WELCOME TO PAULINE’S and the Best-ever Coconut Pie

Desserts, Salt and Pepper | October 15, 2009 | By

Update Note: Pauline now lives most of the time in NYC where she moved, in part, to fulfill her volunteer ministry with The Bowery Mission. Her legacy continues:



That’s my friend, Pauline, with three of her four children: Claudette, John and Justin.  Only Reed, the oldest, is not pictured.  I introduced you to Pauline’s parents a little while back.  They were terrific people and so is their daughter.
I doubt that Pauline has ever met a    stranger.  She must be the friendliest person I have ever known.  She is a lover of people, places, ideas and adventures.  Mostly, she is just natural.  Naturally smart.  Naturally talented.  Naturally natural.  She is what she is – no pretense.  Honest…reliable…curious…and fun!  She’s one of those people that you will swear you have known pretty much all of your life even though you may have just met her.

greetings Several years ago Pauline and her husband, Jim, began inviting their friends (a multitude of those) to their home for lunch just before school started.    It was an informal gathering, a time of good food and pleasant conversation.  Pauline carries on that tradition even though Jim passed away recently.  Always a drop-in, people would come early and many would stay late.


 Over time, attendees just adopted a job to help out.  Hubby began washing the dishes the first time he attended.  He still does even though now Pauline has an automatic dishwasher.  (She said she never wanted one while her kids were growing up.  The time spent  doing the dishes was her time to visit with them. )  Others pitch in to resupply the dishes and the food.  Pauline visits.  This is her time to make you feel like you are the guest of honor and this party has been prepared just for you.  It’s just one of those things you don’t willingly miss.  It’s tradition.  It’s Southern grace in its truest sense. 

mrs. purcell

Pinto beans, fresh homegrown tomatoes, brisket so tender is was falling apart, and Mr. Reed rolls. (THE BEST EVER!)  That was the menu then and it was this summer as well.  Simple but so good.  Serve yourself from the pots and plates on the stove and find a seat.  It may be at a table in the bedroom or a seat in the dining room.  It doesn’t matter where.  There’s great company anywhere you choose to dine.


 Did I mention the pie?  While no one will pass up the beans and rolls, the star attraction for which EVERYONE comes is Miss Pauline’s coconut pie.  It is homemade, melt-in-your-mouth perfection!  I’ve always meant to ask her exactly how many she makes for her luncheon, but have just never gotten around to doing so.  It doesn’t matter; there’s always plenty.   Hubby likes to hang around washing dishes long enough to grab a second piece before returning to the office for the day. He’s sneaky that way.  


Probably not as sneaky as Doc Bourns though.  Doc will come early to eat, return to his office, and come back just as the kitchen is closing in order to feast on yet another piece.  I don’t blame him at all.  It’s just that good.

 Everybody loves Pauline! 
 She’s Southern Belle and Southern hospitality, don’t you agree?
  freddy brenda



kitchen  kathy king

 I love tradition.  Oh, yeah.  I love her coconut pie, too:)  Try it for yourself.  It’s her original recipe.  I will warn you, though, mine just never quite measures up to hers.

 Her original recipe first appeared in our local Benton Junior Auxiliary cookbook when it was published in 1980.  She was so gracious to allow us to have it.    But, of course, you knew she would do that.  (Pauline’s on the cover by the way.) Do yourself a favor and make this pie.

coconut pie pauline



Pauline Bethel's Coconut Pie
Serves 8
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  1. 1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin
  2. 3 tablespoons cold water
  3. 2/3 cup sugar
  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  6. 2 cups milk
  7. 3 egg yolks, beaten
  8. 2 tablespoons butter
  9. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  10. 3 egg whites
  11. 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  12. 6 tablespoons sugar
  13. 1 cup moist shredded coconut
  14. 1 9-inch pastry pie shell, baked
  15. 1/2 pint whipping cream, whipped
  16. 1/4 cup coconut, toasted
  1. Soften gelatin in cold water. Set aside. Blend 2/3 cup sugar, salt and cornstarch in saucepan. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils. boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir some of the hot mixture into the egg yolks (temper), then add to remaining hot mixture. Boil one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pour through a strainer. Blend into mixture, the butter, vanilla and softened gelatin.
  2. Create a meringue by beating the egg whites until foamy adding in the cream of tartar and gradually adding in the 6 tablespoons of sugar.
  3. Pour small amounts of the hot mixture into the meringue until thoroughly blended. Fold in one cup of the coconut.
  4. Pour into the baked pie shell. Top with whipped cream and toasted coconut. Refrigerate.
Dining With Debbie https://diningwithdebbie.net/


My Never Fail Pie Crust
Yields 3
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  1. 2 cups shortening
  2. 4 cups flour
  3. 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  4. 1 teaspoon baking powder, sifted into flour
  5. juice of one lemon
  6. 1 egg
  7. 1/2 cup cold water
  1. Mix dry ingredients together. combine one-half of the shortening and one-half of the dry ingredients. Blend well with a pastry blender or knives. Add remaining shortening and dry ingredients.
  2. Combine lemon juice, beaten egg and water; pour over dough. Mix well but do not over mix as the pastry will become tough.
  1. This makes a soft dough but it is easy to handle on a well-floured board. It freezes very well. It will make three large (10-inch) pie crusts.
Dining With Debbie https://diningwithdebbie.net/







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  1. susan
    October 15, 2009

    Debbie-Pauline is beautiful and sounds like a very gracious woman. Coconut pie is one of my favorites. JA and Jr. League cookbooks are always the best! Thanks for sharing the pictures and fun.

  2. ~Country Lady~
    October 15, 2009

    Debbie, that sounds like such a fun event. Pauline sounds like a true Southern Belle! What a delight she must be. Her pie sounds yummy. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate your kindness in stopping by my blog. I appreciate that. Blessings.

  3. Lindsey
    October 15, 2009

    A true lady. She is so special. I have SO many memories with her and lots have to do with food. She has such special gifts.

  4. The Bloom Girls
    October 15, 2009

    My husband loves coconut pie! I will have to make this for him! Thanks for sharing !


  5. gonnawantseconds
    October 15, 2009

    Oh, how I wish Pauline was a friend of mine! She seems sooo lovely. Not a lot of that kind of hospitality where I live. Thanks for sharing a wonderful story and a delish looking pie! Can’t wait to try it.

  6. Rhonda @ Shellbelle's Tiki Hut
    October 16, 2009

    Thanks for all the shout outs on my cookbook giveaway!

    Coconut pie is one of my favorites. Pauline’s recipe is very similar to my Aunt Tish’s, another true Southern belle. We lost her over the summer (she was in her nineties), but her recipes are a part of our family heritage.

  7. Mary
    October 16, 2009

    Thank you for sharing that wonderful occasion with us. The pie looks wonderful and the perfect thing to share with good friends. I hope you are having a wonderful day.

  8. ButterYum
    October 16, 2009

    I love coconut!


  9. Nicole Feliciano
    October 16, 2009

    What a gorgeous recipe! I am going to tweet this right now. And I love all the family photos–you’ve told a nice story. Thanks so much for linking up at Momtrends…hope you don’t mind that I am a Vandy fan!

  10. heartnsoulcooking
    October 16, 2009

    THANKS!!! for sharing and he pie sounds wonderful.

  11. Mrs. P.
    October 16, 2009

    This looks great. My Dad lovs coconut pie…I’ll be making this next time he comes to visit 🙂


  12. Judy
    October 16, 2009

    Debbie, Thanks so much for this recipe. I’m just wondering which coconut is used — is it dried sweetened, or is it freshly grated? Would love to try this pie.

  13. manker
    October 16, 2009

    that looks awesome… as well as your fellowship.. wow.. thanx for visiting the inn 🙂 and i’d LOVE to play next wednesday .. thanx for asking


  14. Blondie's Journal
    October 16, 2009


    I wanted to come by and thank you for describing Blue Bell ice cream for me. Not being Southern, I had no idea!! We visited Charleston and Savannah for the first time last spring and I should have tried it then. Care to ship some to me?!!

    What a fun post. Pauline sounds like a lovely lady and it looks like all of you have ever so much fun at this lunch!

    Have a great weekend and thanks again! 🙂


  15. Tiffanee
    October 17, 2009

    Thanks for another great recipe and story!! Please visit my blog and receive your AWARD!!! Follow the directions and share it with others.

  16. Diann @ the Thrifty Groove
    October 18, 2009

    I might just have to attempt to make this pie! I haven’t had truly good coconut pie since my grandma passed.

  17. Mary Lynn
    September 29, 2012

    One of the most coveted lunch invites in town! ….and the coconut pie is divine!