It’s no secret.
I love pie.
Some people may love the fluffy, creamy varieties of coconut cream or lemon meringue, but for me, it’s the combination of buttery crust and fruit that I find most addictive. I love apple pie in autumn and any kind of berry pie in summer, especially strawberry rhubarb.
Our family had rhubarb in our garden in Wisconsin. I loved how the giant leaves. My brothers and I used to stand under them and pretend they were fans. I loved how tongue-numbingly sour those stalks were when I bit into them, and I loved how the sweetness of strawberries and sugar countered that sour, balanced it perfectly.
Benjamin also remembers rhubarb from his family garden in Colorado, and he loves this summer pie too. Both of us thought that rhubarb grew all summer long. We’ve since learned, however, that here in the Northeast, rhubarb is a short-lived crop that’s picked in late spring. For the past three summers, our timing has been off, and we’ve always missed the harvest. Not this year. We spotted the stalks at the Farmer’s Market and brought our bundle home.
I was determined to bake something. Like I’ve written in earlier posts, my mom always made the most delicious fruit pies with perfect crusts, and no matter how confident I try to be in my baking, I really don’t have the same touch. I have made one successful pie, but this was only because my sweet friend Nicholas was by my side in the kitchen helping me. He and my Mom have the baking gift. I do not.
A gift I do have is thinking of creative ways to use things I already have stocked. I didn’t want to try to make pie crust. I was out of eggs and felt too lazy to go to the store, so a strawberry rhubarb bread was crossed off the list, but I did have an entire box of Trefoils, those buttery shortbread cookies from the Girl Scouts. Ding! There was my idea. I could make something with the fruit and pour it over the cookies like a short cake. Brilliant!
I went online and found this recipe:
I didn’t have a vanilla bean pod handy (who does?), but I knew I could substitute a drop of liquid vanilla, and I had everything else for the roasting. My house smelled so good! Thanks to the Scouts, I didn’t need to make the rye cakes, and when we poured the gingery, citrusy, honeyed fruit over those cookies, it was delicious! It wasn’t pie, but it was close, and I found a use for one of my favorite garden plants. Yay!