When I was a kid, our family was guaranteed to dine out at least one meal a week. Occasionally, my parents would get tired of our whining and let my brother and I choose the restaurant. Nine times out of ten, I chose Shoney's, which was an institution where I grew up. I didn't choose it based on their bright colors, the Big Boy out front, or even for the delicious French Fries. I chose it based on their amazing desserts, especially the Strawberry Pie.
If you've never had it, you're probably wondering how good it can really be. Well, I'm here to tell you that its amazing! I even have a story to back up that claim. On one of our jaunts to the restaurant when I was about 8 or 9, in my sugary haze I mentioned to the waitress taking our order that I was just there for the pie. She laughingly told me that she had many regulars who came in weekly just to order an entire Strawberry Pie to take home with them. I'm sure my eyes must have been as big as saucers. You could order AN ENTIRE PIE!!! My parents quickly attempted to shut me down, and normally I was the better-behaved of their two children. But this waitress had planted the seed, and I wasn't about to give up. I wanted my very own pie. I pleaded, whined, and pouted through the entire meal. And when that didn't work, and it looked like we were about to leave without my pie, I pitched the biggest tantrum of my childhood. A full-on HISSY fit. And, probably due to their shock at their first-born screaming like a two-year-old, my parents gave in and bought me AN ENTIRE PIE of my very own.
As an adult, I still loved the Strawberry Pie. But it was getting harder and harder to find a Shoney's in all of the different that I've lived. Since its frowned upon for adults to pitch tantrums, I sweet-talked someone who worked there into giving me a version of the recipe. (Bear in mind, this was a million years ago, before you could just browse the internet for your favorite recipes.) This recipe was one of the first desserts I ever made, long before I learned how to bake. I've had it so long that the index card its written on is faded, stained, and dog-eared. I've made it at least twice every summer since I had my first apartment (we won't discuss how long ago that was), and the only thing that's really changed is that I know how to make a homemade pie crust now, and that I'm slightly more willing to share.
So, down to business. First, this pie is yummy whether you use a store-bough crust or whip one up from scratch. Just make sure to use a deep dish crust. Either way, go ahead and blind bake the crust, i.e. bake the crust without the filling, and set it aside to cool. Next, clean, hull, and slice your strawberries. How small you slice them is entirely up to you- halved, quartered, whatever. Just make sure that when you pour the sauce over the berries that you're careful to spoon it down into every nook and cranny.
From here on out, its just a dump, heat, and stir technique. Dump the water, sugar, and cornstarch into a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling. Stir constantly. Reduce heat and simmer; keep stirring. Once it thickens, which happens faster than you'd think, remove the pan from heat, dump the Jello mix in, and stir until dissolved. Dump over the strawberries in the pie. Refrigerate until set, usually at least 4 hours. Top it off with some whipped cream, and dig in. Waiting time aside, its probably one of the easiest pies that you'll ever make.