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Harvest Creations: Early Strawberries and Heritage Rhubarb Pie — straight from the Thrasher Studio’s Urban Farm

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Heritage-V Rhubarb

Finally after creating the page where I can brag a little about what I have going on at the Thrasher Studio’s Urban Farm:  Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie.  But not just your average variety of that, oh no. We have early strawberries — the ones that are just so sweet because you forgot all winter how delicious strawberries are.

These early strawberries I actually got from another local farm because I was in the middle of still transplanting my strawberries into the repurposed pedestal sinks from Seattle’s Smith Tower. I now have a fabulous “strawberry tower” garden going on. More on that likely in another post.  We also have Heritage Rhubarb Pie.

I’m calling it heritage because I got the rhubarb start last year when my former neighbors were moving. They had lived on their property and in what their grown children consider the family home for more than 35 years. My neighbor had planted the rhubarb the first year they were in the home. So, I have named the Rhubarb “Heritage-V” after their kind souls. I do wish they still lived next door to us. I would have liked to share a slice of the pie I ended up baking with their gift to me as they departed our rural neighborhood.

Harvesting the Rhubarb is ridiculously easy. And I love how the four-legged critters and six-legged pests stay away from the Rhubarb because its leaves are poisonous. So, I chop up the unused Rhubarb leaves and use them as compost right back on the plant itself.  So here in the Pacific Northwest — living in the Cascade Foothills, very close to the wilderness, this is a great urban farm plant.

First 2012 Harvest of Heritage-V Rhubarb

Below is the recipe I use. I’m not including the dough recipe, because I know everyone has their favorite. You could even purchase the refrigerated dough if you like….  My mom gave me this recipe years ago when she and my father were living in their mid-life urban farm. This would be the first time I’ve actually used the recipe. It was a smashing success.

Here’s the recipe:

Filing:

1 1/2 pounds of rhubarb, cut into 3/4-inch-long pieces (about 5 to 6 cups) (note:  I tend to stay closer to about 4 1/2 cups because I like a less tart pie).

2 to 2 1/2 cups sliced strawberries

Main ingredients.

1 1/2 cups  sugar (I prefer to use brown or organic cane, but you may use refined white if that’s all you have)

1/4 cup cornstarch

Real Orange Zest & Juice is What I use

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest, plus 1 tablespoon orange juice

Coarse salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 large egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash, optional

Sugar for sprinkling, optional

MY SECRET INGREDIENT:  (Which is obviously not secret any more).  Unlike Mom’s recipe I add my own Thrasher-attitude ingredient and include a generous shot of Mischief Whiskey (or your favorite bourbon or rum would be good, too).

To make filling:  Mix together rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, orange zest and juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Roll out one dough disk so it’s 1/8-inch thick and will fit into a nine-inch pie plate. Place the dough in the pan, pour in the filling; dot top with butter.  Refrigerate while making top crust.

If you ever go to a Tupperware party, snag one of these suckers. They make juicing an orange so very easy.

(Now Mom’s recipe calls for making a weave top crust, which I didn’t do; I just put a full piece of crust on top like you would for any fruit pie — apple, cherry, peach, etc. — but I may do the lattice pattern next time to allow steam and some of the juice of the pie to evaporate. I’m including the directions for the checkerboard-crust pattern.)

The secret ingredient that makes this pie recipe my own.

Roll remaining disk to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut into at least 10-inch-wide strips using a fluted pastry cutter.

Lay five strips across pie. Fold back every other strip, and lay a horizontal strip across the center of the pie. Unfold folded strips, then fold back remaining strips. Lay another horizontal strip across the pie. Repeat folding and unfolding strips to weave a lattice pattern. Repeat on remaining side.

Trim bottom and top crusts to a 1-inch overhang using kitchen shears and press together to seal edges (be sure it’s a tight seal). Fold edges under, and crimp as desired. Refrigerate for 15 minutes (this is very important step).

Refrigerate the pie twice before baking.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the pie from the refrigerator. Brush crust with egg wash, if desired, and sprinkle generously with sugar (I didn’t do this step). Place a foil-lined baking sheet on the bottom rack to catch juices, (I highly recommend this! Even if you have a self-cleaning oven) and bake pie on middle rack for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and continue baking until filling is vigorously bubbling in center and bottom crust is golden , about one hour. Tent loosely with foil after one hour if crust is browning too quickly.) Transfer pie to a wire rack, and let cool for at least two hours before serving.

I really would like to learn how to grow coffee on my urban farm, because coffee tastes so, so good with this pie. However that might be a project for next year.

For now I’m searching for other recipes for rhubarb, as this Heritage-V rhubarb plant is ready for another harvest and I’ll likely get one or two more before the season ends. So if you have a favorite rhubarb recipe, please leave it in the comments. Maybe I’ll even feature it here on another post.

Until then — go get your hands dirty and grow some food.

E.S.H.V.R. Pie. So Yummy I want another right now!

 

 

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