Summer is in full swing here in Arkansas! The sun is shining, and the humidity is through the roof. Stepping outside is like stepping into a sauna. A sauna with mosquitos… The plus side, however, is that summer fruits are plentiful! And while fruit is great on it’s own, sometimes the old sweet tooth takes over and you start craving a decadent fruit dessert. On a recent occasion, we turned to Cook’s Country for a recipe for Strawberry Chiffon Pie. It was amazing. Light and sweet, it’s perfect for summer, plus you only need to bake the crust (or buy one if you’re into shortcuts), which means you don’t have to heat up the whole house.
1 (5.3-ounce) box shortbread cookies, broken into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons water
12 ounces strawberries, hulled (2 1/2 cups), plus 8 ounces strawberries, hulled, halved, and sliced thin (1 1/3 cups)
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 large egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled
- FOR THE CRUST: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 9-inch pie plate. Process cookies, sugar, and salt in food processor until finely ground, about 1 minute. Add almonds and pulse until coarsely chopped, about 8 pulses. Add melted butter and pulse until combined, about 10 pulses. Transfer crumb mixture to pie plate. Using bottom of dry measuring cup, press crumbs evenly into bottom and up sides of plate. Bake until crust is golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. Let crust cool completely on wire rack, about 30 minutes. (Crust can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours.)
- FOR THE FILLING: Sprinkle gelatin over water in small bowl and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Process hulled whole strawberries in food processor until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl and press on solids to extract 1 cup of juice; discard solids. Whisk 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and strawberry juice together in small saucepan.
- Bring juice mixture to simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Off heat, whisk in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Transfer to large bowl, stir in lemon juice, and let cool completely, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip whites to soft, billowy mounds, about 1 minute. Gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and whip until glossy, stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk one-third of meringue into cooled strawberry mixture until smooth. Fold remaining meringue into strawberry mixture until only few white streaks remain.
- In now-empty mixer bowl, whip cream on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Gently fold whipped cream into strawberry mixture until no white streaks remain. Fold in sliced strawberries. Spoon filling into crust and spread into even layer using back of spoon. Refrigerate pie for at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours. Serve.
If you’ve wondered where Brian and I have been all summer, well, let me tell ya.
1. I graduated! In May of 2014, after three long years of evening classes and weekend papers, I donned my billowy gown and square cap to receive my masters hood and my Master of Arts Management degree in Arts Business and Entrepreneurship from Columbia College Chicago.
2. To celebrate, Brian and I spent a nice weekend with his parents and sister and a few of my classmates-turned-best-friends. We laughed. We cried (from laughter). We drank a lot of margaritas!
3. THEN WE PACKED UP OUR LIVES AND MOVED TO ARKANSAS. That’s right, folks. If you haven’t heard, we’re living in Fort Smith now, and we plan to be here for the next two years.
4. Arkansas, the land of fried-foods-a-plenty.
5. We’re living in this beast of a house, which is just a short walk and an evener shorter bike ride from the downtown strip and the Arkansas river. The house belongs to my mother, and Brian and I are doing our best to fix it up for her while she and my little brother live near my grandmother in Louisiana. This will be an adventure.
6. As an historic home—close to 100 years old, I believe—it’s full of old timey charm and interesting quirks. More on that to come…
7. My favorite part? The house is big enough for me to have my very own studio! It’s a dream come true. It’s all a bit of a mess right now as we search for furniture and storage solutions, but I can’t wait to show you the progress.
8. We also love having our own outdoor space, complete with a porch swing and our little herbs. Pictured above are Umberto, the chocolate mint, and Dilly, our sweet baby dill plant.
9. Not long after we got here, I decided to get a haircut. Yup, I had it all chopped off!
10. This is Sugars! We found her on our porch during a rainstorm. She was near death, so we rushed her to the emergency vet clinic, got her some medicine and nursed her back to relative health over a few days. Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep her, nor could we find anyone to adopt her. In the end we had to take her to the Humane Society, where they said they’d take good care of her and find her a happy home. It broke my heart to say goodbye to her tiny precious face, but our own two cats (the little rascals) are about all we can handle.
11. I turned 28! My birthday celebrations were just perfect and included many beautiful handmade presents, breakfast in bed, flea market fun, digging in the mud for diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds State Park, and a picture-perfect picnic. I’m so grateful to everyone who called, texted, visited, and sent happy wishes in the mail!
12. We didn’t find any diamonds, but we did find a lot of mud!
13. We got to travel to Miami for the wedding of Brian’s very nice cousin Patrick and his sweet bride Sara. The guests were warm and friendly, the food was delish, and music was lively. We had a blast!
14. After the wedding, the Wests took a family vacation to Key West. Man, oh man, was it a perfect trip.
15. & 16. A week later, we got to travel back to Chicago to be a part of the wedding of two of our dearest friends, Carolyn & Ali. I even got to be the flower girl! It was so nice to spend time with our besties again in Chicago. I miss you all already!
17. & 18. Since we’ve been back, I’ve been busy as a bumble bee making some new items for the Westervin shop.
19. & 20. And I’ve been making plans for selling at craft fairs this holiday season. Brian helped me whip up some booth displays.
So that’s what we’ve been up to. Now that our lives have settled down a bit, you’ll be hearing more from us regularly. Stay tuned!