April 23, 2018
This is about...
Fresh Strawberry Pie---YUM!! (and UH-OH---The 2108 “Dirty Dozen”)
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        SPRING MEANS STRAWBERRIES. And strawberries mean at least one springtime pie for me. And this pie is easy, yummy and highlights this fresh, sweet fruit----
It’s that time of the year for the Dirty Dozen “Awards.”
released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for the most pesticide contaminated fruits and vegetables. AND, HOLDING THE TOP POSITION FOR THE THIRD YEAR IN A ROW ???  STRAWBERRIES! Oh no! What’s gonna happen to my pie??
        Their findings are PRETTY SCARY-- ONE THIRD OF ALL CONVENTIONAL, OR NON- ORGANIC, STRAWBERRY SAMPLES CONTAINED 10 OR MORE PESTICIDES! There was even one sample containing an "astounding" 22 pesticide residues. YIKES! And even though, according to federal safety standards, the amount of these chemicals is considered within safe consumption levels---would you really want to risk it?? Not me. These chemicals have been proven to lead to health problems, especially in our most vulnerable -- our children.
        So??? No ands, ifs, or buts about it. Always, always buy organic strawberries!
        ONCE YOU’VE PURCHASED YOUR ORGANIC STRAWBERRIES, MAKING THIS PIE IS A SNAP! The graham cracker crust requires no rolling. Just press it into a pie plate or tart pan and bake for a few minutes. Then, it’s a simple matter of spreading a no-bake cream cheese filling into the pie shell, and adding a tumble of fresh, sweet berries that have been tossed in a simple, shiny glaze of strawberry jam. WHAT COULD BE BAD? ESPECIALLY NOW THAT YOU’VE ELIMINATED THAT PESKY PESTICIDE PROBLEM.

LESSONS Learned:
1. Buy organic strawberries!
2. You really want to evenly pack the graham cracker crumbs into the pie plate. The bottom of a metal measuring cup or drinking glass is an easy way to do that.
3. The crust does not have to be baked. You can freeze it for about an hour before filling. It will be more crumbly though.
4. If you notice that the crust is sticking to the pie plate, wet some paper towels with hot water and wrap them around the plate, and the crust will loosen right up.
5. For a pretty presentation, fill the pie with all of the glazed berries. BUT TO SERVE MORE EASILY, I like to cut slices from the cream cheese filled pie, and then spoon the berries on top of each slice.

        NOW AS FAR AS THAT DIRTY DOZEN: ALWAYS TRY TO BUY ORGANIC WHEN YOU CAN! If they’re too expensive, at the very least, make sure to rinse the fruits and veggies for at least 30 seconds. And if possible, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to soak them in a sink full of water with a splash of vinegar for 15 minutes.
        FYI: THE EWG GLEANS THEIR INFORMATION FROM the work done by the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, who test OVER 38,000 NON-ORGANIC FRUITS AND VEGETABLES EVERY YEAR.
Here’s the full list of the EWG's 2018 "Dirty Dozen":
1. Strawberries     2. Spinach     3. Nectarines     4. Apples
5. Grapes     6. Peaches     7. Cherries     8. Pears
9. Tomatoes     10. Celery     11. Potatoes     12. Sweet Bell Peppers

Fresh Strawberry Pie

For the crust:
10 sheets graham crackers, 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch salt
pinch ground cinnamon, optional
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the filling and topping:
8 ounces full fat cream cheese, softened, I like Philadelphia brand
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
6 cups halved or quartered (if large) fresh strawberries, about 2 pounds or 3 pints
¼ cup strawberry jam or preserves, I like Stonewall Kitchen

Make the crust:
        Place the rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9” pie plate with cooking spray.
        Add the graham crackers, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Process into fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and process to combine well. Alternatively, in a medium-size bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt, and stir in the melted butter and combine well. Put the mixture into the pie plate, and press firmly, packing it into the bottom and up the sides. The bottom of a metal measuring cup or glass will make it easier. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

Make the filling:
        Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sweetened condensed milk and beat to combine. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat until very smooth. Pour into the cooled crust, spreading to the sides to create an even layer. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, not touching the filling. Freeze until firm, at least 3 hours, or overnight in the fridge.
        When ready to serve, gently heat the preserves, to thin them out. In a medium size bowl, toss the strawberries and preserves together until completely coated. Remove the pie from the freezer. The easiest way to serve is to cut slices first, and then spoon the berries over each slice. But, for a pretty presentation, top with all of the berries and then cut the slices. Just know that it might be a little harder to neatly slice the pie that way.
Makes 6-8 servings.       YUM!
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