Friday, May 16, 2008

Kathleen Strawberries and Cream Pie

I have never liked the colloquialism “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” This trite insensitive statement has almost a patronizing effect, more so than a comforting one. Lemonade isn’t comforting; it doesn’t soothe you or make your belly feel nice and full. If someone is sad, do you hand them lemonade? Of course not, you might offer hot cocoa or a margarita, but lemonade not so much. So for my dear friend, who someone has spitefully spoiled her milk, I say, “When you have buttermilk, make strawberry pie.”

Before you minimize this screen and never return to my humble blog posting, let me tell you two things. 1) Buttermilk isn’t spoiled milk, it is cultured, you know artsy stuff. Just kidding, it is processed much like yogurt. 2) Oh, and for a custard this is a crazy easy pie, no whipping, separating, sifting. Just throw it all in, let take twirl and pour it out.

This Southern signature desert is a combination of a velvety pale yellow cream that is sweet but tart, a crunchy graham cracker crust, and I, just to be extravagant, unapologetically topple over dozens of sweet ripe strawberry slices besprinkled with powdered sugar. If you’re curious, I would call buttermilk custard the uglier and poorer, but friendlier, cousin of crème brulee minus the brulee. And might I add, the buttermilk, brown sugar, and the nutmeg belong together like the Motown Trio. “How sweet it is to be loved by you.”
Preheat your oven 375 F.

Billy Graham Cracker Crust

8 large graham crackers, I like the sugar and cinnamon ones
¼ cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
¼ cup of melted butter (that’s half a stick)
So yes you could blitz this in your food processor but I find it to be much more stress relieving to place the cookies in a ziptop bag and have it with a rolling pin, channel your inner heavy metal guitarist. Should you need some therapeutic incentive, please feel free to write your ex-boy/girlfriends name on the bag. Not that I have ever done that. Once the crackers are sufficiently pullverized add in the other ingredients to your food processor or your rehabilitation ziptop bag. Squig around a bit until you have the consistency of wet sand. (I can't wait to make this with my children. Not that I have children, and not that I am close to marriage, nonethess if you have children, please enjoy this process with them.) Press with your fingers into a pie or tart pan and throw into your hot 375 oven for 10 minutes.

Buttermilk Custard Center

2/3 cup of brown sugar
3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon of salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla
A good sprinkle of nutmeg freshly grated. The old recipe I had said an eighth of a teaspoon but I don’t measure nutmeg from the grater. Just run the aromatic bead against a micro plane for a few seconds.
1 tablespoon of melted butter
1 and ½ cup of buttermilk

Just measure and add all the ingredients in at once, no magical incantation or waiting for eggs to be fully incorporated. Mix until well combined, and pour into your pie shell. This recipe is much like people, a gestalt, what goes into the mixer as meek and modest ingredients lusciously billows out as a golden elixir that perfectly fills your freshly made crust. (Store bought is fine. To me, pie crust is like prayer, sure you can use one already fabricated by a person far far away but why when you can compose one from the heart.) Pop into the oven for 30 minutes at 350 F. Pull out the gilded cream when it is set but still a little wobbly, it is not a cake, it’s a custard.
Dress-up Time

Let the cream cool, and cut up some strawberries as you like. This is a matter of taste, there are some days when I absolutely refuse arrange anything out of principle, but as you like: strewn or arrange your strawberries and dust well with powdered sugar. The sugar will add a wonderful sweetness to pie as well as provide a beautiful glaze. Stawberry juice and sugar, nuff said.
Enjoy, the sooner the better.

The next time your friend is sad, please share with them this pie. I hope that you both have a happy day because of it.

Much love Kathleen, you’re awesome.

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