Thursday, August 7, 2014

Summer Produce and Pie!

One of the things I love about summer is the fresh vegetables and fruit that grows in Ontario.  Peaches, strawberries, blueberries, muskmelon, corn, potatoes, yellow beans, I could go on and on.  There is nothing better than a truly fresh fruit or vegetable; when I eat canned or frozen stuff I wonder what the heck am I doing?  Did you know there are actually people out there that don't like vegetables?! I feel sorry for them, they don't know what they are missing.

I am also a sucker for a farmer's market.  Fortunately there are numerous options in Toronto.  We used to go all the way downtown to the St. Lawrence Market, but we would get annoyed with finding a place to park and the amount of people crammed into one space.  Don't get me wrong, it is a wonderful place and worth a trip, especially for tourists, but when all I want are a few items, I don't need to go all the way there.  Then we started going to the Sunday morning market in Liberty Village, but last year, a market started up in our own neighbourhood on Saturday mornings.  It is so nice to be able to walk or bike there and pick up what we want.  It is a humble market but it is growing. 

One of my husband's favourite things is pie.  In his opinion there can never be too much pie, and you certainly can't refuse a piece if one is offered to you because "you can't get behind on your pie"!  I am actually pretty good at making pie, including making crust from scratch, but I must admit I do not make it often enough.  I think my favourite pie is cherry, but I can't detract from strawberry, blueberry, peach, and apple.  Pecan and lemon meringue are okay too, but not my first choice.  Dave likes lemon meringue the best, but I have not had the courage to make one from scratch yet. Fortunately Shirriff makes a good boxed mix.  My nana could make lemon meringue from scratch and would make it for Dave when we visited (sometimes instead of cherry, much to my dismay!).

My nana also made the best strawberry pie, and maybe I shouldn't be sharing this recipe, but it is so simple and tasty, it should be shared and made and enjoyed - and maybe you could think of my nana when you eat it.

Nana Do's Strawberry Pie Recipe

One cooked and cooled pie crust (scratch recipe below)
One pint of fresh strawberries (while they are in season, those winter strawberries from California do not cut it!)
1 cup white sugar
1/2 to 1 cup water (will depend on juiciness of berries)
2-3 tbsp cornstarch
Sprinkle of cinnamon

Crush 1 cup of strawberries in a sauce pan, add sugar, some water, and cornstarch.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly while it bubbles away. Cook until it is thick and clear.  It can take awhile.

Place the other raw berries in the pie crust to completely cover the bottom, leave them whole so they stand up, or halve to fit. 

Pour the cooked mixture over the raw berries making sure all of them are covered.
Refrigerate for 2-3 hours until set.
Serve with real whipped cream.  Mmm

This time I didn't make enough of the cooked berries and the pie is a little empty, but it will still taste good, and to quote my nana, cover it with whipped cream and no one will know!

Pie Crust (Makes one complete pie crust, you only need half of this recipe for a strawberry pie)

2 cups + 2 tbsp + 2tsp pastry flour (I know, weird amount, but trust me)
1/3 lb lard
1 tsp salt
1/3 tsp baking powder
ice cold water

Cut lard into dry ingredients until crumbly. Add cold water until pastry sticks together, don't over mix or it will be tough after it's cooked.  Gather into a ball with hands.  Divide into two balls, roll one out at a time.  Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes.

Funny thing about the pie crust, I was sitting with some ladies at a church luncheon a few months back and we got to talking about pie crust (no, I'm not 80 years old).  We all agreed that lard was the only way to make a pie crust, sorry to you vegetarians out there. 

Enjoy those summer fruits and vegetables while they are still here!

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