When I count the many blessings in my life, my mom is right up at the top. I could never, ever find a way to thank her for everything she has done for me. Words and gestures simply could never be enough and I can’t afford the farm in the Swiss Alps I think she’d really love.
We spent this past weekend in Las Vegas. You see, among the many, many lessons my mom taught me was how to have just the right amount of fun. This was no easy task. I was a serious kid with a tough streak of perfectionism. I was a know-it-all who had a tough time understanding and exhibiting patience. But, as I learned during one of our many talks over the weekend, my mom recognized this early on and actually took it upon herself to seek out information on how to be encourage my love of learning, nurture my self-esteem, and surround me with opportunities to explore, even if my impressionable young disposition wasn’t always the rosiest. Many, many years later, I’ve learned to lighten up, trust in others, and find happiness in leading other children much like me.
So how did my amazing mom do all of that? The short answer is I have no idea. But what I do know is many of our best talks and fondest memories happened in the kitchen. I’ve always loved to cook with my mom. In fact, some of my first memories are making Christmas cookies for the church Christmas pageant with some classic Barbara Mandrell “Christmas at Our House” playing in the background. My job was always to roll the cookies in powdered sugar.
Over the last several months, I haven’t cooked nearly as much as I used to. It wasn’t intentional. Between my new job, which has very different hours than I’ve had in my past ten years as a teacher, lots of travel, and a new and wonderful relationship, my routine has changed quite a bit. But now that I’ve got my head above water with my job, I’ve come to realize that cooking isn’t just a way to put food on the table. To me, it’s so much more. It’s one of my favorite ways to relax and it’s an integral part of who I am. I feel more settled, more grounded, and more complete when I’m in the kitchen. I guess I have my mom to thank for that, too.
Sweet, tart rhubarb is the star of this seasonal and nostalgic family favorite. With my tried and true ultra-buttery, ultra-flaky perfect pie crust and a scoop of farm-style vanilla ice cream, it’s sure to become a favorite with your family, too.
Mom’s Rhubarb Pie
family recipe, courtesy of my sweet momma
4 c. rhubarb, cut into 3/4 in. slices
1 2/3 c. sugar (vanilla sugar, if possible)
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly-grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. salt
1 recipe perfect pie crust
2 TBSP cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 in. pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten (optional)
1 TBSP Turbinado or demerara sugar (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400° F. If you have a pizza stone, place it on the middle rack. (This is my mom’s trick to get a nice, crisp bottom crust on a pie.)
2. Trim the leaves and the ends of both ends of each stalk of rhubarb. Cut into 3/4 in. pieces and pt into a medium bowl. Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl. Pour over rhubarb and toss to combine. Let sit 15 minutes to bring out the rhubarb’s juices.
3. Meanwhile, roll out both crusts. Roll the bottom crust halfway on the rolling pin and place into the bottom of a deep pie dish.
4. Pour the rhubarb into the bottom crust and dot with butter pieces. Roll the top crust on the rolling pin and place on top of the pie. Trim the excess crust, then crimp the edges to seal. Alternately, use the excess crust to cut shapes with mini cutters or make braids to decorate the edges of the pie. Brsh the top with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Make slits in the top crust.
5. Place the pie dish on a baking sheet, then place the baking sheet directly on the pizza stone. Bake for 50 minutes, rotating halfway through and covering edges with foil if browning too quickly.
6. Let stand at least one hour before serving. Cut into eight slices and serve warm or at room temperature. Best with a generous scoop of Oklahoma farm-style vanilla ice cream.
Yield: 8 servings