Does Life Get Better Than Fresh Strawberry Pie?

It’s strawberry season in Canada, although here in our corner of the Canadian Shield there are no strawberry farms within 200 kilometres, and no organic ones within 500 kilometres. But, thanks to Mark’s lovely parents, who visited us from Manitoba, we had 16 pounds of fresh organic strawberries to enjoy this weekend. Many of the berries ended up in the freezer to be enjoyed in smoothies in the winter, but I did make 2 pies.

While all fresh local strawberries are delicious, I make a special effort to buy organic berries. Although they can be a little more expensive, they are worth it because, according to the Environmental Working Group’s Shoppers Guide to Pesticides, non-organic strawberries are #3 on the “Dirty Dozen” list, due to of the high amount of pesticide residue they may contain.

5 cups of fresh organic strawberries, ready to become pie!

Here are the recipes, and the photos, from my kitchen this week. I like this pie recipe because fresh berries are mixed in with cooked ones, giving it a truly fresh flavour:

Fresh Strawberry Pie (adapted from The Fanny Farmer Cookbook):

5 cups strawberries

3 – 4 T cornstarch

1/2 – 1 cup honey (depending on how sweet your berries are, and how sweet you like your pie)

2 T lemon juice

Baked pie crust*

Divide the strawberries into 2 bowls. Slice in half the berries in one bowl. Crush the berries in the 2nd bowl (which should be microwaveable) with a fork or potato masher.

Stir in the cornstarch, honey, and lemon juice into the crushed berries, mixing well. Place the bowl in the microwave on high for 2 minutes, take out and stir well, and repeat until the mixture looks clear or translucent and is thickened. Remove from the heat and cool. When cooled, stir in sliced strawberries and put the mixture into the baked crust and place in the fridge until firm. Serve with whipped cream.

crushing berries with a potato masher
mixing sliced and crushed strawberries together

In our house, opinion is divided on whether a graham wafer crust is the best one to use for this recipe, which is why I usually bake two, one with a graham wafer crust and then a second one with my favourite, Tannis’s Pie Crust. That way everybody is happy!

*Tannis’s Oatmeal Pie Crust:

Tannis's Oatmeal Pie Crust

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup almonds or pecans, chopped finely

2 T brown sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

Mix dry ingredients together, then add butter. Press into the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate and bake at 400 degrees F for 12 – 15 minutes.

Pies are ready for eating!

More links:

EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides

Strawberry Fields Forever

To find a U-Pick farm near you, check out this website, www.pickyourown.org (and remember,choose organic whenever you can)

Eating Local Is Delicious With Rhubarb Kuchen

Here in northern Ontario where I live, rhubarb is the first harvest from the garden that we  look forward to.  In anticipation of a meal of homemade pasta and grilled eggplant that’s planned for tonight (thanks to Michael who is willing to share his expertise in Italian cooking gained in the kitchens of his mother and grandmother) I picked some rhubarb from the garden for a very Canadian dessert.  Here’s the result, adapted from a Peach Kuchen recipe from the More With Less cookbook (fyi – I doubled it):

Red Lake Rhubarb Kuchen

Combine in bowl:

1 1/3 cup sifted flour (I used a combination of unbleached white and whole wheat flour)

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 T sugar

Then, cut in 1/3 butter (I used half butter and half light olive oil) and then pat mixture over bottom and sides of a 9″ pie pan or skillet.

Crust

Arrange in pastry:

2 cups fresh diced rhubarb

Then sprinkle rhubarb with:

1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon (I used honey)

Bake 15 minutes.

Combine:

1 egg, beaten

1 cup sour cream, sour milk, yogurt, or combination

Pour over rhubarb and bake 30 minutes longer.

Rhubarb Kuchen

Okay, now it’s confession time – as I was typing up this recipe, I realized that I had baked the crust without the rhubarb (I have no excuse, I guess I wasn’t as wide awake as I thought)!  Since I realized this, I’ve had a small taste of it, and the rhubarb is slightly under baked but still tasty.  I also decreased the amount of honey by a bit, so it is a little tart.  It will still be dessert for tonight, but with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side to balance the tartness.  And next time, the rhubarb definitely will be baked for the right length of time.