I have strong emotional connections and memories associated with certain scents. I think that this is true for most people. A lot of my memories are triggered by very specific smells and most of them are good. Although some, like stale beer, are not so good.
The smell of bread baking will always remind me of my Grandma’s house. When we were younger, we would spend many, many weekends and holidays at my Grandma’s house and there was always fresh bread and buns waiting for us when we got there. It was a three-hour drive from our house so Grandma had plenty of warning of our arrival, during which time she would be baking up a storm. My family laughs about how we could smell the yeasty goodness all the way from the end of the street. That was how we knew we were getting close and we didn’t have to ask “Are we there yet?” again.
The smell of sheets and pillows that are fresh from outside will always remind me of Grandma. I think that a big part of living in the country was that Grandma rarely used a dryer. I remember, even in the winter, you could find sheets and pillow cases hanging on the clothesline. To this day, even during the coldest days of winter, I put my pillows and blankets outside for a couple of hours to “freshen” them up. It is so much better than Bounce and it reminds me of Grandma’s blue bedroom with the saggy mattress and fresh feather quilts!
The smell of Oscar de la Renta perfume reminds me of high school. Back in the 80’s everyone wore Oscar. It didn’t matter which clique you belonged to or which money class you came from, whether you bought yours at Sears, The Bay, or Kmart, we all had a bottle of Oscar on our dressers. There were other perfumes that we wore all the time too, like Dior Poison and Giorgio, and some of them I still love to wear today. Currently I have Alfred Sung and Oscar on my dresser! Some of us just never want to grow up.
The smell of a wood stove reminds me of my GiGi (Grandfather). He had a wood burning stove in the garage, which was attached to the house, and he would crank the heat up on that thing until you felt like your skin was melting off. Winter or summer, it didn’t matter. That stove was on and it was staying on. And if he caught you touching that stove, you didn’t have to worry about your skin melting off, cause he’d take it off for you.
The smell of chlorine reminds me of the city park pool. Of course as an adult, I understand the need to chlorinate a public pool, but come on! We opened our eyes under that water! It’s amazing that we are not blind. Before the invention of diving toys that sank to the bottom, we used to throw pennies into the pool and have diving competitions. Whomever collected the most pennies won!
And coconut. The smell of coconut reminds me of drinking Pina Coladas, Malibu Sunrises, and Chilly Willy’s, and it reminds me of things better left forgotten. Oh – and pie! The smell of coconut reminds me of pie. Coconut cream pie and all its coconutty creamy deliciousness.
Coconut Cream Pie
I like the Tenderflake Lard recipe best. It makes a nice, flaky crust but feel free to use whatever recipe is your favorite. This recipe makes enough for 3 double crust pies or 6 pie shells.
The Tenderflake recipe:
- 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 lb (2 cups) Tenderflake lard
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ice water
In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in Tenderflake lard with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal.
In a 1 cup measure, combine vinegar and egg. Add enough ice water to equal 1 cup. Gradually add liquid to the flour/lard mixture. Add only enough water to make the dough cling together. Gather the dough into a ball and divide into six portions. Roll each portion into a ball and flatten into a disk shape. Wrap each disk with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled. Any disks that are not being used right away can be stored in the freezer.
Unwrap one disk of dough and on a slightly floured surface, roll the dough to a circle that is large enough to fit at least 1″ over the size of your pie plate. Transfer the dough to the pie plate and trim the edge to 1″ larger than the edge of the pie plate. Fold the dough under all the way around the edge and use your fingers to flute the edges. Using a fork, pierce the bottom and sides of the dough several times. Put the pie crust in the fridge for 15 minutes while the oven preheats.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Take a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper and press it into the pie plate, gently pushing it right up against the pastry. Fill the sheet of foil or parchment paper with pie weights, dried beans, dry macaroni, or uncooked rice to hold it in place. This weight helps the pie dough hold its shape while baking. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil or parchment paper with the weights and then put the pie crust back in the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Coconut Cream Pie Filling
makes enough for one pie
- 1 14 oz can coconut milk
- 1 cup 2% or whole milk
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut, flaked, shredded, or desiccated
In a medium saucepan, heat coconut milk and milk until steaming. In a small bowl, mix sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in eggs until blended. Gradually whisk about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture in thin, steady stream. Return to saucepan and add coconut, vanilla extract, and coconut extract.
Cook over medium heat, stirring slowly, for about 10 minutes or until thickened to pudding consistency. Pour into pre-baked pie crust and cover with plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight until completely cooled and set.
Fresh Whipped Cream
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
Chill the bowl and whisk attachment from your stand mixer in the fridge for 20 minutes or in the freezer for 5 minutes.
Begin by whisking the cream on medium-high speed for 2 or 3 minutes. Slowly pour in granulated sugar, vanilla extract and coconut extract. Turn mixer to high speed and whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks and will hold it’s shape. Turn out onto chilled pie and sprinkle with fresh or toasted coconut.