This little space came up in conversation towards the end of this school year. Normally I run a pretty covert operation, but some of the other moms were onto me: my own fault, because the “what do you do” question does tend to come up frequently as you spend time with people. Don’t get me wrong: I never try to hide what I do…I’m just not up in people’s faces like “Hi! Do you know me? I’m the author and content creator of A Periodic Table, and I work for this great magazine, blergety-blerg, and my work has been featured in…” and on it goes. I suck at that.
There’s an anonymity to blogging which gets shattered the instant someone in “real life” knows about it. Instead of say, one of you talking to me from Baltimore, Halifax, Scottsdale or points beyond over email, suddenly it’s like, one of your school-mom friends hanging out with you at a kid’s birthday party. They are right there. There’s no real reason it’s weird: it’s just the context is very different at first, and even after almost 6 years, it’s still something I have to get used to.
I noticed when I talked about the blog, it was like talking about an old friend I had years ago that I don’t keep in touch with as much as I should. One I talk to every so often, but not as regularly as before, and certainly not as much as I mean to. One who’s such a good friend that they get sidelined in favor of other projects, work assignments, and life-living. I used to let it bother me, but finally I realized something: this blog can be here forever if I want it to be. You all will hopefully still be here and get mini-excited when I write words or share recipes, but it’s not going anywhere. There’s no expiration date on this. This has become – for better or for worse – a culinary diary of my last 6 years, and even if I don’t post as much as I want, that’s okay: all the things I’ve done don’t vanish into the ether, either. I’m proud of these past 6 years of blogging, and I have a whole summer here that seems full of possibility. And by possibility, I mean food.
We’re going to have a B-Side summer over here! Because when you live a life developing recipes, you end up with a nice little collection of things which for myriad reasons, never see the light of day. Sometimes a feature heads a different direction and a recipe you love no longer fits, or sometimes you have to drop a few in favor of space. Sometimes a project you work on gets delayed unexpectedly, and your seasonal recipes are no longer in season, or sometimes it’s just that you make something you’ve wanted to try in the middle of all of it, and you just don’t get around to posting it. Recipe development B-Sides aren’t rejects, just like their musical counterparts aren’t: for whatever reason, it’s just something that gets shelved or doesn’t quite fit into a theme at the time, and it’s time to let them see the light of day.
First stop: strawberry pie. I’ve been living and breathing this pie every summer since I used it to make this american flag pie: I can’t help it, it’s that delicious. No surprise, since it’s Joy the Baker’s recipe, which I follow loosely to throw this together. That’s the best thing about fruit pies: once you have a solid recipe, you can play around with quantities and most of the time, everything will turn out just fine. Except for the crust, it’s about the closest thing you can get to non-baking, really: precise isn’t necessarily the main thing here. And if you’re really living by the seat of your lazypants, you can do what I do and just grab your favorite pie crust at the grocery store. If not, pick your favorite crust recipe and go for it: maybe use Joy’s recipe, because it’s fantastic. I’m not going to give you big directions on how to work the top of this pie, because I think that should be up to you. Never have I fallen in love with a pie so hard.
Adapted from Joy the Baker’s Strawberry Lattice Pie recipe, which I mean…guys. It’s solid and my “adapting” is really just because I like to play it fast and loose when it comes to fruit pies.
Summer Strawberry Pie
Serves | 8 to 10 | if you’re not me, who could hack away at this pie by myself until it was all gone
- 6 to 6 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- large pinch or two of kosher salt
- juice of 1 lemon, strained
- 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tsp water
- Demerara sugar for topping the unbaked pie
- Your favorite store-bought double pie crust (no judgement zone) or your fave double-crust recipe, all ready to get rolled out
| Preparation | Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a lipped baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, toss strawberries together with granulated sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, salt and lemon juice, tossing gently until everything is well-mixed. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes until things start to get juicy.
Roll out your pie crust to about 1/8th-inch thick and approximately 12 inches in diameter, and line your pie pan with it, overhanging the edges. Roll out your second pie crust to around the same size and thickness. At this point, do what you want with it: make a lattice by cutting long strips with a pizza cutter or sharp knife, or use a tiny cookie cutter to cut out shapes all over the top crust; you do you.
Spoon filling into bottom crust, pouring liquid over top once finished. Arrange the top crust over the fruit as you’d like, then trim the bottom crust edges; fold over edges of top crust and crimp the perimeter using your fingers or a fork to seal. Using a pastry brush, brush beaten egg mixture over top of pie: sprinkle demerara sugar (granulated sugar works here too) over top for a little sparkle and crunch. Set the pie on the parchment-lined baking sheet, place on middle rack of oven and bake for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350˚F and bake for another 30 to 45 minutes until bubbling all over. Remove to a wire rack and let cool completely* before serving.
*if you cut into this when it’s at all warm, you’ll be met with a rush of strawberry juice, which makes it really hard to get out proper slices out of the pan. This sets up very nicely once it hits room temperature, which does mean waiting. I’m sorry: very, very sorry.