How meeting your friend from high school turns into strawberry cream pie ~ Jen

I was Facebook resistant for years. Years.

Then my niece convinced me I could lock a Facebook page down so tight that my name wouldn’t even appear in a search. I was ok with that.

I have 42 friends. That’s all.

Thankfully, one of them is my friend Jeannette from high school. We reconnected last summer through our other friend, Kristen.

Jeannette lives an hour away. But it is an hour that all Inland Empire Californians are happy to drive. When it is 117 degrees in my town for the entire month of July, it is a sea-cooled 80 in coastal North County.

Which means that while the rest of the nation is digging out from that last Spring snow, or sandbagging for the Spring thaw, in Southern California, we have this:

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The other day we piled up the kids and went to a U-Pick field.

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Kate had the bucket for 10 minutes and not one strawberry made it in. Not one.

And yes, she did accessorize it up for this adventure.

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Gabe took picking seriously, so much that he was standing in six inches of mud to get the best berries. “I had to” he told me.

(Sigh. See previous post.)

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Annie was mostly unimpressed, but that’s because I woke her up from a nap.

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At the end, the kids had strawberry juice everywhere. Evan is actually dripping in this picture.

Luckily, I had wipes. We cleaned them up before we walked backed to the car, past the sign that said “No eating while picking”.

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On the ride home, we talked about what to do with all our strawberries. Gabe and I decided we would make a strawberry cream pie. So we turned this:

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Into this:

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I had to hurry, because every moment, there were less and less berries in the bowl.

Shea blames Lizzie, but I’m on to him. Her fur is white. If she was eating berries, I would know.

Thanks to Go Bold With Butter (www.goboldwithbutter.com) for the recipe:

Strawberry Cream Pie

Vanilla Cream Filling:

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons flour

¼ teaspoon salt

2/3 cup sugar

3 cups half and half

6 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla

Crust:

1 ½ cups chocolate cookie crumbs (I used chocolate Teddy Grahams and processed them in the mini-prep)

½ cup butter, melted

1 quart strawberries

Directions:

Begin by making the filling. In a medium-size saucepan, whisk together cornstarch, flour, salt and sugar. In a small bowl, whisk together half-and-half, egg yolks and vanilla. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the cornstarch mixing, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. When it thickens, remove from heat, and push through a fine sieve. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours. This can be made 24 hours ahead of time.

Hull strawberries, cut in half and toss with a tablespoon of sugar. Let rest for two hours.

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350°. Mix the cookie crumbs with melted butter and press into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes, cool completely on a rack.

Pour the vanilla filling into the cooled crust. Arrange strawberries over the top of the pie.

Keep the pie in the fridge until ready to serve.

Nutritional Information (10 servings):

Calories: 408; Fat: 23; Cholesterol: 181 mg; Carbs: 43.9; Protein: 7.7;

The recipe got a grade of D in terms of health. But it’s homemade. And it has 68% of required daily Vitamin C.

That counts for something, right?

Food from Scratch

We are not conspiracy theorists. We believe that the food innovations of a generation ago were developed with good intentions.

But it didn’t work. For the last ten years or so, we’ve had evidence that this food is hurting us. Our weight. Our blood pressure. And cancer.

The food industry and big agriculture will be slow to change. Their businesses are profitable and their argument is twofold: It’s not broke (for them) so don’t fix it; and no one is forcing us to eat their food.

Ish. Read this NY Times article for more on that.

Cancer has walked into our lives, both of us. So we try to do what we can in our own kitchens.

Our motto is “No Fake Stuff”. We use butter, sugar, olive oil and coconut oil, but search for lower sugar and lower fat recipes. We do not do “Fat Free”, “Sugar Free” or even “Low Sugar” if that involves chemicals, like fake sugars. The kids drink 100% juice, watered way down, or water. We buy organic when we can afford it, and the closest thing to it when we can’t. We try to buy local. If we can’t get fresh, we buy frozen. And one of us (Jen) just started canning her own jam and baking her own bread.

It’s true: we can do this stuff because we stay home.

But it’s also true that we were doing some of it while we were still working.

Working moms take a lot of flak in the media and in the blogosphere. So do stay at home moms. We think that sucks.

Another thing that sucks is marketing aimed at working moms that says they are so busy and so worn out from being Supermoms that they don’t have time—to cook, to shop, to bake, to can. This marketing convinces moms that the only solution is some packaged, processed, shelf stable box of food.

The companies that pay for this marketing don’t want you to open a cookbook and see how easy and economical it is to make your own pancakes, bread, applesauce, jam and peanut butter.

And they surely don’t want you to know how much healthier it is.

So we had this idea: what if we did some marketing of our own?

What if we do the legwork? And put the recipes right here where you can find them?

What if we tell you exactly how much time you need to make them, how much it will cost you and how healthy it is? Like we did with the Lentil and Smoked Sausage Soup.

Will you consider that this:

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Is better than this:

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Not to make anyone feel guilty. We hate that. Moms should not feel guilty for doing the best they can.  And not to say “Look what we do!” We hate that more. We aren’t here to compete. We’re here to support and to share ways to be healthy, happy and frugal.

Let’s start with this:

Super Secret Saturday Pancakes (adapted from pg 72 of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book)

These take five minutes to whip up, which is only two minutes longer than adding the milk and eggs to the boxed versions.

1 cup flour

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon cooking oil (such as coconut)

Super secret ingredients: vanilla and cinnamon (we eyeball it)

Mix together and cook! Makes 14 3 inch pancakes (Jen doubles it for her family of five and has some left over)

Optional ingredients: chocolate chips, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc. We drop these in while the first side is cooking to ensure even distribution (in case you also have Chocolate Chip Equality Cops in your house…)

Nutritional Data: 58 calories; 1.7 grams fat; 13 mg cholesterol; 55 mg of sodium; 8.9 grams of carbs (1.8 sugar); 1.9 grams protein; Calcium 4%; Iron 3% 

Cost:

Ingredient Cost (bulk) Cost (per recipe)
1 cup flour $1.99/5 lbs $.19
1 tablespoon sugar $2.19/4 lbs $.02
2 teaspoons baking powder $2.19/10 oz $.03
¼ teaspoon salt $.99/16 oz Less than a penny
1 large egg $4.39/dozen $.37
1 tablespoon oil $3.29/48 oz $.03
Total Cost $15.04 $.68