In the early 1970's around about this time of year, my parents and I would jump into our station wagon and head over to a "u-pick" strawberry farm for the morning
In the early 1970's around about this time of year, my parents and I would jump into our station wagon and head over to a "u-pick" strawberry farm for the morning. I bet your family had a station wagon, too. I used to immediately bypass sitting in the back seat and jump over it into the "way back" to play with my Barbies while i rode along, pretending that Barbie and her family were going to a strawberry farm, too.
While at the farm, I would follow mom and dad up and down the rows of berry plants, "helping" them pick berries to take home with us, so mom could make strawberry shortcakes and strawberry jam with them. Oh, and homemade strawberry ice cream...let's not forget that!
Later in life, mom and dad told me that I loved the strawberries at the farm so much that I would eat more of them than I'd actually place in the buckets while we were picking in the fields. I guess they should have weighed my little toddler self upon entering and again upon leaving to see how much I owed the farmer!
Fast forward a few years to the late 1970's. Our family had moved to Gulf County by then, and occasionally on a Sunday after church, we would drive over to Panama City to eat lunch at Morrison's Cafeteria. My favorite thing on their menu was the strawberry pie. Remember that pie? It was full of whole berries and topped with swirls of whipped cream. (Shoney's had one like it, too! So delicious.) Those pies were a treat; I don't recall mom making them at home; she made cakes more often than she made pies. So when I'd get to have a slice of the sweet-tart delicious dessert with the beautiful white swirls on top, it was something special.
A few years ago I found this wonderfully simple recipe for the fresh strawberry pie that lingers in my memories. I hope it'll bring back fond memories for you, too, and that you'll enjoy making one to share with your own loved ones soon. It's easy to do so this time of year, when fragrant strawberries begin filling the crates at all the grocery stores. And of course, if you find a farmer selling them, that's even better.
Fresh Strawberry Pie
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
3 tablespoons strawberry gelatin mix
1 pint fresh strawberries
3 heaping tablespoons cornstarch
1 pie crust, baked and cooled
1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar, cornstarch, and dry gelatin mix by stirring or whisking well. Add water, stirring continuously and cooking until the mixture becomes thick and clear. Set aside and let cool.
2. Wash and hull strawberries, then cut in half and arrange over pre-baked pie crust.
3. When filling is cool, pour evenly over strawberries, smoothing with a spatula.
4. Chill pie until ready to serve. Serve with whipped cream
Now, I made my own whipped cream, because it's so easy to do and is far superior to a tub of whipped oils that "sort of tastes like whipped cream." (No names mentioned.)
To make your own delicious whipped cream, buy a pint of heavy whipping cream, and chill a bowl and the whisk attachment of your mixer in the freezer for a few minutes. Then, add a cup of the cream to the chilled bowl, and begin whipping it at high speed.
Gently sprinkle in a bit of sugar (just a tablespoon will do), a bit at a time while you're whipping the cream, to give it time to dissolve completely.
You can also add 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract if you'd like, a little at a time. When mixture becomes whipped and peaks form, you’re ready to serve it! If you go any further, you'll have sweet vanilla-flavored butter! I like butter, but not on a strawberry pie.
Put a dollop of that fresh whipped cream on top of a slice of this wonderful pie and you'll see what I mean; it's as good as taking a bite of a fresh, juicy strawberry in the middle of a warm strawberry patch in 1970.
Stephanie Hill-Frazier is a writer, food blogger and regional television chef, whose on-air nickname is
"Mama Steph". She grew up in Gulf County, on St. Joe Beach, a place she will forever call home.
She is married and has three young adult sons who will insist upon eating a strawberry pie after reading this. You can ind more of her recipes at whatsouthernfolkseat.com.