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Pie to Die For August 9, 2008

Posted by alwaysjan in Recipes.
Tags: , , , ,

I’ve already specified that when I die, I want my pie crust recipe read aloud at my memorial service. This will assure a standing room crowd, and if that’s what it takes, hey, I can live with that. But I can’t live without pie.

It was my love of pie that got me into trouble in the first place. My mother had baked a cherry pie for my paternal grandfather who was visiting from California with wife #3. While they were at the racetrack (my mother would die if I didn’t mention that she has never placed a bet in her entire life and it was the only time she ever went to the racetrack), I came along and saw the pie cooling on the stove. I ate a big piece. My mother called home and mentioned something about the pie. Hey, I didn’t know it was “for company.”

Panicked, I found my mom’s yellowed recipe for cherry pie. I’d seen her make it a zillion times so how hard could it be? I made the crust from scratch and even stirred the red food coloring into the can of cherries to give them that radioactive red glow, just like I’d seen my mother do. Then I ate what was left of the original pie to hide the evidence. No one was the wiser. On that day, a pie fiend was born. If you give a man a fish, he can eat for a day, but if you teach a man to make pie…you get the idea.

In college, I stopped by to see my friend Cathy and found her chopping some exotic vegetable (or was it a fruit?) that she’d harvested from her garden. She called it rhubarb. I was still under the impression that all fruit came from cans so this was a revelation. I ate my first piece of rhubarb pie and it was love at first bite. I jilted cherry for my new favorite, strawberry-rhubarb, which I believe is proof there is heaven on earth.

I upped my game after my mom sent me a church cookbook titled “My Cup Runneth Over.” It included a sprinkling of scripture and admonitions to add a half jar of marshmallow cream here and a can of mushroom soup there. Somewhere mixed in with all those recipes that called for Jell-o and canned pineapple slices, I found what was to become MY pie crust recipe. Hallelujah!

Over the years, I’ve branched out a bit. I can now make a wicked pecan pie and a variation that involves three kinds of nuts. One year, for Christmas, my husband bought me a Mexican lime tree and I learned to make a Key Lime pie with a kick, even though it has a lowly graham cracker crust. I once happened upon my son Ian standing in the garage just as he was finishing off the last bite of an entire Key Lime pie. Obviously, the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree and when it does, it’s into a waiting crust.

When my sons were growing up, Taylor liked a banana cream pie for his birthday and Ian held out for a frozen mud pie. No cake for us, thank you. Pie is in our DNA.

When we moved to Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula outside Seattle, I was ecstatic when I realized the vacant lot next door was overgrown with blackberry bushes. I gave Taylor and Ian a small red tin pail with instructions to pick enough berries for a pie. How was I to know that blackberry bushes have thorns? When they returned they were covered with scratches and welts, but even worse, they hadn’t collected enough blackberries to make a pie.

I told them to follow me and I’d show them how it was done. The vacant lot hadn’t been graded and the bushes and grass hid this fact. When I leaned over to reach a plump blackberry, I felt my foot slowly sliding down into what seemed to be a bottomless pit. It kept going and going. It was the only time in my life I’ve ever done the splits. And there I sat, unable to get up but unwilling to set down the tin pail holding the precious berries. The boys ran to get their dad who, trying not to laugh, extricated me from this indelicate pose. I then drove to the supermarket and paid $4 for a small box of blackberries and considered it a steal.

So, I make pie to die for, but not literally. Since I haven’t set the date for my memorial service and you probably already have something planned, I thought I’d share MY pie crust recipe with you along with instructions on how to make one incredible strawberry/rhubarb pie. I’ll even throw in the calories for free! Enjoy!

Perfect Pie Crust

Note;  Makes about 4 single crusts/that’s 2 pies if you don’t eat any dough! ( I have cut this recipe in half and given my dogs half the egg to make their coats shiny.)

Ingredients:  3 cups flour, 3/4 tsp. salt, 1 1/2 cups Crisco, 1 egg (beaten), 5 T. COLD water (put ice cubes in a bowl of water), 1 T. vinegar (I prefer apple cider vinegar.

Sift four and salt; cut in Crisco with a fork until fine.  Make a “well” in flour mixture; add rest of ingredients. Stir until well blended.  Form dough into balls.  Roll it out between sheets of floured wax paper.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Ingredients:  2 cups of strawberries, halved, 2 cups of rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (2-3 stalks), 1/3 cup white sugar, 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 1 T. grated/chopped orange rind,

1-2 Tbs. butter, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

In a large bowl, put all ingredients in first paragraph and stir gently until blended.  Turn the fruit into the pie shell.  Dot with the butter then add a lattice top.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Bake the pie at 450 degrees for 10 minutes .  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Best served warm with vanilla ice cream.  This pie tastes just as good the next day.

Photo credit:  Pie in the Sky by Kentee on flickr.


1. ES - August 9, 2008

Yum! We should get together. I’ll make the coffee if you bring the pie.


2. Catherine Sherman - August 10, 2008

I haven’t been able to grow rhubarb since that one pie…..I plant rhubarb in every garden of every house I move to, but it fails to thrive. Maybe I should get rooted myself and make a serious effort to make my rhubarb prosper. Then I’ll lure you back to the Midwest to make us some pie!


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