Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Goodbye Summer, Hello Pie

I know summer isn't technically over yet, as there are still 18 days until the autumnal equinox, but Labor Day definitely seems to socially and culturally recognize the changing of the seasons. This past Labor Day weekend in Colorado was simply BEAUTIFUL. Last week's cooler breezes led to a drop in temperature, registering city highs more than 10 degrees below the constant 85 pluses entered in the record books every day for the past two months, and it almost reached freezing in the mountains (woo hoo!). I had grand hiking plans scheduled for this weekend and last, but thanks to a pesky summer cold, I stayed home and took respite in my city, my neighborhood, and cozy abode just before a very busy fall begins.

Crisp and quiet mornings, no longer humming with swamp cooler and fan vibrations, led to early morning phone conversations with Mama while still under my covers. Plentiful sunshine inspired yard work and a sense of ownership, even if I'm just a longer term renter. Time to actually relax and not rush, rush, rush anywhere allowed for walks to coffee, sidewalk chats with strangers, leisurely shopping, homemade cookies, friends in the park, and more than a few movies, that all resulted in a return to whole health and a deep appreciation for each and every thing that makes Colorado my home. It's been 9 years now. Wow.

One of the most welcome additions to The Spectacular Summer of 2011 was "Family Dinner." A friend of mine invited me to join her group of weekly, home cooked, family style meals. Before I got sick, I got to host. We had two extra guests to our usual group of five and feasted on a fresh green salad, chicken kabobs, mushroom and asparagus risotto, and wayyyyyy too much wine :) What did we have for dessert you ask? We had pie. Delicious, fresh and easy, strawberry pie.

Jenni's Shortbread Crust & Strawberry Pie
Makes 1, 9 inch pie

3 TBS sugar
1 tsp salt
4 TBS unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk (freeze your white in a glass jar and save it for later!)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
large pie plate
small bowl
2 TBS cornstarch
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 (3 oz) package strawberry jello
1 quart fresh organic strawberries (why organic? this is why)
small sauce pan
silicone spatula

1. Make you crust first!
2. Turn on oven to 375
3. Add sugar and salt to your small bowl and mix briefly with a fork
4. Add butter and mix with fork until it's evenly incorporated
5. Add egg and vanilla and mix with fork again until you have a shortbread crumble that looks like this:
6. Press this crumble into your pie plate, starting in the middle and working your way up the sides until it looks like this:

7. Cook in oven for 10 minutes
8. Rotate dish and cook for 10 more minutes OR until the crust just starts to brown

9. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack
10. Now make the filling!
11. Add cornstarch and water to a sauce pan on a stove
12. Turn burner on to medium heat
13. Mix with a fork until no more clumps of starch remain and the water is uniformly cloudy
14. Add sugar and stir until boiling
15. Remove from heat and add jello

16. Mix until no more clumps remain and your pan is full of red, transparent goo
17. Set aside and let cool to room temperature
18. Rinse your strawberries, remove their tops, and cut in half

19. Place strawberries in the crust and arrange, evenly spaced and (if you like) cut side down (the pretty way)
20. Pour the red goo mixture over the strawberries slowly, letting it settle throughout the dish and not come over the edge of your crust
21. Chill for at least 4 hours
22. Serve with whipped cream!

Make a strawberry pie now before the last fresh harvests of the summer. Berry season ends soon. Then Autumn, you may come. I am rested and ready for you!

Next up is lots of weekend work, a big birthday bash, and most importantly, S N O W.

Thank you summer for so much fun. Thank you Labor Day for some much needed rest. Thank you Colorado for being my beloved home. Thank you Earth for your delicious bounty!

Okay. I'm done now. Peace out :)