Monday, August 20, 2012

a walk down memory lane

I don't need to look at the calendar to know that fall is coming...all I have to do is look at the insect activity in our yard.  Big grasshoppers are very active in early autumn, and they're everywhere right now.  Clinging to the fence...

...or to plant stems.

They're unlikely beauties, but look closer.  I've always thought that they have an almost military appearance, from their camo-patterned faces to the armored plating over the necks.  Besides that, I like their tidy antennae, little segmented feet, and their big eyes, shiny as a piece of glass.  Yes, I think there's beauty here. 

I've been a bit nervous about the black swallowtail caterpillar this year.  They feed on my bronze fennel and queen anne's lace, but the drought completely decimated those plants.  The recent rains have rejuvenated them a bit, but they're still a pale shadow of last year's offerings.  Today, though, I saw a single black swallowtail caterpillar.  It's a start!

And, what do you know...I also saw a black swallowtail butterfly.

I've been slowly getting back into knitting again.  I bought some beautiful grey yarn...

...and am putting the finishing touches on a Christmas gift.  I won't show the whole thing, but here's part of the stranded knitting...a motif of little birds.

When uploading some photos today, I accidently scrolled back to late August/early September 2011.  It was interesting to see what I was doing a year ago. 

I was just starting a project...

...that became one of my favorite finished knitted pieces ever.

I was making fortune cookies...

...and jam!

Tabby was still svelte enough to chase her tail though the slats of our kitchen chairs...

...and I was bringing in big bouquets of fall flowers.

Todd was in the home stretch for his dissertation...but he wouldn't be Dr. C for another two months!

Those things seem so long's hard to believe it was just last year.  Now, let's come back to the present, because in the here and now, we have pie.  I'm not talking about weak, crumbly, now-what-kind-was-that-again? pie - I'm talking about rich, flavorful, decadent pie that you'll be thinking about for weeks after you've eaten it...or am I the only one?  :)  This recipe comes from my favorite new cookbook, and once again, I highly encourage you to check it out - every recipe I've tried has been a winner.

Coconut Cream Pie
Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook
Makes one pie

Pie ingredients
6 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons corn starch
5 egg yolks, beaten
2 cups half-and-half
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 3/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Pie crust ingredients
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (16 crackers)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted

Fresh whipped cream ingredients
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 - 1/2 cup powdered sugar

First, make your pie crust.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Blend together the graham cracker crumbs and the sugar, and drizzle your melted butter over the mixture.  Combine and press into a 9 inch pie pan.  Bake for 6 to 8 minutes and set aside to cool.

Pie time!  Combine the sugar, salt, cornstarch, and egg yolks and blend well.  In a saucepan, heat your half-and-half to the boiling point and remove from heat.  Whisk a cup of it into your egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly.  Keep whisking and add the remaining half-and-half.

Now, the cookbook asks you to to stir this mixture over a boiling pot of water for 5 - 7  minutes, until it thickens.  I've been making my own pudding for years and it's a cinch to do in the microwave.  Just microwave for a minute, stir, and repeat until it's thick.  I tried following the boiling pot method and my mixture was still soupy after 15 minutes.  Three minutes in the microwave?  Done.  Take your pick! 

After your mixture is thickened and cooled for a few minutes, whisk in the butter, vanilla, coconut extract, and 1 cup of coconut (I like a lot of coconut so I stirred in a bit more!).  Place a piece of plastic wrap over the top so that a 'skin' doesn't form and put in in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, until it's room temperature or cooler.  Then, spoon into your cooled crust.

 To make fresh whipped cream, pour your heavy cream into the mixing bowl and whip on medium speed until it starts to thicken.  You can add the powdered sugar and whip until you reach the desired consistency.  Spread a thin layer on top of the pie...

You can just spread the whipped cream on top, or put it in a pastry bag with an M1 tip to make stars.
I like stars, so that's what I did.

It only takes a few minutes to cover the whole pie!

Toss a handful of toasted coconut on top...

Slice...and enjoy.  It's so good!  You're only an hour from the random thought, "I'd love some great pie!" to this:

Just try to fit in an extra class at the gym.  :)

Have a great week! 

1 comment:

  1. OMG that pie looks delish! I love cream pies, coconut, chocolate, banana...YIKES I'll have to work in a few more classes and runs and swims because I'd be eating the entire thing. Once I get going, it's hard to stop me. :D