“Who wants to take on care of the rhubarb patch?” This question went out a few days ago to the sisterhood from the sister in charge of our vegetable gardens. Before the day was over the question had been answered, the patch had been watered, and the fertilizing process begun.
We love our rhubarb patch. We love to watch it come into fruition producing its rich beautiful leaves and stems. We love to see it harvested and prepared for the many different ways we use it.
For this year’s Easter dinner various sisters volunteered to make a variety of very special desserts. There were several decadent chocolate wonders. There were tortes and trifles piled high with tantalizing toppings. There were brand new gourmet creations anyone of which could have taken a prize, and then there were a number of humble pies. So…which dessert do you think was most requested? You’re absolutely right. It was our old-fashioned, flavorful strawberry rhubarb pie. Unfortunately, some had to go without!
This year, we celebrated the Fourth of July in style. It was the first time in over 10 years that our award winning Spirit of America Band was able to participate in our hometown parade in Orleans, Massachusetts. It was a day marked with patriotism and pride, and one to remember all of our loved ones that have sacrificed so much for the great freedom we have today. Like most families across America, we concluded the day with fireworks and “All American” cookout topped off with these magnificent Stars and Stripes Pies.
I am reminded of a beautiful prayer that Billy Graham offered to this Nation – may we pray it together for the future of America:
“Our Father and Our God, we praise You for Your goodness to our nation, giving us blessings far beyond what we deserve. Yet we know all is not right with America. We deeply need a moral and spiritual renewal to help us meet the many problems we face. Convict us of sin. Help us to turn to You in repentance and faith. Set our feet on the path of Your righteousness and peace. We pray today for our nation’s leaders. Give them the wisdom to know what is right, and the courage to do it. You have said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” May this be a new era for America, as we humble ourselves and acknowledge You alone as our Savior and Lord. This we pray in Your holy name, Amen. “
1. Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix.
2. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball.
3. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Divide the dough in half. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Assembling the Pie:
4. Roll out both pie crusts. Press one into the bottom of the pie pan – leaving an overhang for your crust (you will finish this off at the end). Reserve the second pie crust (keep covered w/ a sheet of plastic)
5. Fold aluminum foil strip into 90 degree angle wedge to fill 1/4 of the pie and place in pie shell
6. Fill the 1/4 area with the uncooked blueberry filling
7. Fill the rest of pie with strawberry rhubarb filling
8. Remove foil
9. Dot fruit filling with about 6-8 small chunks of butter (about ½ Tbsp each)
10. Using the reserved pie crust, take a pizza cutter and a ruler and cut three full length 1" stripes and two half length 1" stripes out of your dough. Use the remaining dough to cut your stars (we used a sharp knife or you can use a cookie cutter). Place the stars and stripes on top of the fruit, as seen in the picture, being sure to press the ends of the stripes into the bottom crust.
11. With your fingers, pinch crust to create a nice ruffled edge.
12. Brush the entire crust with egg wash and a sprinkling of sugar
13. Bake at 325 for about an hour and 15 min. or until crust is golden and fruit is bubbling
Cool slightly and enjoy with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream!
The view from this convent window encompasses the convent orchard, the cutting garden and some of the Community vineyards.
At the end of each row of grapevines stands a robust clump of rhubarb which has just reached its peak… a rich and beautiful sight to behold! Sisters were out picking it this morning and now it is being prepared for the Oblate retreat dinner dessert.
When our “Oblate family” members return for retreats we always try to “welcome them home” with their favorite foods. This golden buttery crusted dessert has been one of their favorites for years, and since their spring retreat is always at this same time each year when rhubarb is at its prime they always look forward to having it.
The vibrant combination of rhubarb, fresh oranges and coconut produces one of those desserts that keeps tempting the eater to have just a little bit more. This is a mouthwatering flavor that makes no apology for being old fashioned – because it’s old fashioned goodness at its very best!
Surprising someone with their favorite food is something I love to do. Yesterday when I came into Bethany I found the Sister in the kitchen doing just that. A guest from 20 years ago had returned to be with us, and the Sister was preparing dinner for him and those who would be eating with him. Remembering that he had loved our strawberry rhubarb pie, she was making one for dessert to go with the meal.
This pie has been a favorite of many when we serve it in the guest house or for retreats and at certain times offer it for sale at our Priory gift shop. We grow both the berries and rhubarb in our gardens which I feel gives the pie extra special flavor. However it’s delicious made with the fruits from any source even if they’re not
Leaving Bethany I went out to the gardens to check the Rhubarb patch still partially covered with snow…Sure enough brave little rosy buds were pushing their way up through the frozen soil as if to assure me that we could indeed look forward to this favorite pie in the days ahead.
I love to be surprised by another new artistically crafted dessert that is original and breathtakingly beautiful. Some are so absolutely stunning and unusual that they really amount to works of art and one almost hates to destroy their beauty by eating them.
However I am equally as thrilled when someone digs into the old worn recipe box and comes up with an old-time favorite that is not necessarily glamorous or stellar in its presentation, but rather heartwarming in the way it satisfies one’s palette and leaves the eater feeling “cozy” and comforted.
That is why I was so pleased to learn that one of my oldest and most favorite dessert recipes was being revived and used for this coming week’s activity. It is a perfect accompaniment for the meal that is not elegant as much as wholesome and hearty. I know that the men are going to enjoy it as you will when you try it, and what a perfect time to make it while the rhubarb patch is at it’s peak.