Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Strawberry Pie Recipe

 Pie - not to be confused with Pi, which is a mathematical constant. The number pi (symbol: π) /paɪ/ is a mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, and is approximately equal to 3.14159.  Remember that? You don't need it for this recipe.   P I E pie is something deliciously good to eat.  Guess which one we prefer?

You can make a one crust pie, top crust pie (sometimes called cobbler), or two crust pie.  Do you have a preference?  Personally, they are all good in my book.

Strawberries.  Red.  Juicy.  Delicious.  Local strawberries are the best, but are only in season for about a month in the spring, usually late April or the month of May.  Last year it was warm and dry and berries were gone by the first of May.  This spring, it has been cool and damp and we are still able to buy local berries because they did not come in until about the second week of May.  The weather is the main indicator of when berries will be available.

The first garden strawberry was grown in France during the late 18th century.  Prior to this, wild strawberries and cultivated selections from wild strawberry species were the common source of the fruit.  Records show that wild strawberries were being cultivated as far back as the 1500's.  Needless to say, they were only available for short periods of time.  Now, due to strawberries being grown in plasticulture and some green houses, they are available all year round.  The biggest difference between the year round berries and local berries is the local berries are a bit smaller, sweeter, and much juicier than the "store bought" variety available during the year.  

We are always excited when the local berries become available.  We are happy to just wash them off and eat them right out of the container they are so sweet and good.  But, of course, the uses for strawberries are plentiful.  Strawberry shortcake is one of the most well known ways to eat strawberries.  You can make preserves with them, lots of desserts, eat them over ice cream, or make strawberry smoothies and milkshakes.  Yum.  

I had bought a gallon of fresh strawberries at the local Farmer's Market and knew I would make some strawberry pies with them.  I had just cleaned my house for my sister's weekend visit and didn't want to mess up the kitchen floor making crusts so I sent Dan to the store to buy some pre made deep dish pie crusts. (Yes, I have flour everywhere when I make pie crusts.)  Someone didn't read the label and came home with regular pie crusts, so my pies are a little less "deep dish" that I would have liked, but it didn't make a whole lot of difference when it came to eating them, just in the looks.  Here is what you need to make one pie.

1 deep dish pre made pie crust or make a single crust from scratch, bake according to directions, remove from oven and let cool before filling.

Pie Filling

1  quart whole fresh strawberries
1 cup white sugar
3 TBSP cornstarch
3/4 cup water

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Remove the stems and caps from all the berries.  Wash and let drain.  Pat dry. 

Arrange 1/2 of the strawberries in the baked pastry shell.  You may want to cut some of the larger ones in half so they lay flat in the pie crust.  Mash remaining berries and combined with sugar in a medium saucepan.  Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the contents to a boil, stirring frequently.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water.  Gradually stir the cornstarch mixture into the boiling strawberries mixed with sugar.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture thickens., stir often to keep from sticking or scorching.  If you have never made this kind of filling, the mixture will thicken rather suddenly, so don't get discouraged thinking it will never happen.  It will.  

Pour the mixture over the berries in the baked pie crust.  Chill several hours before serving.

Make Whipped Cream

Put the chilled heavy whipping cream in a deep bowl.  Mix with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks begin to form.  Add 1 - 2 TBSP sugar and 1 tsp vanilla.  Continue to whip until stiff peaks form.  Stiff peaks means they will stand on their own without falling over.   Spread the whipped cream over the chilled pie, serve.  Try not to eat it all yourself.  Good luck.

This is a really easy recipe and contains no additives or chemicals from artificial contents that some recipes use.  It is also super delicious!  Dan has had waaaaaaay too many pieces at this point, but that's okay.  Just confirmation for how good the pies are.  

If you still have local berries available, you will really want to make at least one of these pies if not more.  You can use berries from the grocery store if you don't have access to the smaller, sweeter, local berries.  Actually, you can make this recipe all year long using imported berries.  Nothing wrong with that!  It's all good.

Once you make this recipe, you are going to want to make more.  Betcha.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Doubtless, God could have made a better berry (than the strawberry), but doubtless, God never did.
William Allen Butler

Monday, June 3, 2013

Fresh Peach and Blueberry Bread - Delicioso!

 Here we are in the first week of June already.  This year is flying by.  Today, we got to attend our 6 year old grandson's "bridge" ceremony which is a Waldorf education celebration of moving from kindergarden to the halls of higher learning, better known as first grade.  As I watched him cross the bridge from the land of childhood, play, and imagination, into the land of higher learning where the road to maturity begins, my heart was filled with joy.  The teacher told a beautiful story about the land of the littles and what it was like before they chose their families and came to earth - the beautiful blue and green world of plants, animals, and minerals.  As they crossed the bridge, the teacher gave them a key to wear around their necks (the key to higher learning) and a small bag containing a gift from the animal, plant, and mineral world.  Then they received a yellow rose and joined their families.  There were tears (just in case  you wondered).  It was a wonderful way to start the week.

We had a busy weekend.  My sister, Sara, and our longtime friend, Linda, came to visit for the weekend.  We toured the city, ate a lot of good food, and even did some honky tonkin' on Broadway here in Nashville.  There is so much good music going on in this town.  Talk about a fun way to spend Saturday afternoon.  If you ever come to the city, do NOT miss all the music.  Nashville is Music City, USA, after all.

Knowing they were coming to visit, I baked some goodies to have on hand.  First, I made two fresh strawberry pies which I will write about tomorrow.  Since fresh peaches are coming in from Georgia, I had some on hand that I had purchased at the Nashville Farmer's Market.  Now, there is always that conundrum of what to do with peaches after you make a cobbler, or slice some up to enjoy on cake or with ice cream.  You can always eat one whole (peeled I hope, peach skin makes me shiver), but there has to be many more things you can make with sweet, ripe, juicy peaches.

I found this recipe for peach/carrot bread on All Recipes.com.  The recipe sounded so good, but I didn't know how I felt about peaches and carrots and I really didn't want to stand and grate carrots.  Personally, I prefer peaches and blueberries.  I often add blueberries to my peach cobbler because they complement each other so beautifully.  I had blueberries on hand, so I substituted blueberries for the carrots.  Guess what?  It works!  It works superbly!!  This bread is awesome!!!!  Here is what you need.

3/4 cups chopped pecans
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups peeled, chopped fresh peaches
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs lightly beaten

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl using a spoon.  Pour the batter into a 9 x 5 loaf pan that has been lightly greased and floured.  Place in a 350 degree preheated oven and bake for 1 hour and 5 to 10 minutes.  Test the center of the loaf with a skewer in the center until it comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool before removing from the pan.
This recipe makes a very large loaf.  It fills the loaf pan to the top when baked, so be sure and bake it until very done in the center.  I took mine out at 1 hr 5 minutes and tested it with a toothpick.  The toothpick showed clean, but the bread was a little underdone in the center when we ate it.  (I would recommend a skewer instead of a toothpick so it goes down into the loaf further.) No one seemed to mind one bit though.  Everyone had several pieces in fact.  This is DELICIOUS!
You can see the peaches and the blueberries, and the pecans add a nice texture to the bread with that lovely hint of cinnamon.  Mmm.  Mmm.  Mmm.  It's sort of like baked peach cobbler without having to make a crust.

There will be fresh peaches from now until the first part of September.  Here is a recipe  you can use that is something different, easy, and soooooo good.  Makes some loaves and freeze them.  It is awesome for breakfast or brunch.  Fabulous with coffee.  If you want to try the carrots, just use 3/4 cups grated carrots in place of the blueberries.  If you make it that way, let me know how it turns out.  We will stick with the blueberries.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

It's nice to have some home baked goods for company.  It let's them know you thought of them and wished to honor them with something from your hands and heart.  donna