Strawberry Rhubarb Pie {Recipe Redux}

IMG_5631

My first year in college, after a long winter of heavy snow and hibernation in semi-remote Eastern Oregon, I trekked home for my first annual Easter weekend visit. I brought my roommate, Christine, and my mom made Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie. After months of food hall meals, it was the best pie I had tasted.

IMG_5605

Every pie since has been held to the standard of that memory of tart, sweet, vibrant spring-ness. Nothing compares to the picture in my mind of being home, surrounded by family and a friend, and slowly savoring each bite.

IMG_5586

When asked about her strawberry rhubarb pies, and any others for that matter, my mom answers exactly as I would expect and as I expect my grandma would also have answered: “I don’t ever follow the recipe, I just add ingredients until the pan is full and add sugar as needed.” While I concede her reasoning, I’m slightly more type A, and I foolishly think that if only I had that recipe, I could better relive the memory.

IMG_5590

Though I was left to my own devices as to the amounts and types of ingredients, my tiny apartment kitchen happens to have a couple pie-baking essentials thanks to my mom and grandma. Like a good luck charm, I always use this pie dish, which mom had the forsight to know I was going to need waaay back when I was in high school. Grandma Neah’s old copy of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook is also a regular kitchen fixture for pie making inspiration, though I’m a bit too much like these ladies to actually follow the recipes. Even so, I’m glad Neah made sure I received it before she passed. With these feel-good implements to boost my confidence in measuring up to that pie, I began.

IMG_5560

This year, a full eight years after that first annual Easter weekend trek, I made it home again. Though this pie was decidedly missing from our Sunday table, strawberries were bought and ate, and like firewood, mom loaded me up with a couple armfuls of rhubarb for the road.

IMG_5618

The important thing and what I keep holding on to in this sort of strawberry rhubarb tradition, is that family was gathered around, more family than before, and we lived a spring day to rival my memory.

IMG_5615

 
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Streusal Topping
 
Pastry, adapted from Gluten-Free and Vegan Pie
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup arrowroot starch
2/3 cup potato starch
1 1/2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup + 2 Tbs. refined coconut oil
2 Tbs. water
1 tsp. vanilla 
3/4 cup oats
2 Tbs. honey
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
 
Filling
4 cups rhubarb, chopped
2 cups strawberries, chopped
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup brown rice flour
2 Tbs. tapioca flour
1 Tbs. lemon juice
dash of ground ginger
 
To make the crust, measure flours, sugar, and salt into a food processor. Pulse a couple times until they are mixed. Measure in coconut oil and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Then add in water and vanilla until the mixture just comes together. Turn out onto a piece of parchment paper and split the dough into a larger piece (about 2/3 of dough), and a smaller piece.  
 
Roll out the larger piece and fit it into the bottom of a pie pan. If it falls apart in the process, gently piece it back together and flute the edges. Using the tines of a fork, make several stabs into the crust, and then put it into the freezer for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, put the remaining 1/3 crust back into the food processor, along with the honey, oats, cinnamon and ginger. Pulse until they come together and set aside for the streusal topping.
 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To make the filling, stir together the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, honey, flours, lemon juice and ginger. Once the bottom crust has chilled, turn the filling into the pan. Evenly spread the streusal topping over the filling and bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling properly. During the bake time, you may need to cover the pie with foil, to prevent excessive browing.
 
If the filling seems a little liquidy at this point, don’t worry.  It will set up nicely once it cools!
 
 

Hearty Winter Curry Pie

Some days I just love a good curry.  They are usually days when I could use a little comfort.  The soothing flavors of coconut, cream, curry spice, and ginger just make me want to fill up, then sit back with a nice cup of tea, warm slippers, and a good book.

For all intensive purposes, curry should not spark this reaction.  First off, I can hardly call this a comfort food when we were only introduced in the last couple of years!  Comfort foods require fond childhood memories, I should think.  But perhaps I am wrong and they only need warm memories of moments past.  Which this dish certainly has.

I tried a similar curry pie at an Irish pub a few months back that invoked fond memories of my months in the Eire–summer months that were cool enough to invoke a heavily-spiced dish such as curry.  Add to that the fact that I was eating at that particular pub on the cool Oregon coast–when you are as likely to chance an outstandingly lovely day in February as you are in July.

For months I’ve been meaning to recreate the curry pie I had there and seemingly never could get around to it.  With all this cool, gray, rainy weather we’ve finally been getting in the Pacific Northwest lately, the time has come for a comforting dish that warms the inside with good spices and winter veg, and brings fond memories of both a lovely summer in Ireland, and warm beaches on the coast!

Hearty Winter Curry Pie, serves 2-3
drizzle of olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 large brown mushrooms, chopped
1 cup cooked kidney beans
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 cup light coconut milk
2 tbs. heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
2 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
small handful raisins
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and brown for a couple of minutes.
  • Add carrots, parsnips, bell pepper, celery, and mushrooms.  Cook for 8-10 minutes until golden brown and carrots begin to soften.  Stir in beans and frozen peas.
  • Add coconut milk, cream, lemon juice and spices.  Modify spices to taste by adding more ginger or cayenne, if necessary.  Stir in raisins and cook for 2 minutes more, until they begin to plump.
  • Spoon mixture into a small 2-quart casserole and lay puff pastry over the top.  Cut pastry and crimp to fit pan.  Dash steam vents in top of pastry.
  • Bake at 400 degrees F for approximately 25-30 minutes and enjoy!

Adventures in the Cherry Tree

It all began in Corvallis with our cherry tree. It’s the one that drips it’s cherry-laden limbs onto the sidewalk and begs passers-by to guiltily grab a few before they hurry on, hoping no one is looking.

Their inconspicuousness is touching given the evidence left behind.  Cherry pits. Not that I would care if they show up with their ladders and pick a bucket or ten.  Our tree is laden.

My first task as a college graduate is to pick cherries.  On a Sunday in a dress, with a very short ladder.  All the best cherries are of course higher than I can reach.  Unless I stand on the very top rung on tiptoes, carefully balancing myself so I can squirm higher to reach and not come toppling off the ladder.  Doing so would successfully entertain the neighbors.  Despite this, I for once maintain some dignity and forego the tree toppling episode.

At home in Hermiston, my father is also picking cherries.  His are being picked out of his fervent desire for a cherry pie.  The birds have other plans however, and unless the tree is picked now, there will be none left to satisfy a certain sweet tooth.  So they are picked slightly green because it is either him or the birds, and no one comes between Walter and pie.

first pics 114

A week and a half later, the pie has still not been made.  The Corvallis cherries are nearly eaten, and dad is starting to hint more frequently.  I leave him a note on Father’s Day that he will indeed be receiving a pie shortly.

The notion of pitting all these lovely beasts takes a bit of working up to.  The cherry pitter you see, has been well used over the years and is on the verge of rusting over.  What with this and the fact that most of the remaining cherries are the not-quite-ripe-but-saved-from-the-birds variety, well you see my lack of enthusiasm.

Finally the day arrives when the crust has been mixed and chilled and there is nothing left to do but pit the cherries.  So I press on, and really it’s not so bad.  As the pie crisps in the oven and lovely smells start to fill the farmhouse, dad walks in the door after a long day of work. He knows exactly what this particular smell is.

It’s his cherry pie at last.

Recipes here and here.

For those that have had trouble with crusts, I will let you in on a little secret: Martha Stewart.  I make sure the ingredients are quite cold, use a mixer or food processor, and real butter.  I have never had a bad crust.  I swear :)