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Sailboat Strawberry Pie

Yesterday I tried to post this recipe but instead I got carried away talking all about our wonderful anniversary/family visit. And as much as I loved pouring over family photos that week, I equally loved spending one-on-one time visiting with my mother-in-law. I realize that the cliche is a mother-in-law who meddles and sticks her nose in and disapproves of everything, but my mother-in-law is anything but that. She’s absolutely lovely. She reminds me a lot of my Aunt Sue – my mother’s beloved Aunty who passed away when I was 16. I spent my childhood at Aunt Sue’s heels while she baked cakes and served fairy tea in miniature china teacups. I spent hours with my head resting on her ample bosom, while she told stories about her childhood home, our nation’s capital, the illustrious Washington D.C.  She’s been gone for years, but I see her in my mother-in-law. The way Mom pads around the kitchen in red knit ballet slippers, telling stories about her childhood in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where her mother lived her entire life in a two-bedroom house with no kitchen sink. We spent our mornings immersed in photo albums, our afternoons cooking, and every evening I curled up at her feet like a cat and asked for more stories. More!

When Michael’s parents were first married, they owned a beautiful sailboat that they’d take out for weeks at a time. Michael cut his teeth sailing and I have seen the photos to prove it. (omgsoadorable.)  The following is a recipe for the strawberry pie Michael’s mother used to make on the boat whenever they went out to sea. It’s unbelievably easy and it’s probably one of the best strawberry pies I’ve ever eaten.

Sailboat Strawberry Pie

Oven: This will depend on the type of crust you use
Prep: 30 min.
Bake: Nada
What You’ll Need:
frozen/refrigerated pie crust
fresh strawberries
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
whipping cream
sugar
vanilla extract

We started with a Marie Callender’s frozen pie crust. I was skeptical because I’ve always insisted on baking my own pie crusts from scratch, but this pie crust was so delicious – flaky, tender, flavorful – I don’t know if I’ll ever go to the trouble of making a crust from scratch again. We followed the instructions on the box, which were something along the lines of “take the crust out of the box, prick it all over with a fork, bake it for 15 minutes, voila!”

While the crust was in the oven, we washed the strawberries, trimmed their tops off, and set them out to dry. It’s important that the strawberries are completely dry before you put them in the pie.

When the crust had baked and cooled, you sift 1 cup of powdered sugar evenly into the pie crust.

When the strawberries are completely dry, you arrange them in the powdered sugar dusted pie crust.

strawberries

We were only about half-done filling the crust with strawberries at this point…

Next, sift 1 more cup of powdered sugar over the strawberries, covering evenly and completely.

If you want to make your own whipped cream, now is the time. Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to your whipping cream and whip on high while slowly adding sugar to taste. We forgot to buy whipping cream, but Mom had Cool Whip on hand and that worked perfectly.

Cover your pie with whipped cream (or Cool Whip) like so:

whipping cream

You want to completely cover the pie with whipped cream, much the way you would cover a meringue-topped pie with meringue – sealed all the way to the edges. Put the pie in the fridge for two or three hours to chill before serving. Voila! You’re done! Easy peasy and completely delicious.

fini

Now I wish I’d taken a photo of the pie once it was cut and plated because in addition to being delicious, it was also gorgeous. But you’re just going to have to take my word for it. Now onward! Make pies!

Brown Bananas

An Experiment in Baking
By Yours Truly

brown bananas

Three weeks ago, before I was knocked flat by the King of the Deadly Flu, I baked my first pie in my brand-new electric oven. I had a pile of brown bananas, which are particularly good for baking because they are so much sweeter than yellow bananas, so I decided to bake a banana cream pie. I’ll have you know that I bake the World’s Best Banana Cream Pie, I really do. So you can imagine my surprise when this pie turned out to be the World’s Worst Banana Cream Pie. It was … Awful. Really really awful. I’m not exactly sure what happened. I know I over-cooked the filling (stupid electric stove). And I forgot to poke holes in the crust before I baked it. But that doesn’t explain the clear gel that formed on the outside of the crust, or the fact that the bananas looked like chocolate and not bananas and no one, not even me, wants to eat bananas that are as brown as chocolate.

I briefly considered bringing the pie into the office for my co-workers to eat, but I would have had to lie about where it came from because I certainly wasn’t going to claim it as my own. I renamed it “Gummy Banana Cream Pie” and then I threw the whole thing in the garbage.

When I came upon yet another pile of brown bananas this weekend, (Mike buys them faster than we can eat them), I thought I’d try something a little different.

Brown Banana Muffins
Prep: 10 Minutes
Bake: 18 Minutes
Oven: 400*F
Makes: 12 Muffins
What You’ll Need:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While oven is heating, peel your brown bananas, then smush them together with a fork until you have a cup of smushed brown bananas. Try not to throw up when you realize that they resemble a cup of banana-scented mucous.

banana mush

Grease twelve 2 1/2-inch muffin cups with butter. Do not use paper bake cups. Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture, set aside.

In another bowl, combine egg, milk, and oil. Curse yourself out loud when you realize you don’t have any cooking oil. Also? What exactly is cooking oil? Do they mean canola oil? Turn off the oven, throw on a sweater, grab your purse, and walk six blocks to the closest market, which happens to be a health food store, then spend seven dollars on the only kind of canola oil they sell, which happens to be organic. Roll eyes obviously when tattooed cashier girl gushes over the tattoos of the guy in front of you in line. Try not to laugh when she tries, and fails, to procure his phone number.

Return home, and re-preheat oven.

Add egg/milk/organic oil mixture into flour mixture all at once. Add banana mush and stir everything together until the flour mixture is moist. Batter should be lumpy.

Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. If desired, sprinkle cinnamon over the tops.

raw muffins

Or you can get crazy and sprinkle cinnamon over HALF of your raw muffins, leaving the rest of your muff naked.

Wait. That came out wrong.

Bake muffins for 18 – 20 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick stuck in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let muffins cool in the muffin cups on top of a wire rack for five minutes. Serve warm.

banana muffins

Or in my case, eat a half a dozen hot out of the oven before it occurs to you that perhaps you ought to save a few for your husband, who is hard at work. Then eat two or three more because they are that delicious.

What? I saved him four. Four muffins! How many muffs does a man need?