Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Great Strawberry Pie-Off!

Hi everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back and I have a great strawberry pie recipe to share.
 But first, a funny picture. My five year old passed out, and the doggy passed out with him. I thought their matching positions were pretty hilarious.
And then there was this. A birthday! The first of the summer crew. I made this Very Hungry Caterpillar I saw on Pinterest. It wasn't quite a fail because the new 4 year old loved it! (See how I wrote his name there, Ruthy? I was tempted to write BABY in big letters just for you, but using curved letters with red licorice is a lot harder than it looks.)
 But it was pretty hot in our house that afternoon and the caterpillar's face was sort of losing its shape.... slowly.
 And then came time to blow out the candle. See how helpful older brother is??
Local cherries are ripe! We got these for $2/ pound at roadside stand. YAY!
The Rainier are also ripe, but they need a day in the fridge to bring out the sugars. So, I let the kids eat a few then into the cold storage they went.
 SO! Clari Dees posted a GORGEOUS strawberry pie picture and then the recipe. Ruthy also shared her recipe of the same pie. So I thought I should have a pie-off and see how the two compared!
 Essentially, it's the same pie with just a few changes. So, start with strawberries.
 Cut off their heads!
 Little hands grabbing strawberries. Shoo, shoo!
 Ok, two BAKED pie shells. (See, I'm learning!)
Here is Clari's pie. I'm almost ashamed to post this beautiful photo because there is going to be a COMPARISON. *sobs quietly into fist* But in the interest of science... errr, the blog... I'll be brutally honest in the pursuit of the perfect strawberry pie.
 In Clari's recipe:
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbs corn starch
1 cup water
1 package strawberry Jello
 Get the sugar, water, cornstarch to a boil, and then stir in the strawberry Jello. Set it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
 Layer the cooked pie crusts with strawberries.
 Mmmmmm, I want to eat them all right now.
 Ok, I can hear Ruthy screaming from here. I swear I followed the directions just as she wrote them on Clari's facebook thread.
This is what she said (proving that once it's on the internet, it's FOREVER):

MVM it's really easy.... You crush about 3 cups of berries, add about 1/3 cup water, mix 1/4 cup corn starch with a cup of sugar, then mix with the crushed berries. Heat over medium heat until "glace" is thick and looks like pie filling.... I add a tablespoon of butter, too, to help keep it smooth.... Cool. Then twist the stems off of fresh berries, nestle them into a baked pie crust, and when you have it full, you ladle the cool sauce over it and chill. 

I did everything like she said! I swear! It looks... a little lumpy and weird. 
So, then I take Clari's sauce from the fridge and pour it over the berries. Something is wrong. This looks nothing like the picture. I don't think the Jello set.
 Definitely not set.
 Pooling at the bottom.
 At this point I bring everyone in the taste the pie. My older daughter says, "I don't know what happened but those pies smell like fish. I don't think I'm going to taste it." HA! That was the salmon cooking on the stove. She was relieved to know the pies did not actually smell like cooked salmon.
 Contender Numero Uno: Ruthy's Mash Up.
 Contender Numero Dos: Clari's Mom's Pie
 Gratuitous pie shot.
 First taste goes to Edward and he says, "BOTH". Not helpful.
 Ana said she needed a piece to realllly tell, but finally said she preferred Clari's Mom's recipe.
 Isabel is obviously in cahoots with Ruthy and said she liked the Mash Up.
 Cruz did not appreciate being photographed while tasting pie. But he sacrificed. And said they both tasted the same. VERY UNHELPFUL.
In the end, there were three votes for Clari's Mom's Pie and three votes for Ruthy's Monster Mash! (Cruz liked them both and one child preferred an Oreo, thank you very much.)
 I liked the flavor of Clari's pie better, but something went wrong and it certainly wasn't as pretty as it could be.
Ruthy's Masheroonie Pie was super tasty but I think I should have mashed the berries a bit more before adding them as topping. It definitely thickened up nicely, though.
UPDATE: As of three hours post pie-off, Clari's pie has decided to solidify, and NOW the glacee has has turned to a lovely thick glaze... at the bottom of the pan.

As for a winner, I'm going to need another piece to decide for sure. In fact, I think I'll do that right now... Pie at midnight! Is there anything better?

Until next time, my friends! Oh, and check out my article on Huffington Post Books, if you need some light reading about Jane Austen and the American South. There's no pie in the article, but there are recipes for pie in the second book!


  1. You know what? Right about now they both look amazing!!!!!!

  2. Snort -- Clari's pie and your pie -- the pictures -- howling with laughter. Love this to pieces. Oy. But I bet it tasted just as good. This is why I hide my pie contents underneath another layer of crust!

    Love the Very Hungry Caterpillar...what was he made of? Ice cream? And congrats to birthday boy who has a name other than 'baby'.

    And yay -- a gratuitous pic of a dog. Love the sleeping duo. Can it get any better than that? Well, maybe if you could serve me up some of that pie over the Internet. Yum.

    1. Haha! I know! Another layer of crust would have solved that little problem... And Hungry Caterpillar was made out of colored cupcakes and glued together with colored frosting.
      *passes the pie*

  3. yay a closeup of the bowl!! I didn't know rainier cherries got sweeter in the fridge! making a mental note to do that next time! I was disappointed with several purchase over the years...

    think I hve an ear infection going on. kept having headache - like an icepick through my eyebrown down tomy cheek then yesterday it came back and the back of my head was hurting and hurts to turn my head then I woke up around 2 am remembering a few years ago I had this and it was an ear infecton - that time myear was the ONLY thing on that side ofmy headNOT hurting...sigh...hopefully I can get a good fast antibiotic to clear it up. can't call n sick -t he callout has been worked ragged already and don't want to do that to her - her partner is going on vacation and were still short the one on short term disability for back surgery and theone she works with took vacation - the supervisor didn't catch that last minute quick enough.. I'm such a wuss with ear infections and I seem to get them a lot. if htat's what I havenow t's the 2nd Ive gotten whereI didn't have any nasal congestion going on with it - just out of the blue.

    well since I don't know Clari or her mom I'm voting for Ruthy's! :-)

    1. Ohhhhh, I've had an ear infection every year of my life. Some people are just prone to them. Have you tried a hot compress? Sometimes that would bring some relief to the aching of the sinuses and such. One of my friends swears by this method: alternate hot as you can stand it wet cloths and super cold wet clothes held to the ear (with the head straight so water doesn't get in the ear canal). It makes the ear canal expand and contract, forcing fluid from the ear. It always felt good to me, but I'm not sure it was a cute.

  4. Well, the taste is really all that matters in my book. Just scrape that glacé out if the bottom. :) Or eat the lumps in Ruthy's version. I'm impressed that you made a pie! Much less two. :)

    1. You know, after a night in the fridge, I really couldn't pick between them. I loved the chucky strawberry sauce of Ruthy's (even though I probably did that wrong) and loved the flavor of the strawberry Jello in Clari's (even though I know I did that wrong).

      Super tasty!!

  5. LOL!
    I showed my mom this post and her first comment was, "Oh, dear!" :-)
    Seriously, she's been making strawberry pie for over 45 years, the woman doesn't even have to look at the recipe. Which probably means... she's modified it over the years. :-/
    We've starting to accuse her of the same thing we accused my grandmother of, leaving out secret ingredients when sharing a recipe so it never tastes quite like mom's. Mom did offer a tip, though. She said to cook the sugar, cornstarch, water mixture until it was clear before pulling it off the stove and adding the jello.
    Thanks for sharing your adventures and cute pics of kids and family. :-) If you decide to do the strawberry pie adventure again, I'll keep my fingers crossed it turns out the way it's supposed to!

    1. Oh, that's a great tip! Tell her thank you!! And that's the fun part of making these family favorites: the cooks make the recipes look do simple because they have perfected it. And then we newbies try it and.... But I will persevere! I'll be sure to post pics so you can watch the progress. :)