Mom’s pie awards evoke sweet memories


His eyes lit up like the 4th of July. His smile grew even wider.
I had just informed Eric, my 15-year-old, six-foot-three, 230-pound high school sophomore son, that his
Grandma (Nancy) Adler had won blue-ribbon and "Best of Show" honors at the 2009 Wood County
Fair for her homemade peach pie.
"Not surprising, she’s the best cook ever," he proclaimed, on a sweltering summer Sunday while
shopping for football cleats. And then, "Wow, a coconut cream pie sounds really good, Mom.
Reeeeally good."
Feeling somewhat guilty (When was the last time I’d made a pie?), I conceded. Coconut cream pie it would
We found just the right cleats, then just the right restaurant to satisfy his love of those Italian
"pies" we call pizza.
"Are you sure you really want coconut cream? I thought you only liked pumpkin," I asked when we
arrived home. His look told me not to ask again.
I turned to my favorite family recipes collection and found "Mom’s Coconut Cream Pie" staring
at me. Admiring her beautiful handwriting, I was reminded of the outcome of just about every pie she’s
ever made. From rhubarb (picked from her backyard), to strawberry (a frequent request by her winter
Florida friends), to lemon meringue (always a favorite of her Card Club colleagues) and of course, her
award-winning fresh peach, Mom can create a pie to suit anyone’s taste – even a picky 15-year-old’s.
Gathering the ingredients, I wondered and worried: Will it turn out anywhere near Mom’s? Is it really
going to be worth the time and effort?
What transpired was a whole lot more than I could have imagined.
While stirring the ingredients at an ever-so-steady pace (don’t cook it too fast or it’ll scorch), I
drifted back decades ago to mornings helping Mom bake pies for the St. Louis Church festival, our farm
hands, a funeral dinner, a family reunion, or "just because."
There we were in the hot kitchen, the baked pie crusts neatly lining the table, Mom mastering the
meringue, me stirring the creamy coconut concoction (see recipe, at right).
On any other day, I might have mulled over the million other things on my to-do list. Instead, I savored
the sweet memories. Like the time Dad insisted we use every last cherry from the tree he had planted a
few years earlier. In a single day, we made a dozen cherry pies and two dozen jars of jelly. Or the time
I made him a fresh peach pie, savoring each bite, just a week before he died.
The meringue now browning in the oven, Eric brought me back to reality and asked the proverbial,
"How much longer, Mom?" I repeated the words my Mom used to say, "Soon, but coconut cream
pie has to be cold before you can cut it."
It was late. He would wait.
The next day, I picked him up from his first two-a-day football practice of the season. Sweat soaking
every inch of his body, the first words out of his mouth were not, "I’m so tired" or "I
hurt all over." Instead, "I can’t wait to have a piece of that pie, Mom."
And in the words of famous writer and humorist Erma Bombeck – "Life is short. Eat dessert
first." – he did exactly that.
His eyes lit up like the 4th of July. His smile grew even wider.
Now, that’s a memory I’ll always cherish – and a recipe you can’t find anywhere.
Former Wood County resident
Now a resident of Marion, Adler Wigton is director of marketing and development for Delaware County
Habitat for Humanity. Contact her at
[email protected]
Mom’s coconut cream pie
In saucepan over medium heat, stir:
2/3 c. white sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 ½ Tbs. cornstarch
1 Tbs. flour
3 c. milk
Heat and stir until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Pour ½ mixture into 3 slightly beaten egg yolks
(save egg whites). Add remaining mixture. Return to stove; cook and stir 1 minute longer. Remove from
heat. Add 1 Tbs. butter and 1 ½ tsp. vanilla. Stir in ¾ c. coconut. Pour into baked 10-inch pie shell.

Make meringue:
To 3 egg whites, add 1 tsp. cream of tarter. Beat with mixer on high speed. Slowly add 2/3 c. white
sugar. Continue beating ’til soft peaks form. Pile on pie, making sure meringue meets crust. Sprinkle
lightly with coconut.
Bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes, watching closely to avoid over-browning.
Cool. Refrigerate before cutting. If any remains, store in refrigerator.

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