Strawberry Pie

A while back I posted on Avocado Pie, a recipe given to me by a friend during my college years in the 70’s. He was one of three male classical musicians who shared a beautiful home in Santa Barbara, California.

I moved away from, S.B. in 1978, but retrospectively, I know one of them had the AIDS virus. It saddens me to think back on all of the beautiful and gifted gay men I’d known who most likely died from the horrid disease.

In this particular house there was also a young woman renter who was working on her PhD in Russian Literature. And oh, she was brilliant. I could talk to her for hours, soaking up her insane intelligence, all while listening to Beethoven’s Pathetique in the background…

It’s so sad that in my life I’ve moved so often, and maybe out of self-preservation, I’ve not been good at staying in touch. I so wish I could know where she is and what she became, because I know she’s somebody really special. But the reason I bring her up from this time in my life, is that we actually shared a joy of cooking. Or, maybe I should say I had a joy of eating, because I hadn’t started cooking seriously yet.

And it is from this girlfriend that I got her hand-written recipe for strawberry pie. (Isn’t it funny that some brilliant people have the worst handwriting?!)

The crust is made with saltines. I remember being a bit skeptical, since I was already a food snob at 20; my only familiarization with saltines was that they were for sick people. But once I tasted the pie, I knew it was a keeper.

Strawberry Pie with Walnut-Saltine Crust

17 saltines, crushed
1 cup white sugar
Approximately 1 cup walnut halves, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla or vanilla powder
3 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a deep-dish pie pan. And I mean grease the hell out of it.

Place the crushed saltines in a medium bowl. Add the white sugar, chopped walnuts and vanilla. Set aside.

In a large bowl, place the egg whites, and using an electric mixer, whip the whites until peaks form. Add the saltines, sugar, walnuts, and vanilla, and using a spatula, fold everything together.

Place the mixture in the pie pan, and spread around to shape into a crust.

Bake for 25-30 minutes; crust should be firm.

Let the crust fully cool before continuing with the pie filling.

3 cups sliced strawberries
1 tablespoon sugar
8 ounces whipping cream

Place the berries in a medium-sized bowl and toss with the sugar. Let them sit for 30 minutes.

Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Place the cream in the crust, overlapping the sides. I used a whipper, hoping the cream would look better. It didn’t.

“Plop” the strawberries on top and serve immediately.

What I forgot is how challenging it is to get a slice of pie intact onto a plate. What a mess.

Next time I might form the crust into a 10” disc, baked on greased parchment. Or maybe even cut out squares to serve as a “cookie” served with the strawberries and cream. Ideas?

The slightly sweetened strawberries plus the cream, plus the nutty meringue crust pieces – fabulous.

Maybe I should put this recipe in the “Why I Don’t Bake” category!

56 thoughts on “Strawberry Pie

  • Fresh Strawberry pie, now your talking. I don’t think I’ve had a saltine crust before or maybe I did and didn’t know it. Great idea.
    Great background story as well. I too moved around and lost contact with old friends. I guess it’s the sacrifice I got for the choices I made. But, it would be interesting to know how my old uni roommate made out in life.

    • I went to 8 schools before graduating high school, and after college chose to keep moving for my career. After marriage it was a necessity, and without cell phones… I just wish I could remember names, because I have found a few old girlfriends on Facebook!

  • Good story. This recipe to me seems a mix between pavlova and a hazelnut meringue cake — the latter obviously with walnuts instead of hazelnuts. You are right it is messy to serve, but it is delicious. If you have small tart pans you could make individual tartlets that can be served whole.

  • It’s really difficult moving so often, isn’t it? We do meet a lot of people but then now our friends are all over the world and different time zones. This saltine crust sounds really good, the sweet and salty factor we always crave. Hope your hand and arm are on a speedy recovery! Take care

    • Paula and Georgia were two of my college roommates, and I can’t remember their last names! I’d love to look them up.

    • That’s my “excellent,” I’ve always written on recipes! If you already like saltines, you’ll love this crust!

  • Oh, Mimi — this just plopped me back into the late 70s when I was in music school… similar stories and similar losses. The weird thing is that I almost never move. I have moved 3 times since I graduated with my Masters in 1981. And I’m one of those weirdos who knows people still from when I was 3 years old… and from grade school… and on… But, throughout all these years, no one has ever given me a recipe like this one. And I don’t think I have had a saltine since my father died 22 years ago. Maybe it’s time to make a strawberry pie … and I think I would definitely include some parchment, whether on a cookie sheet or in a springform.

    • My husband knows kids from kindergarten, and I’ve always been in awe of that. A bit jealous. I moved growing up like i was an army brat, except I wasn’t. California, France, Washington, New York, and then Utah before graduating high school. Ooops, that’s actually 9 schools. I forgot about France. As a really shy kid, it was so hard, but I did get to see a lot, and meet different kinds of people. A wonderful mix in California, Asians in Seattle, Jews in NY, and Mormons in Utah, which is why i left 😳 and went to California for school. Then to TX 😳. Tough on a little hippy gal, but I was a geologist and had to move where the oil fields were. I hope you make this. And help me figure out what the hell to do with this crust! What did you get your degrees in?

      • Wow, those were some diverse places to live. Give me France any day! As for the oil fields, I guess you didn’t have much choice. Funny, of all the sciences, geology was my favorite. My degrees are both in music performance and literature — BM and MM — my instrument was the double bass. I played professionally for 14 years as principal bass of the Albany (NY) Symphony Orchestra and then decided to go into nonprofit management because I wanted to buy a house and have a life!

      • Impressive!!! A house and live are nice… It’s funny. People either loved geology or really hated it!

  • Well I think it’s beautiful and I also share your fond memories of magical Santa Barbara (PS I must be a genius because my handwriting is much worse than you college pal’s!). GREG

    • Thank you. The last place I lived in SB was in a mother-in-law cottage some ways above the mission. It was so beautiful. And maybe you are a genius!

  • WOW! this looks so interesting, I wonder how it tastes. I guess the only way to know is to try the recipe:) Thank you for sharing and I love your post!

    • It’s like a walnutty meringue with texture.
      And it’s a nice combination with the strawberries and cream!

  • Oh yes, same as doctors…brilliant people with worst handwriting 🤪
    This pie is made to be eaten with the spoon directly from the pan 😋😋 So delicious 😋 🤤🍓

    • I know I’ve done it successfully before, so it must just be about excessive greasing of the pie pan. At least it’s still somewhat enticing on the plate all jumbled together!

  • Mimi, this recipe intrigues me (as do your stories) — never heard of a saltine meringue crust before. I’ve eaten soda cracker “bars” laden with chocolate & caramel or consumed them crumbled on top of “hot dish” (courtesy of my MN heritage, LOL) but this is a new one to me and it sounds totally fantastic! Salty, sweet, fresh strawberries & whipped cream… swoon. Thanks for sharing a lil’ bit of your history, too, xo.

    • You’re so welcome. It’s not a typical recipe i would make, but certainly one from my (lengthy) history with food!

  • What a beautiful and bittersweet story. And this recipe seems like a great memento of that time. I think the Saltine crust sounds really interesting. I’ll have to find some good strawberries.

  • Saltines make a terrific crust. Wonderful pie — such a nice recipe. And such fond memories of people in your life. I’m terrible at staying in touch, too — a huge weakness of mine. :-(

    • Well, you’re the only person I’ve known to say that about saltines! But this crusty is fabulous. The pie, too. You’d think with cell phones it would be easier to stay in touch…

  • Oh wow Mimi!! This looks amazing. I love a strawberry dessert and yours is perfect. Very interesting using the crackers for the crumb. Macerated strawberries – I’ve died and gone to heaven!! Cheers, hope you are well, safe and healthy!!

  • This dessert is so perfect for this time of year and I agree with everyone–it’s beautiful! And wouldn’t it be the neatest thing if she were to somehow come across this post one day? :)

  • I think the crust sounds very interesting and I would like to try it. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Do you suppose it would work with non-fruit pies? Buttermilk or sweet potato perhaps?

    • Funny thing to ask me. My mother actually loved the crust so much she whipped up a chocolate filling one day, and it was one of the most magnificent pies I’ve ever had. So yes, i think it’s very versatile.

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