Strawberry 7Up Pie and
MISS AMERICAN PIE
My mother wasn’t too excited by cooking when I was growing up. Or, to put it more accurately, she never relished hours in the kitchen because there was always plenty else to do. As an artist and mother of five, Mama was a whiz of creativity and endearing distraction at almost everything she did, from cooking to housecleaning to painting portraits of local preachers and bank presidents. My sisters, brother and I share the fond memory of an oft-repeated scene: my mother jumping up from her chair in panic at the first whiff of burning breakfast toast or dinner rolls and my father responding without a touch of irony: “It’s fine, Bobbie Sue. I like it better that way.”
Like most people in Louisiana, my family loved to eat. My grandmother Momma Doll made mouth-watering chicken dumplings from scratch and my sister Stella baked bread. Because my father was much beloved physician, folks were always bringing over paper sacks full of fresh peas and beans. I regularly ate homemade crabapple jelly and fig preserves, crawfish, meat pie, biscuits and gumbo. When the pantry ran low, Mama relied on Hamburger Helper, which she considered a truly nifty invention — not unlike iron-on patches or the vacuum cleaner — for rescuing busy homemakers.
As a teenager in the 1970s, I thought “homemade” instant food far more fun than rolling dumpling dough and experimented with the likes of cool whip and instant Tang. During the hot Louisiana summers, a 7Up pie was a delight on a par with “coke floats.” (If you don’t know that one, it’s simple. Pour cold coca-cola into a large glass filled with vanilla ice cream. Heaven.) I’m pretty sure that hot spiced tea remains a standard comfort food for winter days in the deep South. My friends and I made it in big batches. We poured it into Mason jars and tied ribbons around the lids. With hand-decorated labels, these made great holiday gifts. They still do.
Like my diaries, these recipes contain memories. I’ve pulled them from the attic detritus of my past and share them here because they evoke the salad days of my youth — some of the tastiest ones.
Strawberry 7Up Pie
Adapted from The Cotton Country Collection, published by the Monroe, Louisiana Junior Charity League (1972)
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
6 ounces lemon-lime flavored soda, such as 7Up
A few dashes red food coloring, or enough to turn syrup shade of red
1 20-ounce package frozen strawberries, thawed and drained, or 3 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 9-inch piecrust, baked
Whipped cream or nondairy whipped topping, such as Cool Whip
- In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, lemon-lime flavored soda, and food coloring. Simmer over medium heat until mixture thickens, approximately ten minutes. Allow to cool.
- Add strawberries, stir to coat, and pour mixture into baked pie shell. Top with nondairy whipped topping, if using, and chill well for several hours before serving. If using whipped cream, first chill the filled pie shell for several hours, then top with whipped cream before serving.
Yield: 1 9-inch pie, 6 to 8 servings
This tea may also be served cold.
1/2 cup sweetened iced tea mix powder
1/2 cup orange-flavored drink mix powder, such as Tang
1/2 cup sweetened lemonade-flavored drink mix powder
1/2 cup sugar (more or less depending on your sweet tooth)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. For each serving, place 2 to 3 rounded teaspoons of the mixture into a mug and add very hot water. Stir until mixture dissolves.
Yield: Approximately 25 servings