Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pi and Pie

     Today was one of those beautifully idyllic summer days.  It's mid-June and the strawberries were rumored to be ready.  Being huge fans of fresh-picked strawberries, I did some research and found several places that were picking. I found and cleaned up our old strawberry flat, Nate and Elli chose picking containers, packed some lemonade and we were ready to scoot.

     Our goal was ten pounds.  This represented a huge undertaking with the kids as in past years complaints typically began after the first quart.  I prepped them on the way sharing our goal of 10 pounds and giving them the picture that it would probably fill Mama's box. "I want to pick 13 pounds Mama, I'm going to pick 10 baskets!" Nate chimed enthusiastically.  Amazingly Nate and Elli set about to filling their containers, and their bellies, chit chatting about what they would make, what recipes they'd create, and the creation of a strawberry carnival.  With their first containers being filled and my box about half full I was feeling optimistic.  That's when I heard it, "Mama, I need to go to the bathroom."  "Mama, I'm tired when will we be done?"  We took care of the first issue and I encouraged them to keep picking.  Their picking pretty much stalled out.

     A few moments later I heard, "Mama, what's 12 plus 12?"  I debated throwing the question back at Nate, but a sudden thought brought me in a different direction.

 "24," I answered then asked, "What's 8 + 5?"

Nate thought it out, "13." Then threw out, "What's 100 trillion plus 100 trillion?" 

I countered, "200 trillion, what's 15 plus 8?"  A bit of a pause... "5 plus what equals 8?" I ask.

 "5 plus 3 is 8." He responds confidently.

"Ok, what's 15 plus 5 plus 3?  Remember you can break numbers apart to make it easier."

Some thinking, "22 no 23."  All while this exchange is going on, I continue picking.  "Mama what's pi plus 3?"

I'm surprised, but answer "6.14.  How do you know pi?"

Nate's eyes twinkle, "Papa taught me."

The next series of questioning relates to pi plus whatever he thinks of.  Every now and then I ask him to fill his basket before we keep going with math problems. I'm happy my box is getting full, and while he's not consistently picking, he's not complaining.    Another picker stops long enough to ask if we're homeschooling.  "Nope, just distracting (but in reality, isn't everything our children do and think a form of schooling?),"  I respond with a smile. Nate revisits his initial line of questioning related to dozens.  "Mama, what's one dozen plus one dozen?  I like dozens."

"24, can you pick two dozen berries?  How full does that make your basket?"

Nate eagerly picks two dozen.  "One, two, three, four..."  He dumps them into the box which is now 3/4 of the way full.  "I want to pick one dozen, then two dozen, then three dozen, then four, then five!" 

"I bet if you do that then we'll have a full box!"  Nate's interest in picking is renewed and in a few short minutes our box is full.  At the counter the kids are fascinated with the scale and the lady is pretty chill allowing the kids to weigh whatever they think of.  Then came our berries. Sure enough Nate's offhand desire to pick 13 pounds is a reality! 

    After picking strawberries we had a nice lunch, discovered a new park with swimming then came home and made strawberry pie for dessert.  The day was amazing, as is my husband who just hulled all the berries.  We all agree that there's nothing quite like the sweetness of strawberry pie made with fresh picked berries.  I was given this recipe 14 years ago at my wedding shower and it's become a seasonal favorite every year. 

Lynn's Strawberry Pie
A gift from Lynn Nugent

1 quart fresh strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
red food coloring (I've always omitted this)
1 baked pie shell of your choosing I've used traditional, Oreo, shortbread, and graham depending on what's available.  All are good.

1. Crush 1/2 cup of the berries and set the rest aside.
2.  Combine the crushed berries with the sugar and water in a saucepan. 
3.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved and bring to a boil.
4. Make a paste with the cornstarch and a bit of water and then add to the boiling strawberry mixture in a thin stream stirring constantly.
5.  Cook until clear and thick.
6.  Remove from heat and stir in butter, lemon juice, and food coloring if using.  Cool.
7.  While the sauce is cooling, slice remaining strawberries and arrange them in the cooked pie crust.  8.  Pour the cooled sauce over the strawberries in the pie shell and serve or refrigerate. 
9.  Enjoy as is or with some whipped cream.

Note:  This pie is best served the day that it is made as the berries start to give up their juices making the crust soggy. 

Ok - It tastes much better than this pic. looks!

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