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)

“With Renewable Energy You Can Do Impossible Things”

I think it’s time for good news for a change, don’t you?  First, let’s recognize that it’s day 81 of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf, and that results of that catastrophe, on the people and the environment, are just beginning to be felt. But today I’m going to talk about bright spots on the green horizon – because there are some!  For example:

  • Yesterday in Payerne, Switzerland a solar-powered plane landed after a 26 hour record-breaking flight. The pilot, Bertrand Piccard, said:

There is a before and after in terms of what people have to believe and understand about renewable energies,

He went on to say that the flight was proof new technologies can help break society’s dependence on fossil fuels.

When you took off it was another era,” said Piccard, who achieved the first nonstop circumnavigation of the globe in a balloon, the Breitling Orbiter III, in 1999. “You land in a new era where people understand that with renewable energy you can do impossible things.”

Click here for the full story.

And while we are discussing solar, some good news on my family’s steps towards generating some “green” energy. This week, our 20-year old roof shingles were replaced to prepare for the 6 – 7 Kilowatt solar panel system that will be going up sometime in the next few weeks. We have applied, and been accepted into, the Ontario microFIT program. I will share more info, and pictures, as the project progresses.

  • And in other good news, one year after a ban on lawn pesticides in Ontario, surface water is much cleaner. It only makes sense, but it’s nice to have confirmation that legislation like this can make a dramatic difference in just twelve months. From Treehugger.com:

68 stream water samples were taken over 2008 and 2009, representing the water quality before and after the ban took effect. Sampling points were selected in areas mainly influenced by residential run-off — away from golf courses, sewage treatment plant effluents, and agricultural applications. The samples were analyzed for 105 pesticides and pesticide degradation products.

The results are dramatic: three pesticides estimated to account for half of lawn care product applications dropped by 86% (2,4-D), 82% (dicamba), and 78% (MCPP: 2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid). On the other hand, concentrations of glyphosphate (Roundup) and carbaryl did not drop significantly. The results for glyphosphate (Roundup) are attributed to continued use of this pesticide in certain exempted applications. The carbaryl results are not explained; perhaps this is due to the persistence of carbaryl in sediment.

Go to TreeHugger.com for the full story.

  • A third independent inquiry into the so-called “Climategate” scandal that was headline news all over the climate skeptics blogs six months ago has, once again, cleared the scientists of any wrong-doing. Muir Russell, the author of the third report, said clearly “Their rigor and honesty as scientists are not in doubt.”Yet the blogosphere remains strangely quiet on the matter, except those who are claiming (yet another) conspiracy.  To read more, check out “Third Inquiry Clears ‘Climategate’ Scientists of Serious Wrongdoing” at Newsweek.com. Here’s a bit of what it says:

Climategate, as its “gate” suffix suggests, has attained mythical status. For skeptics, the 1,000 or so e-mails and documents hacked last year from the Climactic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia (UEA), in England, establish that global warming is a scientific conspiracy. There is no such proof. Here’s what happened.

And then a brief synopsis of events leading up to the latest inquiry is given, including Sarah Palin’s damning (and now, clearly completely inaccurate) opinion piece in The Washington Post that asserted “leading climate ‘experts’ deliberately destroyed records, manipulated data to ‘hide the decline’ in global temperatures, and tried to silence their critics by preventing them from publishing in peer-reviewed journals.” The Newsweek article concludes by pointing out the muted response by the media and blogosphere to the news that there was no conspiracy on the part of climate scientists, compared to the blaring headlines touting a conspiracy when the story initially broke:

But, as NEWSWEEK’s Sharon Begley pointed out, the retractions of the original “smoking gun” stories have been muted. Climategate, now a firmly established “gate,” will probably continue to be cited as evidence of a global-warming conspiracy. Indeed, the reaction to the report today has been somewhat odd. Bloomberg News’s headline was ‘Climategate’ Scientists Wrongly Withheld Data, Probe Finds‘*. It is inflammatory and misleading—the report did not say that information was withheld. It said that the scientists could have been better at responding to Freedom of Information Act requests, and generally, as Begley also noted, more open to scrutiny.

Go to Newsweek.com for the full story

*Interestingly, if you click on this link to Bloomberg.com, the story headline is now changed to “Climategate Scientists Cleared Of Manipulating Data”

Related links:

Tell Obama to Put Solar on the White House

And, for those of us not in the United States, go this link and ask YOUR leader to put solar on his/her home this year:

Put Solar On It