Monday, January 6, 2014

Rose's Recipes: Joe's Favorite

Coconut Cream Pie

A favorite of my grandfather, Joe.

1 - 9-inch pastry shell, baked
1/2 C. sugar
1/3 C. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 C. milk
4 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbs. butter
4 oz. flaked coconut
1 1/2 C. heavy cream

Prepare, bake, and cool pastry shell. Mix sugar, flour and salt in medium-sized pot. Gradually stir in milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and bubbles two minutes. Beat egg yolks slightly in a small bowl and slowly stir in about half of the hot mixture. Pour back into pot. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat one minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter. Cool slightly. Chop half of coconut finely and stir into custard. Spoon mixture into baked shell. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill 4 hours or until firm enough to cut. Spread remaining coconut on a cookie sheet and toast in 300 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Just before serving, beat cream in a small bowl until stiff. Spread on top of pie and garnish with toasted coconut.

Joe's Favorite

More from my grandmother, Rose Marino's, memoirs. She was a college student at West Virginia University at the time of this excerpt and was being wooed by my married, but determined grandfather. She was a boarder in his home, which - despite his wife's departure - was about to get a lot more crowded.

Frances and Joe, with their mother, Annunciata
The day after Annie left, Guy went to Shinnston to bring their mother and sister, Frances, back to the house with us girls. They left their father there on his own.

Joe's mother and Fanny took Joe and Annie's bed. Guy and Frank slept in a small room beside that and Joe set up a very small cot behind the couch in the front room for himself.

Before going to bed that night, Joe told me to call him the next morning before I got ready for school. I doubted that Annie got him up as a rule because she was usually in bed when we went to school. I suspected his mother would be up as well, but he insisted.

I tiptoed down the stairs and sat on the edge of his cot. He immediately awoke and drew me down beside him. After several kisses, I escaped to finish getting ready for school. After dinner that evening, we rode to the Rainbow Gardens, a small dance hall, for a few hours of drinking cokes, dancing and talking.

On Sunday, I rode to Shinnston with him, his mother, little Frankie and Fanny to gather some of their things. They visited his sister, Mary, and Joe made it clear that he wanted it spread around town that Annie had left him, they were separated and he had moved his family in because this time it was final.

Wednesday, January 17, Annie's lawyer, a prominent hometown attorney, called. To Joe, this was a promising sign and it was the first time she'd ever taken such action. He, in turn, visited a local attorney to discuss procedure. To celebrate, we went to the movies and saw "Brother Rat and the Baby."

Joe and Frankie, his firstborn, around 1940
Saturday, January 27, 1940, I was nineteen. Joe brought home a decorated bakery cake and ice cream. Following a simple party with the family and the girls, we went to The Babbling Brook, another dance hall popular with the students where we danced until midnight.

As we rode home, he told me he was afraid because he loved me so much. He asked how long I was planning to hold him off when he was sure I loved him also. I told him before I gave myself to any man there would have to be a piece of paper. He assured me he was willing and there would be as soon as it was possible. I felt I had a proposal. 

He became very upset when I told him my plans to go home with my friend, Mary, on a two-day semester break. I assured him I had promised her earlier and I would not break a promise. Mary and I went to Clarksburg and spent a quiet couple of days eating her mother's good cooking, listening to the radio and socializing with her friends who came to visit.

Guy, the youngest of the Marino brothers
February 3, we returned. Joe feigned continued anger, but when he returned from the store after closing his appearance had changed and he seemed pleased to find me still downstairs reading. Guy had argued with his mother who accused him of staying out too late at night and gambling, so he had gone to bed on Joe's cot to be away from her continuous bickering.

Joe and I sat on the couch whispering and making up for two days apart. I could feel his desire as he pressed against me and repressed my attempt to protest with longer, harder kisses.

Guy stirred and rose from the cot to go to the bathroom. 

"I gotta go," he said.

"Damn him," Joe answered. "It's like Madison Square Garden here. Let's go someplace tomorrow night where we can be alone."

Knowing his disappointment, discomfort and anger, I nodded.

"Promise," he said. "We'll go to a motel. I've got to have you alone."

The following day was filled with a multitude of mixed emotions. I was in love and I was making the man I loved miserable. I was afraid, excited and nervous. After dinner, we left the house and rode for over two hours. At ten o'clock, to my relief, we returned to the house. We sat at the kitchen table having coffee. One by one, the others went to bed. We were finally alone.

For more of the story and great family recipes:
Rose's Recipes Archive

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  1. A scandalous but sweet beginning to a love that would stand the test of time! Miss them both so much, and yes, the coconut pie was yummy and would always make Dad smile!

    1. It certainly did prove to be meant to be! I'm going to have to try the pie!