When I first got an Apple IIE computer, in 1982, my kids were quite young. There were no programs available at all, and “users” (as computer owners were called) would write short programs, put them on 5” floppy disks and swap them for free to grow our available software. I learned to write Apple Basic language (fairly easy to do) and wrote programs for my kids – including a Bible Trivia game, and math games.

I remember the very earliest “bulletin boards” which were the first attempt at an Internet network. Every group had its own telephone number (usually long-distance, before there were 800 numbers) that you had to dial on your dial-up modem, and log in to before you could post a message and have a conversation. A person on the other end had to be online at the same moment to see your message and answer. There were literally thousands of phone numbers across the country, usually based at a corporation or hospital or college which had a large server and a group of users who could access it.

I once received a phone bill for nearly $100 which I hid from my husband. I quit the BBs for a very long time, and paid the bill myself out of my grocery budget, a few dollars a month. (That's 1980s dollars! Like, saying $500 today!)

  The local computer stores would provide meeting space for user groups and post the phone numbers and provide swaps for our software disks. Everybody helped each other – but in person, as there really wasn’t an Internet to work with. This was before AOL, before Netscape, etc. When those tools arrived we thought we’d died and gone to heaven!!

The first word processing program commercially available that I remember was PFS Write. It was exciting because it eliminated a lot of the extra formatting you had to know when writing your own programs. We had a Racal modem, quite state-of-the-art at the time, and one of those huge dot-matrix printers that used paper on a continuous roll, that you had to tear apart at the perforations. It made a ton of noise and shook the printer stand when it was running.

My kids learned a great deal with that early Apple set-up, which was replaced later with one of the first Macintosh desktops, and there've been many others since then, including several PCs.

No one even has to know HTML much anymore to create brilliant websites, post their photos, make wonderful art, music and games.

We take so much for granted and change occurs so rapidly, that it's amazing to believe that nearly 30 years have passed since those first heady days as a "computer geek". I almost want to say, "What Hath God Wrought?"...
 
 
Lately I've had a yen for the sweet-tart flavor combo of strawberries and rhubarb. I don't think I've had any in more than 20 years, since no one in my extended family likes rhubarb. (But then, they don't like liver, either. How can you savor pâté de foie gras, if you don't like liver??)

And of course both strawberries and rhubarb are plentiful in the supermarket and even farmers' markets right now. My sister challenged me to try cooking them myself (even though she had no interest in the results) so finally I determined to try it.

Mind you, I don't do a lot of baking, especially pies, now that I'm living alone. My late husband loved to make strawberry pie himself, but for him this just consisted of fresh strawberries with a commercial glaze poured over them in a pie shell. Not hard work.

I bought two pints of California strawberries (the local ones came and went so quickly I couldn't find them anymore). Also, the equivalent of two cups (about a pound) of rhubarb, already trimmed. Since they looked so yummy I also bought deep red Bing cherries earlier in the week and had about one cup of those left.

For a crust, I had to go through my baking cookbooks. I just don't make my own pie crust - it's easier to buy the ready-made that you unroll into the pan. But I thought, "what the heck - In for a penny, in for a pound!" (as my Grandma Jones used to say.)

In the Fanny Farmer Baking Cookbook, I found a recipe for a Sour Cream pie crust. I just happened to have less than a cup of fat-free sour cream on hand (excellent on berries instead of whipped cream). The recipe also called for butter instead of lard or vegetable shortening, which sealed the deal.

Making the Crust

Basically the recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup butter, 1/3 cup sour cream, 1 tsp salt (less if you're using salted butter), and 1 tablespoon milk plus a few drops extra if needed. Combine the flour, salt and butter with two forks, your fingers, a pastry cutter, or a food processor. Add the sour cream and mix with a fork. Add the tablespoon of milk, and form into a ball with your hands. If too crumbly add a few drops more milk until it can be handled without falling apart.

Form into a disk, flour your surface and rolling pin, and roll out the dough to a circle large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the tart or pie pan. Place into the pan and set aside.

I think in hindsight I'd have used a regular pie pan, since it would have had a flatter bottom and the pie would be easier to serve. Also, I could have baked it first to keep it from getting soggy with the berries. Hindsight is not helpful at the time, however.

Strawberry-Cherry-Rhubarb Filling

So here's how I made the filling:

2 cups fresh rhubarb
1 cup fresh Bing cherries (optional)
2 cups fresh strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cornstarch

Clean, pit, hull and chop the fruit into 1/2 inch pieces (cherries in half, large strawberries in quarters). Place in a large bowl. Add all of the rest of the ingredients, and toss the fruit to coat with the mixture. You can also add a dash of nutmeg, ginger, and/or ground cloves if you wish.

Pour the fruit into the pie shell, and spread to the sides. Make sure any liquid in the bowl is added to the pie.

Bake it at 425 degrees, for 30 minutes or until the edges of the crust are golden brown. Cool for about 1/2 hour before serving - add whipped cream, ice cream on the side, or eat plain.

Eating this all by myself leaves me with no regrets, whatsoever.