Like most things, you can take the girl away from the farm, but you can’t take the farm from the girl (or some such thing). Growing up on a big farm, there are so many things that are part of my “hard wiring” that sometimes I have to think for a bit as to why I automatically do “x” versus “y”. Pie is one of them.
Just south of Wilbur, Washington is the farm I grew up on. We were real farmers which means my dad was no agri-businessman nor was he a “hobby farmer”. Nope. It was a living, breathing farm with all the poop and bugs that go along with all those cows, chickens, pigs, sheep, and horses. But there was also a big garden. With an asparagus forest I used to hide in as a little girl. And a rhubarb patch the size of Texas. Or at least a rhubarb bed shaded by a Russian olive tree big enough for a little girl to dream of taking a road out of Wilbur and into someplace bigger and different.
I’m not saying growing up on a farm was a bad thing. Because it wasn’t. It just was often a hard thing. Because farming doesn’t stop for Saturday morning cartoons or vacations. All those crops and critters need attention and all the time. And since there wasn’t an army of helpers scurrying about accomplishing all the tasks related to poop and bugs and all those dang critters, I learned at an early age how to do many things. Like make a pie crust as well as bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy.
Spring heralds the beginning of the rhubarb season in my childhood memories as well as my dessert table on occasion. This predilection causes my strawberry-rhubarb pie loving husband to be in pig-heaven every once in a while. But growing up, we didn’t eat strawberry-rhubarb pie and we didn’t can vats of stewed rhubarb. Because we made and ate tons of Rhubarb Pineapple pie. And if you make and eat tons of Rhubarb Pineapple pie, chances are, you might want go hang out in the rhubarb patch dreaming of what the bright lights of New York City look like while waiting for the baby stalks to get big enough to make another pie. (For the record, the lights of New York City are pretty much like London’s or Paris’ or even Seattle’s. Bright. And there will be times when even the most bright-lights-big-city-nights loving farm girl needs to play in the dirt. Hence, I have 3 garden beds in my city back yard.)
So if your springtime bounty includes some rhubarb, or if you are in the mood to be tempted, here’s a little slice of my childhood fresh from my kitchen to yours. Enjoy!
ps. this is NOT the recipe I made for the first time when I was six. That recipe was lost along with every other blooming thing when my parents’ suffered a house fire. No one was permanently hurt, but the need for lost “things” will be permanently with our family every time we go to decorate the Christmas tree or make a pie.
Rhubarb Pineapple Pie
1 10″ double pastry recipe (There are lots of great recipes out there – just don’t over work your dough & they are all good. Even store-bought pie crust turns out just fine.)
3 cups rhubarb, cut into 1″ dice
1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained (you don’t have to drain it dry, just drain off excessive juice)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix eggs, sugar, flour and salt until smooth. Add pineapple and rhubarb. Pour into prepared pie pan. Cover with remaining pastry dough. Cut steam vents in top crust, brush with milk (or cream) and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce oven to 325 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes. If the edges brown too quickly, cover with foil.
NOTE: I am a “pantser” when it comes to baking, so this is a close approximation to what I did the other day for the delish pie I made to celebrate my dear sister’s fabulous spring. For example, I drain the pineapple, but I can’t give you an exact amount of fluid you need to drain off – just until it stops running off and is more of a drip now and then. And I like to err on the side of more rhubarb than less. In fact, I usually use more like 4 or 5 cups. But I don’t really measure them. I just use as many stalks as I have. Also, I add an additional egg if the batter looks thin. It should have a molasses consistency versus maple syrup consistency. Oh, and I always put a cookie sheet on the rack below to catch any spill overs. Love me, love my wacky way of making pie.
Serve it just warm so it has a lovely aroma and is set. Or for breakfast with coffee, which is my dad’s favorite way.