Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pretending It's Summer

It snowed all night. Hardly any snow has fallen all winter, but the sidewalks and car were covered before work this morning. Our summer travel plans were thrown in a tailspin when our teaching schedules were posted since James and I are scheduled to teach opposite terms. Ji woke up crying at 1:30 this morning, completely inconsolable. He proceeded to vomit all over himself and our bed.

But yesterday we pretended it was summer.

Strawberries were on sale at the grocery store, so I bought two pounds this weekend. Yesterday morning I realized we hadn't touched them for two days, and winter strawberries don't last that long. I determined to make a strawberry pie.

Now, I'm not much of a baker. I once boiled a cake inside the oven. I'm not exaggerating. The boiled-over cake fell on the heating coils and caught on fire. We threw baking soda on the fire but missed most of the flame the first few throws. Our upstairs neighbors came down to ask if we were all right because they smelled burning. I had to admit that I lit the oven on fire, but everything was under control. But my love for pumpkin pie has driven me to experiment with pastries. I have made pumpkin pie every autumn for the last six years, but it wasn't until last summer that I decided to make strawberry rhubarb pie, peach pie, plum pie, and apple pie.

And nothing says summer like strawberries.

I don't have the simplest pie recipes, but my grandma's pie crust is delicious. My mom recently abandoned this family recipe for one that she said is "so easy to work with." Grandma's pie crust can get really sticky, so make sure to add plenty of flour before gently kneading. Also, this recipe works fine with shortening instead of butter, but margarine was a little bit of a mess.

My Grandma's Pie Crust
2+ cups flour
1 cup butter
a pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1Tablespoon vinegar
cold water
1 egg

Combine 2 cups of flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.

Cut butter into the mixture until crumbly. Crack the egg into a liquid measuring cup. Add the vinegar. Fill the cup with cold water until it reaches 1/2 cup full. Mix together.

Add to flour and butter mixture. Add small amounts of flour to work with crust. Be gentle with the crust. The trick with pie crust is to handle it the least amount possible.

This is a sticky crust. To roll out, divide into two balls. Place one ball at a time in wax paper and roll flat with a rolling pin. Press into pie pan. Cut small slits into crust to keep from bubbling.

Strawberry Pie
2 pounds of sliced strawberries (about 8 cups)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 lemon rind grated
1 Tablespoon of butter
2 pie crusts

In a large bowl combine sugar, flour, and lemon rind; mix with the strawberries. The mixture should be gooey. Place inside pie crust.

Cut small tabs of butter and place over the mixture. Top with other crust. Cut slits or shapes in the crust.

Bake at 425 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. (If possible, cover the edges of the crust.)

Variations: I've made this same pie with peaches instead of strawberries. I originally made this as a strawberry rhubarb pie for my husband's uncle. The lemon rind makes the pie taste really fresh. Yum.

So to complement my unseasonal strawberry pie, I made a summer-inspired dinner. I used the leftover lemon (plus two others) to make frozen lemonade slushies. We feasted on grilled vegetable sandwiches, spinach and cheese baked beans, superfood salad, and sweet potato fries. 

My family was very happy to have a taste of summer despite the cold.


  1. Judy Bailey, a friend and math tutor extraordinaire, sent me this pie crust recipe. She said it's really easy:

    1 stick butter

    1 cup plain flour ( I actually like about ¼ cup more flour – the dough needs to be crumbly, but not all that wet)

    1 tablespoon sugar.

    Melt the butter in the pie pan. Put in the flour and sugar. Cut it all together, then pat the crust out around the sides and bottom of the pie pan. If you are making a cooked pie, you can cook crust and pie all together. If it isn’t a cooked pie, then cook the crust at 350 until beginning to brown.

  2. I'm sad that I missed this dinner. But the pie the next day was still delicious!