Earlier this week, I had a friend that was going to be driving through our neck of the woods. She was traveling with her daughter-in-law and 3 grandkids. I hadn’t seen her in over 15 years and I was excited about getting the chance to have a short visit with her. She also was looking forward to seeing me and my family again, and she also said she would like to taste one of my pies. She wasn’t particular about what flavor of pie, and since she was traveling with kids, I thought maybe an ice cream pie would be the perfect pie to make. I also was a bit pressed for time and thought it would be easy to make. I also wouldn’t have to heat up the oven on a hot July evening. I found a recipe and picked up all of the ingredients at the grocery store…so easy….pre-made pie shell, a jar of fudge sauce, and a a 1/2 gallon of ice cream. SO EASY. Once I got home, I was able to put the pie together in just a couple of minutes. I found a nice spot in the freezer for it, and I was all set for the following day.
Then it dawned on me…we were going to meet in a park, at an approximate time…on a hot day in July…and I mean hot….the weather service had posted a heat warning until 7:00 for that evening, and the heat index was expected to be 105 degrees. My pie was made of ice cream…there were going to be 9 of us (can I even cut a pie into 9 pieces?), I was imagining one big sloppy mess. What was I going to do? I slept on it.
The following morning it dawned on me. I had a big supply of plastic, pie-shaped carrying containers. I could slice up the pie before work and then put them in an insulated cooler to take to the park. I wouldn’t need to worry about cutting a melting pie at the park, and wouldn’t even need to bring plates. Some plastic forks would be all that we would need and everything could go in the trash can when we were done. It worked. My friend showed up with her family at the appointed time, we passed out the pies in their containers….and even had an extra container left over (somehow I ended up with 10 pieces)! We all enjoyed the ice cream pie before it had a chance to melt.
Just as in life, sometimes we are handed a situation that looks daunting. We don’t realize what we have gotten ourselves into and we aren’t sure what to do. Sometimes sleeping over the problem, will result in an answer the following morning. And sometimes the best answer to those BIG problems, is to divide it into manageable pieces.
5 cups diced rhubarb
1-2/3 cups white sugar
1-1/4 tsp dry orange peel
1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon and 3/4 teaspoon butter
Pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Combine sugar, orange peel, and flour. Sprinkle ½ cup of it over pastry in deep pie plate. Toss remaining mixture with diced rhubarb and place in pie pan. Dot with small pieces of butter. Cover with top crust.Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with additional sugar.
Place pie on lowest rack in oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking for 40 to 45 minutes. Serve cold, with whipped cream.
This post is about the second lesson I learned after making a rhubarb pie, the one that nearly caught on fire!
I mentioned that my wife and I had picked the rhubarb together, and we had actually picked the rhubarb from our neighbor’s rhubarb patch. They were away on vacation and were arriving back home in a couple of hours. We knew we only wanted to make 1 trip so we didn’t have to go back for more and end up getting caught stealing the rhubarb. Once the rhubarb was washed and diced, I found that I had 5 cups of rhubarb. The recipe only called for 4 cups. I figured it would be best to use all of the rhubarb in the pie so decided I would use a deep-dish pie pan and make a larger pie. Of course, that meant increasing the other ingredients proportionately. When baking anything, it is always important to follow the recipe as written and if you have to make a change, you have to consider what effect that will have on the final product. With rhubarb pie, the juices have to thicken properly to have a good pie….adding more rhubarb would add more water to the recipe and it would likely not thicken correctly. The recipe that I was using, was from a web-site, so it was real easy to change the number of servings from 8 servings to 10 servings (with a little math, an 8 serving recipe using 4 cups of rhubarb, would equal a 1/2 cup of rhubarb for each serving…5 cups, would equal 10 1/2 cup servings). After punching in 10 servings, all of the other measurements also changed….proportionaltly, and in the end, the pie turned out perfectly!
Just as in life, proportions are important. Any decision you make….likely because you were forced into making a decision because of an unexpected change that happened, has to be weighed with what impact that will make on other related factors. Decisions such as splurging on something you want, will have an impact on how you can afford the things you actually need. Decisions on indulging on a sweet treat, will have an impact on your weight…or your teeth! Spending time with an old friend…might give you less time to clean the house. Life seems to have a balance, and anything…everything…you do, impacts something else. Be watchful of how your decisions have an impact on how you want to live your life….and be sure to do things in proper proportions!
Last week we made rhubarb pie, and I say that “we” made it because my wife helped pick the rhurbarb. I had not been in the mood to make a pie for a long time, and I needed a kick-start to get moving. My wife said she would help, and that was all it took to get me going. The experience taught me 2 lessons…so I will explain them in 2 separate posts.
The pie went together easy. I put it in the oven following the instructions to start with a high temperature for 15 minutes and then reduce the temp for the remaining backing time. As in previous posts, I mentioned that need to let it bubble over…and to even give it an extra 5 minutes to make sure it is done…and with rhubarb pie, it is particularly important to fully back it. I was at that point, where it could probably use another 5 to 10 minutes when I heard a noise from the oven. I looked in and saw that the bubbling ooze on the bottom of the oven had caught fire. When I opened the door, the flames got larger. I closed the door and the smoke detector started ringing and there was quite a bit of smoke in the oven. I wasn’t sure what to do, because I didn’t have a fire extinguisher nearby. I hollered at the family to come to the kitchen to make sure I got the fire put out. I decided to get some salt and through that on the fire, and the flames went out. I turned on the fans and got the smoke out of the kitchen and got the alarm turned off. Wow…a little bit too much excitement, but the pie was safe and it was time to get it out of the oven!
Just as with life, sometimes we think we know what we are doing and get a bit complacent. We think things are fine…or think things are so perfect that nothing will change. Well, sometimes things change…and sometimes for the unexpected. And sometimes it takes an alarm to sound to wake us up to the fact that something needs our immedate attention. And when our attention is needed, we have to be prepared to respond, we need our own bucket of tools…or our container of salt, to deal with the issue at hand. Be ready…be available…pay attention to what is going on in your life. Try not to let things get out of hand before they turn into ‘big fires,’ and if they should turn into big fires, have the skills, and the tools to respond.
Prepare pie pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
2 cups sliced strawberries
3 cups rhubarb (1/2 inch dice)
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons orange liqueur or orange juice
2 teaspoons orange zest
3 Tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon each, nutmeg and ginger
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 400F.
Line 9 inch pie pan with pastry, reserving sufficient dough for the top crust.
In a large bowl, toss the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, orange liqueur or orange juice, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Spoon into pie shell.Dot with butter.
Place top crust on and seal and crimp edges. Brush top with beaten egg and sprinkle lightly with coarse sugar.
Place in oven and bake until pie is oozing and top crust is a golden color 45-60 minutes. Bake 5 more minutes if needed!
Let pie cool well before serving.
A few weeks ago, my mom was here visiting us. It was the time of the year when the local strawberries and rhubarb were just past their peak. It was also getting harder and harder to find strawberries for sale. Everyone was asking me to bake a strawberry-rhubarb pie, but I just couldn’t get motivated to bake. I decided to take a vacation day one day and my mom and I went out to run some errands. We passed a local produce stand where we had seen a sign for strawberries so we turned the car around to buy some strawberries. When we got home we picked some rhubarb from our neighbor’s garden and we set to town slicing and dicing the ingredients, and mixing a double-crust pastry. It wasn’t too long before we had the pie in the oven, and amazingly it seemed like it didn’t take any effort to get that pie made. After the pie was in the oven for almost an hour, I checked to see if the pie was done. I like the pie to bubble over, as I have mentioned in an earlier post. The pie juices were dripping pretty good and although the filling didn’t look thick, I took the pie out of the oven and figured by the time it cooled, the filling would be properly thickened. We were anxious to cut into the pie, but I knew that it had to cool for awhile so it would hold together. We gave the pie another 45 minutes or so to cool and finally couldn’t wait any longer to taste the pie. We cut into the pie, and it didn’t hold together. I was soooo disappointed. If I had only given the pie another 5 minutes to bake, I could have had much better results. I was mad at myself for trying to hurry, especially after I had waited so long to finally bake the pie that everyone was wanting. Everyone said the pie tasted fine, but I knew it wasn’t my best work and it wasn’t the pie that I wanted my mom to remember when she went back to tell her friends about the pie that we had made.
Just as in life, sometimes we are anxious, and waiting an extra 5 minutes can make all the difference in the world. There are times when we hurry and don’t do as good a job on something we are working on and the quality of our results is diminished. I think of the times I wrote college papers, or worked on resume’s, or worked on a business letter, or a performance review at work, and I got impatient, or bored, or in a hurry. The results didn’t reflect the high standards that I set for myself. Don’t hurry. Don’t rush. Don’t be impatient. Take the time that is needed to do things the right way.