Helaine Klein is a retired public relations executive who now spends all of her time making pies. She is, in fact, a prolific pie-maker. Ms. Klein makes so many pies a week, she ends up giving most of them away.
"I don't make the pies because I expect something in return," she explains, "I make the pies because I have to."
Ms. Klein gives them to neighbors, friends, the dog walker, the security detail that patrols her block, even her physician's nurse. "Those women are the real heroes," she says.
The recipients of her pies show their gratitude by leaving gifts of flour, sugar, and baking powder on her porch.
"Often I come home to find the most exquisite collection of fresh eggs from my neighbor's three yard chickens," Ms. Klein gushes, "It really is extraordinary."
Urban farmers, all the rage in her zip code, leave offerings as well.
"Basil, tomatoes, fennel, ingredients I don't know what to do with, to be honest," she chuckles, "But I am eager to learn."
Today she inspires us with her recipe for Rhubarb-Coconut Pie.
"It says summer to me," Ms. Klein says, longingly.
Egg Yolks: 3 slightly beaten
Sugar: ¾ cup
Salt: ¼ teaspoon
Water: ¼ cup
Flour: 4 tablespoons
Butter: 2½ tablespoons, melted
Fresh Rhubarb: 4 cups, cut in ½-inch pieces
9-inch Pie Shell: 1, unbaked
Egg Whites: 3
Water: ⅓ cup
Coconut: ¾ cup, shredded
Mix egg yolks, sugar, salt, water. Blend in flour and butter. Add rhubarb, mixing thoroughly. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake in a hot oven (425°F) for 45 minutes, or until both filling and crust are done. Beat egg whites until foamy; add ⅓ cup sugar gradually, beating well after each addition. Beat until mixture stands in peaks. Fold in coconut and pile coconut-meringue over filling. Top with additional coconut and bake in hot oven (425°F) about 8 minutes or until delicately browned.
She gives Martha a bad name.