Food, Musing

birthday pie – a simple creamy rhubarb pie

I’m not sure who first taught my dad how to make apple pie. Maybe it was his mother. Maybe he taught himself. I’ve never asked. Growing up, he was the Pie Dad. The superhero dad that knew how to make the perfect pie. It was my first instance of gender role awareness and I remember thinking it cool as a kid that my dad was the Pie Expert. He always made his own crust, thick and buttery, which would sit in the fridge overnight to be rolled out the next day by an oily, old-yet-reliable rolling pin. Even when I came home from college, I’d keep an eye out in the fridge for a fist-shape lump of dough that meant a pie might be in the works.

We had a cool apple peeler, too, the kind that peels, slices, and cores the apples at the same time. I’d sneak apples, always, once they were coated with sugar & lemon. My dad makes his pies tart and minimal – you can really taste the fruit, and the layers of dough always flake and fold so organically. I’ve since then watched and learned from other Pie Masters – one being my friend Gwen, whose pear ginger pie is one I will never forget.

This past weekend I got to visit a friend’s farm on the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota. When we arrived, I was struck by how quiet it was. I took a tour of the garden and knew I was about to have a wonderful day. Raspberry patches, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, kale, peppers, basil…the plants went on and on. They were carefully tended, and we spent a couple of hours working among the bees to pick raspberries, crawling on the ground to find the cherry tomatoes, and feeling around in the dirt for red potatoes. When dinner rolled around it was an amazing experience to eat things that had been still growing just two hours prior. An explosion of things were made: pesto, butter potatoes, rhubarb chutney, raspberry jam, massaged kale salad. I wanted to stay in that beautiful kitchen forever, with its marble countertops, jar-filled fridge, garden windows.

Finally, I learned how to make this pie. It is a pie that I was able to try for my birthday two months prior. It’s a pie that mixes the creaminess of cooked rhubarb with the tartness of raspberries – raspberry rhubarb is far more complex than strawberry rhubarb, in my opinion. It’s not as hard to make as an apple pie, but it’s a I’ve been working all day and want to taste something fresh pie. Coincidentally, it’s my Dad’s birthday today. I wish I lived closer. I would have liked to make him a pie.

Raspberry Rhubarb Pie

3 cups rhubarb, diced small

2 cups raspberries

1 1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

pinch of salt

dash of vanilla

3 eggs

Store-bought pie crust

Preheat oven to 450 and line a pie pan with dough, either from a pre-made crust or home-made recipe. Combine the raspberries and rhubarb in a bowl and smash together using a fork or potato masher. In a different bowl, combine flour, sugar, & salt. In a third bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla until the eggs are blended and a bit frothy. Combine the eggs and sugar mixture, stirring well, and finally, add the fruit. Make sure there are no lumps, and pour the mixture into the pie pan. Bake for 15 minutes at 450, then reduce heat to 350 and bake until the pie is set in the middle, about 30-45 minutes. It may be slightly jiggly, but it will come together when cool.

(Note: The pie pictured is Gwen’s version of a rhubarb pie. She chose to do some nice lattice work!)

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