Friday, June 28, 2013

Strawberry Fields Forever

Nothing is more quintessentially (one of my favorite words-hard to use right) summer than strawberries...

They are usually in season here in The Mitten over summer solstice. Long-hot days, short nights, delicate white blossoms and bursts of juicy, sweet redness.

I head off to the strawberry patches once a summer.  I have since I was very young, maybe 5 or 6 years old. I think I only missed the summer Meres was born. Neither my hugely pregnant state, nor my condition as a new mother were conducive to strawberry picking that summer.

I slip on some jeans (never shorts-who wants to get their knees dirty?) and my sandals, tuck a check in my pocket, and head out before 7:00. The sun is up, but the air still has its early morning crispness.

I don't bring my kids because I don't want them trampling plants. It is me and the berries in sweet solitude.

Well, except for the other ladies and gents, and kiddos in the patch. Usually I just listen in on conversations around me. This year I was picking in a row close to a bunch of other solitary and chatty women. We had a blast. We bemoaned the size of the berries, and swapped recipes and tips. That's how berry picking should be...with girlfriends or sisters or moms.

I made it home before 9:30 and started hulling those gorgeous berries. I sliced a bunch for the freezer, and made a batch of jam. Today I am making pies.

Now, some people (ahem...Erin...), seem to think that a pie is a pie is a pie. Whether store bought or homemade, it doesn't really matter. Well, I agree that lemon meringue is pretty good either homemade or not, and apple pie is apple pie wherever you get it. But I have never had a store bought strawberry pie that remotely holds a candle to my strawberry pie. Just sayin'. All strawberry pies are not created equal. Especially not Big Boy's and Barefoot Hippie Girl's.

My boys' termed this "strawberry goodness" way back when they were 2 and 3. The moniker has stuck...
Even if you are a buy a pie kind of person, I'd urge you to make a strawberry pie. The crust is the most finicky part so buy a Pilsbury crust if you don't want to make your own. The filling is super easy and the only other thing that has to happen is hulling the strawberries. Anyone can do that! Trust me...this recipe is easy as pie...

Strawberry Pie
1 9" pie crust
Bake at 450 degrees for 9-12 minutes, until crust is golden. Cool

1-2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and washed
Arrange (or not) in the cooled crust.

1-1/3 cup water
1-1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 box strawberry jello

Cook the water, sugar and cornstarch until thick and clear. Add the jello, and cook one more minute. Cool slightly. Pour over strawberries in crust. Refrigerate until firm and cold.

Top with a nice dollop of whipping cream...

Strawberry goodness!
can anyone say "wow!"

What are your thoughts on pie? Buy them or make them? Or both?