fresh strawberry pie

     I love strawberry pie. I love, love, love strawberry pie! (Yes, we've covered the fact that I love most everything edible.)
     Right now, it's spring and Florida strawberries are in season. The farm stands and food stores are filled with loads of plump, juicy berries.
     My mom's friend, Peggy gave her this recipe a zillion years ago. I have it jotted down in my weathered, old blank cookbook, written in strawberry-pink pen. If you've been paying attention and wonder if she is the same Peggy, famous for the oatmeal cookie recipe, yes. She is.
     Many a family favorite has originated from her and I recently uncovered a great secret. I found an old letter my mom wrote me while my dad was still living, but terminally ill with pancreatic cancer.
     My mom lamented over her constant search for something he would eat. She mentioned a new meatloaf recipe (gasp!) given to her by Peggy that Daddy loved. All these years, I have given the credit to Mommy, never knowing how she came up with our family's most beloved sweet-loaf.
     Don't you just love the fact that we are never truly alone in a kitchen? Laurie Colwin pointed out that when we cook, our mothers, grandmothers and friends are with us through the recipes they've shared.
     This pie is similar to Shoney's famous one. Try as I may, I've never found anything else to top it.
     The entire production takes mere minutes to throw together and in the end you will be a superhero in the eyes of whomever you serve it to. Really, you will...
1 baked pie crust
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 T. strawberry jello
1 cup water
up to 2 pounds of strawberries, sliced (depending on size of pie plate. 8" will hold less, 9 or 10" will hold more.
whipped cream, for serving
In a deep saucepan, whisk together the dry stuff: cornstarch, sugar and jello. By doing this first, you will eliminate any fear of lumpy cornstarch. Slowly whisk in the water, blending until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Mixture will be cloudy and bright, pink-ish red.
Cook mixture until thick and clear. Remove from stove and cool until you can stick your finger in and leave it without getting burned. (I know it sounds kooky and unprofessional, but it works. Plus, I never claimed to be a professional, anyway.)
Now don't be in a hurry and skip this important step. This is a fresh strawberry pie, not a baked one. Hot glaze mixture will wilt and soften your fresh berries, causing them to look cooked. That is bad...You want them to be ripe, red and firm.
Place sliced strawberries in baked pie shell. A pound is enough for one 8" shell. I've found that when using my BIG pie plate, I need almost another pound. As you can see below, I needed more. On this particular day, I was baking two pies and didn't get the piled high effect I wanted... But the pies tasted great;)
Slowly pour cooled jello mixture over, making sure that liquid gets in and under and around all of the berries... you want the glaze-y stuff everywhere! Chill pie for awhile before serving, with whipped cream on the side...
If you have the willpower to wait.

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