Monday, June 6, 2011

Rhubard (the Pie Plant)

My Gardner Guy has left Rhubarb on my kitchen table...

This is what the stalks look like before cutting off the leaves...

See how big the rhubarb plant is this year!!!

For year's my husbands parents gardened; as they got older failing health took Margaret my Gardner Guy's mother; then the lot was turned over to us. Both of us came from families that had gardens so it's not a surprise that we have developed a huge interest as well as an inquisitive curiosity for all the things we can grow. Before us Margaret grew rhubarb. I am not sure how old this plant is but it blooms back every year, it gets bigger every year. I stock my freezer with strawberry rhubarb pies; enough to last through the Holidays. I believe we went through 12 pies last year. Margaret may not be with us, but each time we partake of this vegetable that is more used like a fruit I think of her. Thank you Margaret!!!

Did You Know?
Rhubarb, a relative of buckwheat, grows wild in China and Tibet, where it's been used to make medicines for centuries. It first appeared in North America in the late 1700s, introduced by a Maine gardener who obtained seed or rootstock from Europe. Within a mere 25 years, it was so popular with customers that it had become a regular offering at produce markets. Supermarkets generally sell only the deep-red stems, but gardeners grow hybrids with green or pink stalks as well. Although it's botanically a vegetable, rhubarb is used in recipes the way you would a fruit. In fact, its nickname is "pie plant."

I will make pies again this year, this week in fact, as well a my rhubarb sauce. This sauce is so delicious warmed up and served as a topping over vanilla ice cream. I also use it in my canned applesauce. I do not add any additional sugar to my applesauce as it usually does not need it. We have a winesap apple tree and they themselves are pretty sweet. When you pair the two, a little rhubarb sauce with my applesauce I call it My Gardner Guys gourmet apple delite. It is as good as apple pie and I make a super apple pie.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
1 1/3 cup of sugar
2 TBS butter
2 cups of strawberries
2 1/2 cups of rhubarb
1/3 cup of flour

Heat oven 425
Mix sugar and flour, stir in rhubarb and strawberries. Stir until the sugars become slightly wet and clings to the fruit. Turn into a pastry lined pie plate, dot wit butter, apply top crust, flute or seal the edges... Cover the top of the pie with a sheet of foil, this protects the edges from becoming to brown while baking. Bake for 30 minutes, un-cover and bake for 10 more minutes.

Pie Crust
2 cups of flour
1 tsp of salt
1 cup of shortening
1/4 cup of water

Important to follow these steps...
Measure 1 2/3 cups of flour, add 1 tsp of salt. Mix flour and salt and then cut in using pastry cutter 1 cup of shortening until the mixture is in small crumbs. In a small bowl mix the other 1/3 cup of flour with 1/4 cup of water until well blended and is paste like. Mix the paste into the shortening/flour mixture until it forms into a loose ball. Divide in half and roll out. This recipe is perfect for a 9 inch pie.

This pie freezes well (do not thaw before baking)...when you want to bake it add 30 minutes to the original baking time. If you are using glass pie pans put pie in oven while the oven preheats and add 35 minutes to the original baking time. Never put a cold frozen pie dish in a hot oven!!!
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