|Yes. I made this.|
This weekend Troy will celebrate the Strawberry Festival.
Celebrating the Strawberry Festival as a kid was the official way to usher in the summer holiday. For a few years, our ward had a float (that was back then, when they actually did floats) in the parade and I remember stuffing tissue paper into chicken wire to get our floats to match whatever berry silly theme had been chosen for the year. We rode on a few of those floats and even won prizes.
The Boy Scouts in our ward at some point started doing a fundraiser at the Friday night festivities in the downtown square. Friday night was reserved for a children's parade and bed races. There were all sorts of vendors and booths, and the Boy Scouts sold pies. Delicious strawberry pies.
I believe the original recipe came from an older lady in our ward, and throughout the years, my mom and Aunt Elouise in particular, along with the help of women in the relief society, developed the recipe into something that not only tasted better, but was more attractive, and more efficient to make.
The first several years went something like this:
The Boy Scouts would go to Fulton Farms and pick the berries.
The Relief Society would divvy out the jobs from making pie crust shells to glaze and then drop these off Friday morning at our house. (Our house is only three blocks from The Square, and easily accessible through the alleys to the booth set up there.)
Volunteers, be it Boy Scouts, Young Women (mostly Amy and me), and other Relief Society members would meet at our house and top and wash the berries. Then we would pour on the glaze and set up the pies on long tables, which they would set up until they were loaded in the back of a van and driven to Square.
The Boy Scouts would then top them with whip cream, and serve the pies.
Throughout the years, they started doing pre-orders and sold whole pies instead of by the piece. The prices rose. My aunt started working in the school cafeterias and we gained access to nacho cheese and chili meat to put on hot dogs. The enterprise expanded to the point where the health department said that they couldn't be made in our house anymore.
By that point, they were selling a hundred pies at least, with my aunt always pushing to make more. Which could be done as the process streamlined.
Saturday, Amy and I would wake up to the sound of people finding their seats in front of our house, as we were the last street on the parade's route. We would have to move the cars we parked on the street for the day. Members of our ward, school friends, and people we knew would come and find a place on our porch and we would watch and yell at the participants to give us one last performance. (Because we were the tail end of the route, the performers would be tired and ready to be done, and often, we didn't get to hear the bands or watch the dancers.) As a kid, I always loved to see the different pageant queens and courts. Several of my friends competed and won a spot on the Strawberry Queen Court float.
Following the parade, we could go to the levy and walk through the booths. Mostly artisan booths, crafts, and food. There was a duck race at some point, where they would send hundreds of yellow ducks down one side of the river to the other.
Sunday, our regular route to church was diverted because of a 5 or 10k race.
I have good memories of the Strawberry Festival. And it is sad that the last time I was home, the parade had gotten SO lame. It now mostly consists of people driving in cars with a magnet advertising their business. Other changes over the past couple of years also sound sad. No more bed races. A change of venue from the levy. And because of that, a change of procedure for the strawberry pies.
Luckily, not only is the pie famous enough to have the recipe passed down, it's also famously easy to make. I always try to make at least one around this time for a little reminiscing.
I may never be as good as my mom. But I can certainly hold my own. And you can try, too, because here is the recipe:
Strawberry Festival PiePie Crust:
- 1½ C. Flour
- ½ tsp. Sugar
- ½ tsp. Salt
- ½ C. Oil
- 2 T. Milk
- 1½ C. Sugar
- ¼ C. Cornstarch
- 1½ C. Water
- 1 box of Strawberry Jell-O (3 oz.)
- Fresh Strawberries
- Real Whipping Cream
- Vanilla and Sugar to taste
Crust: Blend and press into pie shell. Create an edge at the top to hold the pie filling. Bake at 400° for 10-12 minutes or until light brown. Cool.
Filling: Mix sugar and cornstarch, add water and boil until transparent (~2 minutes), stirring constantly. Add Jell-O and return to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. It should be cooled quite a bit before you use it. The filling will do one deep pie, and you'll probably have leftover glaze. Just double the recipe for two pies.
Put berries into cooled glaze and stir, coating evening. Pour into cooled pie shell. Refrigerate to set completely.
Topping: Serve with Whipped Cream.