maintained the home. She was a wonderful, Christian lady, and one of the best cooks I have ever known. She taught me things that Texas Tech didn’t. One summer I made pies for the Jayton Cafe, and used her recipes for the coconut and chocolate versions--they were a big hit. Men love the coconut pie for some reason, and the ladies went for the chocolate.
Coconut Pie
3 T flour
1/2 C (rounded) sugar
1 C milk
1 C evaporated milk
3 egg yolks (I use jumbos)
1/4 C butter
1 tsp. vanilla (I'm using Mexican vanilla)
3/4 C coconut

Method of Preparation
1. Mix the flour and sugar in a heavy sauce pan. The heavier the better.
2. Separate the eggs, being very careful not to break a yolk in the white.
3. Whisk the egg yolks with the milk, and add to the flour and sugar.
4. Cook over medium heat until the mixture gets hot, and reduce the heat to avoid scorching. After this mixture gets hot, whisk constantly and don't ever let it boil.
5. Cook until thickened, but not too thick (nothing worse than a stiff filling--my opinion only).
6. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla and the butter.
7. Stir until the butter is melted; stir in the coconut, and quickly pour into a baked 9" crust.
8. Put the already prepared meringue on as quickly as possible. Sprinkle with coconut.
9. Bake in a 300 to 325 degree oven for about 25 or 30 minutes.

3 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 C coconut for the top
Method of Preparation
1. Make the meringue while the filling is heating up. This is easy if you have a Kitchen Aide mixer. If you have a hand held mixer, which I did when I cooked for the cafe, start the filling at a lower temperature so you have time to get the meringue done first.
2. Beat the egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar until stiff.
3. Gradually add the sugar 1 T at a time and beat the devil out of the meringue.
Mrs. Koonce said it is important to get that meringue on while the filling is hot so it will start cooking from the underside. That is why I make the meringue first, and then bake the meringue in a slow oven so it will heat through and through and get cooked. This keeps the meringue from weeping or shrinking after it cools. Just forget the 400 degree oven advice! I make over 300 pies for the cafe and people that summer, and this worked for me every time. I have mixed feeling about Mexican vanilla--love the flavor, but am a little scared of it. Someone said they heard the scientist guy on Good Eats say that some of these vanillas are made from tonka beans, which are a carcinogen. I guess after I use this quart I'll figure out how to make my own--darn, I sure do like the taste of Mexican vanilla. Well, the pie turned out good; I am still miserable from dinner, and I can hear the din of the Aggie/UT game, so I guess I will waddle into the living room and see how they are doing. Hope you had a great Turkey Day.


  1. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (I KNEW it was going to be a good post, just by reading the title!)

    First of all, don't worry your pretty little head over the Mexican vanilla....EVERYTHING is carcinogenic.

    Secondly, next summer we are going to forgo any sort of tamales or enchiladas and make some cream pies! Mercy.

    Give everyone a hug for me, and be sure and have some of that coconut pie for breakfast, with black, carcinogenic coffee....

  2. Oh! My! Do those look delicious!! I want you to come and make some at our ranch, hot summer or not!! This year is the first time I have every made a coconut cream pie, so I KNOW you could teach me a thing or two!!!
    Love to all...