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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!

Strawberry Pie

The week of our anniversary, we went to visit Michael’s mother in her home – not his childhood home, his parents didn’t buy this house until the summer before his senior year in high school, but he did live in this house, and it was a really big deal for me to visit his mom in her home, where he once lived, because we’ve been together for nearly eight years and I’d never even seen a baby picture of him.

You can tell what a big deal it was because that entire paragraph turned into one giant run-on sentence.

You see, Mike’s mother lives out of state and for one reason or another, we’ve never been able to visit her. She’s visited us several times, but we’d never been able to visit her. In fact, Mike hadn’t been home at all in eleven years. It was time.

We stayed for three days and we didn’t leave the house except once to swing by the supermarket. Instead of running around doing stuff, we spent all three days pouring over old family photo albums. Actually, Mike studied for micro-biology while his mother and I poured over old family photo albums. I was absolutely in heaven. I got to look through Michael’s baby book – his baby book! I saw his first lock of hair from his first haircut and the hospital bracelet he came home in and the very first penny he ever found and picked up for good luck. You guys. The happiness almost killed me.

And the photo albums! There were pictures of all of his Halloween costumes – he was Chewbaca two years in a row and if you saw this costume you would die itissoadorable. There were pictures of his first Christmas and every Christmas after. Snapshots from his birthday parties and his first steps and all these beautiful, happy, perfect memories caught in tiny squares of faded paper like so many pressed rose petals.

It’s funny because I was secretly a little sad that our anniversary trip was a trip to visit family. Not that I wasn’t delighted to be visiting family because I was. I planned this trip and looked forward to it for months. Just that, you know, it was our five-year wedding anniversary, it would have been nice to go somewhere romantic and alone. But as it turned out, this quality time with family was exactly what we needed.

I want to know Michael. I want to understand everything about him. I want to know him better than anyone in the world. I wish I could go back in time and be a fly on the wall at his sixth birthday party. Or I wish I could have been his favorite toy – his little velveteen rabbit. It drove me crazy that we’d been together for so long, but I’d never even seen one of his baby pictures. There was this chunk of his past that was a complete mystery to me. I’d ask him questions about his childhood and he’d look at me like I was crazy and say, “How am I supposed to remember that?” But now I know he had tin-soldier wallpaper and a birthday cake shaped like the Easter bunny. I’ve seen his lego towers and his cat Snowball. I’ve read his birth announcement and flipped through his parents’ wedding album. Pieces of him, however small they may be.

The visit was also an extraordinary opportunity for me and my mother-in-law to bond over the greatest thing we have in common – the tall, handsome, funny, smart, strong, kind of nerdy man we both love. I got to gush over pictures of her towheaded, blue-eyed baby boy while she took a leisurely stroll down memory lane. She told the most wonderful stories about my husband’s childhood and of her own life, before he was born. I’m still kicking myself because we didn’t bring our digital recorder. It would have been incredible to record these family stories. (Remind me to tell you about three-year-old Mike and the inflatable bunny.) One night his Aunt and Uncle joined us for dinner – I had never met them before and they were the absolute loveliest people – and it was such fun to hear Mike’s mother and her big brother reminiscing about their childhood. You guys, it was amazing. It was the best time ever.

I don’t know how to put into words why this experience – this chance to peek into a part of my husband’s past – was so important to me. Before the trip, I loved Michael more than I ever knew I was capable of loving someone. But after the trip? Afterwards I couldn’t believe how much more I loved him. It was as if my heart grew three sizes bigger and all the extra, new space was filled up with Michael.

This post was supposed to be a post with a recipe for my mother-in-law’s awesome strawberry pie, but I got a little carried away talking about our wonderful anniversary/family trip, and now you’ve probably thrown-up in your mouth at least three times (because really? No one wants to hear a married lady gush about her husband) so I’ll post the recipe tomorrow. And now you have something to look forward to! You’re welcome.

Geraldine

geraldine

This tiny section of my family room makes me feel indescribably happy. The portrait is of my mother-in-law, Geraldine, when she was sixteen. She’s a real beauty and I think her portrait is lovely over the radio table. One day, if I ever acquire a camera that takes fantastic photos in low lighting, I’ll take a real picture of Geraldine so you can admire her too.