In strawberry pie, all the ingredients for holiday tradition


June 02, 1993|By ROB KASPER

It was a weekend of back-to-back strawberry pies. The two glorious pies were made with local berries, freshly whipped cream and a borrowed recipe.

Pie No. 1 was devoured Saturday night in about 40 minutes. Pie No. 2 was dessert for Sunday's supper. Two pieces of the Sunday night pie were hidden in the fridge for safe keeping. And on Monday morning, in what I hope will be the start of a Memorial Day tradition, two pieces of strawberry pie with whipped cream were eaten as breakfast.

The best strawberries are sold at stands sitting on the wrong side of the road. Saturday, for instance, our luggage-laden station wagon was shooting toward the Atlantic Ocean on U.S. 50. Somewhere outside Salisbury, pickers were sited working in a field. A sign appeared reading: "Strawberries, U Pick or We Pick." We were headed East, the stand was on the westbound side of the highway. "That looks good," said my wife, the family pie-maker. This was my cue to go into my Indianapolis 500 driving routine. Mirrors were checked. Brakes were applied. Turn signals flashed. A turn-around point was found. And in a few minutes the car was sitting in the dusty parking lot of Bennett's strawberry stand.

My heart was pounding from the excitement. The kids, freed from the confines of the car, were either racing through a nearby field or lobbying for soft drinks. The pie-maker was eyeing berries. After some prodding, two quarts of plump berries were selected, the kids were collected, another U-turn was executed, and we were back on the road, headed in the right direction. It was nerve-wracking, but that night as I ate forkfuls of ripe berries floating in cool cream, all the cares of the world faded, including ,, that guy who blasted me with his horn.

Like most good recipes, this one came from a friend and neighbor. During the 11 years or so our families have known one another, I have feasted on Cheryl Magazine's pies. I have not been alone. At neighborhood potluck suppers I have seen pillars of restraint turn into giddy school kids as they were presented with slices of her fruit pies.

Before leaving town to take a job in Hartford, Conn., Cheryl passed the strawberry pie recipe to me. She got the recipe from Elaine Corn, a friend and former food editor of the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal. The recipe called for using crushed pecans in the pie crust, but when my family got to the ocean this weekend, we didn't have nuts. So a substitute crust, pulled from a 1944 edition of "The Good Housekeeping Cookbook" was used. It worked fine. But just to be sure, we went out and bought more strawberries, and made a second pie.

Strawberry pie

Serves eight

whipping cream

1 warm 9-inch baked pie shell (recipe follows)

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons sugar

3 dozen whole perfect strawberries, washed & hulled

2 cups sliced strawberries

1/2 cup water

1 cup sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons corn starch

1 tablespoon butter

While pie crust is still warm, sprinkle with the melted butter and 2 tablespoons of sugar and set aside to cool. Place whole berries, tips up, in concentric circles inside crust.

In medium saucepan combine the remaining ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook over medium heat, about 5 minutes until thick and clear. Pour this glaze over tips of berries. Chill pie. Slice into wedges and serve topped with whipped cream.

Pie crust

Makes two 9-inch shells

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup shortening

5 tablespoons cold or ice water

Sift flour and salt into large bowl. Drop shortening onto flour and cut with 2 table knives or pastry blender until flour coated particles are size of peas. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pressing together moistened particles with your hand or a fork. After adding 5 tablespoons of water, form pastry into a ball. Can be rolled out right away or chilled in wax paper for 30 minutes to reduce stickiness. Bake in pie pan at 450 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, until brown.

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