One of my hobbies is maintaining a state of constant confusion amongst my extended family as to my sexual orientation. The idea of keeping them guessing came to me after a strange conversation with my grandmother, who in the middle of casual conversation told me that if I was gay, it was okay. I'm straight, and not at all offended that someone would think I wasn't, but it was odd. What was it about me that made my grandma think I needed a good gay pep-talk? My bobbed hair? My no husband? What? Did it matter? A good person would have said something like "grandma that's really nice of you to tell me that, but I'm not gay". I, however, am not a good person. An imp stirred in me. I gave her no details or thanks. I just smiled and said "when do we eat?" Thus, the idea was born.

Last summer I became interested in baking pies from scratch, which I think people generally found confusing, and not just sexually. Me - who had never done a domestic thing in my life up until that point. The short-haired-no-husband-might-be-a-lesbian was now trying to be some kind of '50s housewife? What gives?

Well, what gives is nothing, really. I just suddenly became really interested in baking pies. And since then I've made a cherry pie, a strawberry, a blueberry and a key lime. And I have to say that almost all of them have turned out really well. I love making fruit pies with lattice crusts on top, it's so rustic and picnic-y and cute. As summer is a few days old and it's getting nice and hot and nothing reminds me of summer more than coconut, I made a coconut cream pie of my own quick and dirty recipe. And I was thinking I should make a little series about pies, since I love making them so much. This will be the first of many pies I will make this summer:

Coconut Cream Pie

1 box instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 frozen pie shell
whites of 3 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Thaw pie crust and prick the bottom (he he, prick) with a fork. Bake at 350 until lightly brown, about 10 minutes. Remove and let cool. Follow directions on vanilla pudding and assemble. Mix 1/2 cup of shredded coconut into the pudding and pour into the pie shell. Leave to cool until room temperature.

Take cooled egg whites, add salt. Whip until stiff, glossy peaks form. Spread on top of pie, making sure the meringue touches the sides of the crust so it doesn't shrink. I've found a good way to do this is put a blob of meringue next to the edge with a spatula and press down on top of the blob to make it touch. Get a little creative making peaks and valleys with your meringue. Sprinkle shredded coconut on top of the meringue. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Of course, being a complete pig, I tried to eat a piece of this pie before it cooled, and it sort of caused a flood of hot pudding into the empty piece, so I couldn't cover up my crime when I took the cooled pie into work the next day. "Why does this one piece have no meringue or crust?" Fuck you. That's why.

I promise I will make more creative, from scratch pies that aren't so instant, but we are warming up here. More to come.

Happy summer!




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