2013 has come and gone and here we are finishing off the first week of 2014 already. If I had to sum up 2013 in one word, it would be: “transition”. Or maybe it should be: “faith”, I’m not sure. It was a year of many changes–some of which were by choice, some of which were thrust upon me whether I wanted change or not. I lost a job and a friend, and left a community. But I also found employment again (changing jobs twice after getting laid off), reconnected with other friends–even making new ones (because of this blog!), and learned a little about what it means to put others before yourself (because I was the recipient of such generosity). 2013 was a year of remembering that life is an ongoing lesson that perspective and faith in God’s unchanging love for me are what really ground me, and not what is tangible here and circumstantial. I certainly don’t have everything figured out by any means, but isn’t it usually the first step of faith that’s always the hardest, and each one thereafter grows easier and easier to take.
Now it’s time to face 2014 and all that lies ahead. I’m not really one to make resolutions for New Year’s, although there is something about the idea of a new year and starting it off “right”. I didn’t get a chance to really sit down and think about what I’d like to see for this year until this weekend. Some are not really resolutions, but rather things I’d like to work toward or develop–I think some of these will really be lifelong pursuits, not just for 2014. Loosely in order from most superficial to most essential:
1) Get stronger–While I mean this in the physical sense mostly, I think it takes mental strength to get there as well. Along with circumstantial changes in 2013, I feel like this body of mine is not what it used to be. Sadly, I can’t eat the goodies I want to eat (especially since this blog requires it) without greater repercussion than before, which means either I stop eating my desserts (not an option) or I start building more muscle to burn off what I eat (slightly better option).
2) Take a photography class–I’ve never taken one and I think I could use some professional tips and advice.
3) Read more–I don’t know when I became such a couch potato but vegging out in front of the TV has become a favorite pastime. I want to keep my mind open, and picking up my Kindle again sounds like a good idea (although I’m still pretty excited about Downton Abbey and Sherlock airing this month! Since they’re on PBS, that’s like reading a book, right?).
4) Be humble and kind–I feel that these two qualities go hand in hand. I have always really admired those who are truly kind, who see others as more important as themselves (not because they feel they are any less important, but because they aren’t thinking about themselves all the time), and who don’t seek to promote themselves over others. I know how prone I am to think of myself first, so I’m pretty sure character change in this department can’t come from me alone.
5) Lastly, have joy–I sometimes meet elderly people who, instead of being fearful of death or bitter, are content, peaceful, and hopeful, even if they have faced (or are facing) dire circumstance. Nothing can phase them because they know that there is more to life than what’s before them, than what they’ve gone through. Maybe it’s perspective. But that’s the kind of joy I want to have.
Recipe notes: I guess in line with goal #1 above, I heavily modified this recipe for coconut cream pie from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook to see if using what are currently deemed healthier alternative ingredients would work. I don’t think fat content is really much lower, but I like the idea of eating fewer processed foods. So instead of butter for the graham cracker crust, I used coconut oil. And for the coconut cream filling, I thought why not use real coconut cream instead half and half and coconut extract. Since this is a coconut cream pie after all, using coconut sugar, which also has a caramel flavor, would work instead of regular granulated sugar. With all these substitutions, the results exceeded my expectations, and my “taste testers” raved about it. The recipe I provide below is what I did for substitutions, though I also indicate what the original recipe called for. I also modified some of the techniques from the book (e.g. making the graham cracker crust with the food processor).
Graham Cracker Crust
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (16 crackers)
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 4 T. coconut oil (or 8 T. unsalted butter), melted
Coconut Cream Filling
- 6 T. coconut sugar (or regular granulated sugar)
- 1/8 t. sea salt
- 3 T. corn starch
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1 cup coconut cream*
- 1 cup low fat milk*
- 2 T. unsalted butter
- 1 t. vanilla extract
- 1 cup flaked coconut
Whipped Cream Topping
- 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3 T. powdered sugar
- 1/2 t. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup flaked coconut, lightly toasted
Graham Cracker Crust
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
- In a food processor (or using a fork), pulse together graham crackers and brown sugar.
- Pour in melted coconut oil (or butter), and continue to pulse together until just combined.
- Press crust mixture onto the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9" pie dish.
- Bake for about 6 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Coconut Cream Filling
- Beat together sugar, salt, cornstarch, and egg yolks in a heatproof bowl.
- Mix together coconut cream and milk, bring to just almost boiling in a saucepan.
- Slowly whisk about one cup of the coconut cream and milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper the yolks, then slowly whisk in the remaining coconut cream until combined.
- Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a simmer. Place the mixture bowl over the simmering water (the bowl should not touch the water), and whisk continuously until mixture is thickened (approximately less than 10 minutes).
- Remove the bowl from heat, and allow to cool for about 2 minutes, then whisk in butter, vanilla, and 1 cup of coconut flakes.
- Cover coconut cream with plastic wrap so that it rests on top of the cream, so as to prevent a film from forming; allow to cool to room temperature.
Whipped Cream Topping
- On medium-high speed, using the whisk attachment, beat cream in a chilled bowl until it begins to thicken.
- Add sugar and vanilla extract, and continue to whip until soft peaks form (or until desired consistency, though be careful not to overwhip).
- Fill pie crust with cooled coconut cream filling.
- Fill a pastry bag with the whipped cream, and pipe about half of the whipped cream to cover the surface of the pie. Spread to make surface even with an offset spatula.
- Pipe remaining whipped cream in swirls, using a star tip, then sprinkle the toasted coconut flakes on top.
- You can serve the pie immediately or refrigerate before serving.
*Original recipe calls using 2 cups of half and half, and 1 t. coconut extract, which I substituted by using 1 cup of coconut cream and 1 cup of milk.
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