Perfect for Mother’s Day: Mama’s Strawberry Pie Recipe

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Mother’s Day isn’t just for mothers here in Chapel Hill. The Hallmark holiday is eclipsed, every second Sunday of May, by commencement at UNC. Moms, unless your child is graduating and you’ve booked a reservation months in advance, don’t expect to be taken out to eat by your family on May 8. If you’re lucky, they’ll cook for you.

Here in town, every single soul in the restaurant business – whether mother, husband or child – will be at the service of graduates’ families that day, not their own. If you have the good fortune of dining out this Mother’s Day, send vibes of appreciation to these hard-working folks. A little gratitude goes a long way for those who can’t be with their own families, and a generous tip doesn’t hurt either.

As for me, I graduated from the restaurant business a while back and now understand, and embrace, the concept of weekends. Though some of my children still work on Mother’s Day, the others gather for Sunday dinner at our house. My husband grills, everyone brings a dish, and I cook just one thing: a savory bread pudding. This foolproof dish can be made the night before, allowing time (theoretically) to lollygag in bed on Mother’s Day morning.

If I’m really lucky, my grandchildren will have picked strawberries from a local field, and someone will make my own mother’s recipe for strawberry pie. Here’s the recipe:

Mama’s Strawberry Pie

This strawberry pie is an old-fashioned recipe most likely developed by Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk. A cousin of Key lime pie, it’s delicious made with our wonderful North Carolina strawberries, usually at their peak in early May.

1 baked 9-inch pie shell, either traditional pastry crust or graham cracker crust
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
4 Tbsp. lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1 1⁄2-2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped coarsely
1 cup whipping cream, beaten with sugar to taste until stiff
Extra strawberries for garnish

Beat together the condensed milk, lemon juice and salt with an electric mixer until it thickens. Stir in the strawberries. Pour into cool pie shell, top with whipped cream and decorate with halved or whole strawberries. Refrigerate a few hours before serving.

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Moreton Neal

Moreton Neal is an author and interior designer who lives in Chapel Hill. She is a lifelong foodie, having co-founded LA Residence in 1976. 
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