Thursday, May 13

Remember - {Strawberry Rhubarb Pie}

I don't remember much about her, I think solemnly as I gently tousle the impressive leaves clouding my sight. My palms are buried deep in my sleeves as I search, crouched low to the ground and tossing my hair occasionally to sweep aside my growing bangs to simplify the hunt. Ruby red or bright green; thick or thin; I'm presented with a plethora of choices. But which would she pick?

I remember the pie from so long ago; within the perfect crust were distinct green and red stalks intermingled with puffed and swollen pink strawberries. It was sweet, but only just so, as the pie drew most of its flavor from the natural sweetness of the included fruits. I'm sure that was what drew me to it. But how to recreate it?


Just like the creation of the pie, most of my memories of her are, unfortunately, fragmented.

I remember a red and green candy dish; glass, fragile and filled with candies I only saw at her house. My favorites were the Strawberry Bon Bons, wrapped in patterned bags with clever twists. No matter how many I asked for and how many I quickly devoured, she always made sure there was at least one more hiding in the bottom of the dish, just waiting to be plucked.

I remember going to the movie theater, and although I don't remember the films, I do remember the way she insisted that my brother, cousins and I brought coats and blankets. "You will be cold," she would gently and knowingly warn as she folded quilts neatly in the living room.

And I remember her being right, even though it was summertime.

I remember eating Reeses Puffs in her kitchen. Reeses Puffs weren't something my parents would buy because back home we ate shredded wheat - the big rectangular kind - tossed with milk or pancakes for breakfast. Why did she buy them for us? Because she was awesome.

I remember her liking the way I cut sheets of paper when we would make crafts at her dining room table. The scissors were sharp, and I could cut the paper without snipping the blades more than once.

And I remember feeling very proud when I "taught" her how to do it too, even though I'm sure she already knew.

I remember the motorhome; stationed in their yard and even parked at campgrounds from time to time. Each opening of the door produced a river of stories about their horses, their adventures with the Michigan Trail Riders and their trips around the state. Stories that I loved.

I remember the smell of peaches, and although I don't remember eating them, I will always love how comforting and familiar the scent is.

As I crouch next to the rhubarb plant, spreading far and reaching wide, these memories rush back as they are apt to now and again. But the numbered memories offer no answer to my question. Undeterred, I begin selecting thin red stalks, shying away from their thicker surroundings for fear that they will be stringy. I think this is what she would have done.

I think it makes sense.

I pluck and pull, discarding the over-sized leaves (which make great fairy caps, if you were wondering) and clutching the precious remaining stalks in my freezing palms. It's raining and the sky won't rest, but I am sure she would collect her crop in the same weather. Besides, this is great pie-making weather. Standing inside, moments later, crashes of thunder are the only sounds I hear and lightning is all I see outside. I'm happy to be inside Dad's kitchen, working dough and chopping fruit; the promise of a great dessert in the near future.


Although her recipe has been passed to me, I'm quite sure that she didn't follow it very strictly because mine always turn out too sweet. So, this time I cast aside the recipe and let intuition be my guide; handfuls of rhubarb went into a bowl with strawberries, sugar, flour and just a pinch of salt. After a gentle toss, I emptied them into a crust.

Of all the recipes I try, this one will always be my favorite and I will always hold it very close to my heart. What I can make isn't perfect, and I know I will never match or best Grandma's, but it's close enough for me.

And that makes me happy.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
This is one of my favorite recipes and certainly one of my favorite things to eat! Feel free to adjust the sugar if your berries aren't super sweet.
Printable Recipe

Crust
Makes enough for one 9" pie with lattice top

1 1/2 c flour
3/4 tsp salt
9 Tbls butter, cubed and frozen
3 Tbls shortening, frozen
6 Tbls water, cold

To make the pie crust, combine the flour and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Add the frozen butter and shortening, then cut in using two forks, a pastry blender, or your hands. Continue working in the butter and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add just enough water to bring the dough together and knead a few times to ensure that the flour is evenly moistened. Divide the dough into two portions: one should be 1/3 of the mass and the other 2/3. Press into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to two days.

When ready to roll, dust your counter with flour. Remove the larger portion of the dough from the fridge and let rest on the counter for 5 minutes to allow it to warm and become more manageable. Roll the dough into a circle large enough to fit your 9" pan and transfer to the pan by rolling the dough around your pin and draping it over the top. Trim so there is about 1" of overhang.

Roll the remaining dough into a 10" x 10" rectangle and cut ten 1"x10"
strips out of it. Set aside while you prepare the filling.

Filling

4 c chopped rhubarb
4 c quartered strawberries
3/8 c sugar
1/4 c + 1 Tbls flour
1/2 tsp salt

To make the filling, combine all ingredients in a large bowl, tossing well to coat. Pour into prepared crust. Top with strips of pie crust, arranging in a lattice pattern. Fold overhang over the lattice and crimp. Place pie in freezer.

Finishing

1 egg, beaten
Sanding sugar

Heat your oven to 450F. When it has come to temperature, remove the pie from the freezer. Brush all exposed crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle liberally with sanding sugar. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F, remove the foil and bake 40-60 minutes longer or until the pastry is well-browned and the filling is bubbling.

28 comments:

  1. Your photos are stunning - what a lovely post! I just tried the strawberry/rhubarb combo for the first time last minute and it's a great one :)

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  2. LOVE strawberry rhubarb pie. Great memories included in this post too - lovely.

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  3. beautiful post....and this pie....
    oh my....amazing!
    :)

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  4. I've been looking for the perfect pie crust recipe and judging from yours, this looks to be it! Thx for sharing it :)

    Btw I am utterly mesmerised by that scarlet filling. Absolutely gorgeous post and gorgeous pie.

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  5. Is it your grandmother that you're speaking of? I felt like I was right there with you in your telling of the story. Beautifully said. And, as always, your pictures and recipe are fabulous! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  6. Your post just warmed my heart. Your grandmother would be incredibly proud of you and the pie looks delicious!

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  7. What a yummy looking pie! A beautiful post as well :)

    http://www.loveandbistros.com

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  8. This looks ridiculously fantastic! So summery! I can't wait to try this!

    xxMK
    Delightful Bitefuls

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  9. Hi! I'm a new follower of your blog! This may be confusing but my manager (here is Seattle) is friend's with your boyfriend's dad. They used to work together in Michigan before she moved out to Seattle. She was telling me about your blog and sent me the link and your Martha segment was wonderful!! Your food looks so good and I can't wait to try it out!

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  10. Unfortunately, I tried making strawberry rhubarb crumble a few weeks ago, and discovered that I don't like the rhubarb part :( I was so excited, too, since the everything was in season and beautiful. But pretty pictures, as usual, and thanks for the memory!

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  11. This looks delicious - and what a lovely heartfelt story. Thanks for sharing this with us!!

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  12. I like how you shared this - really nicely written and I can't wait to make the pie although I will probably be harvesting my rhubarb from Whole Foods.

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  13. you have to be talking about your grandmother...I learned to cook watching mine and now that I am a grandmother myself I teach my Grandaughter Ruby the same way she helps and stirs and watches and absorbs...I think there is no greater love than between grandmothers and grandchildren...
    Thanks for the post
    ps I made rhubarb bread pudding a few weeks ago yummmmy and I am not a big fan of bread pudding but It was lovely..

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  14. It looks delicious :)
    and the picture looks good too
    makes me want to eat a piece of pie now
    Wonderful job

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  15. Once again, you've managed to draw me in with your beautiful picture, the pie looks amazing BUT then the next surprise which is even better is the piece you've written - it's beautiful. I will always remember this myself.

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  16. I love rhubarb and your recipe looks great. I enjoyed reading the story about your grandma as well. Wow-What a talented baker you are and what a great blog you've created.

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  17. Your pictures are amazing! You should be a food photographer. And I must say, I still buy Reese's Puffs. Nothing beats them.

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  18. Gorgeous pie, and a lovely post about your grandmother. I loved visiting mine and helping her in the kitchen. The ruby red filling of your pie looks fantastic, and I have lots of rhubarb here...

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  19. Beautiful :) I tried making a lattice top for a pumpkin pie once and failed miserably :P do you have any tips?

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  20. What camera do you use for those close-ups? I can almost taste your recipes! So glad to get the rhubarb one since my plant is just about ready. I can't wait to try it. Inspirational!!!

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  21. Oooh this looks so good and bright and pretty. I think I need rhubarb in my life and in a pie this week.

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  22. Wow your post certainly made me teary. I have an overwhelming amount of love for my Grandma and you just made me think of her. I miss her so much. What a gorgeous dessert. Your Grandma would be so proud of you. It looks amazing.

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  23. I really really wish they sold rhubarb in singapore! grr i love rhubarb! One day I will try this recipe for sure hhahah. great post

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  24. Wow... I almost never go for rhubarb, but this pie looks like the best thing I've laid eyes on in weeks! I think your excellent photography could convince me to eat a shoe.

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  25. oooh where did you get that pie plate/stand?! it's beautiful!

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  26. Beautiful post, beautiful pie! I'm so impressed that you make pies so easily. I'm a good cook but have been struggle to re-create my mom's pies since she died and can't get the crust right. Maybe your grandma & my mom are swapping recipes right now.

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  27. Love your blog! Your baking is incredible...I am inspired and also intimidated by your creations! Thanks for sharing them.

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  28. Love your stories intermingled with food... it's almost like you're enjoying your food with us as you tell us your stories.

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Thanks so much for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts!

If you have any questions, please feel free to email them to me at kaitlin@whisk-kid.com.

Have a great day!