Seasonal Flavors of Childhood

Most of the blogs I follow are of the “green” persuasion, but I have a few others that draw me in because of their beautiful, breath-taking photography or just darn delicious recipes.  (I want to think I could cook like that one day.) Lucullian’s Delights Food Blog lures me in every time!  She’s located in Tuscany, Italy and takes gorgeous pictures. Oh, and did I mention she has some mouth-watering recipes too!  This month Ilva has a food challenge to cook up “Heart Healthy” dishes made with local, seasonal fruits or vegetables from our specific location on the globe.  This qualifies her as a green blog in my book! My dot on the map is Marin County, in Northern California, USA.

The last time my 2 year old and I went to the farmer’s market, I spotted some rhubarb that just came into season. My parents had a garden when my brothers and I were young and we grew rhubarb. I remember the leaves being poisonous, but we could eat the bright pink stems.  Seeing this strange vegetable that acts more like a fruit brought back memories of childhood and strawberry rhubarb pie – the sweet and the sour melded together with just the right amount of sugar.  So, I had to have some.

All the ingredients were available locally, were in season and are organic. The strawberries are at their peak and are bursting with flavor. Even the tangelo I purchased for the orange zest was in season.  I am not sure if my recipe will count as “Heart Healthy” though.  It is pie after all.  But.. it is full of fruit! Unfortunately, I made the pie crust with butter instead of vegetable shortening.

The reason I chose not to use the vegetable shortening, is that all three organic choices available at Whole Foods where made from palm oil.  I stood in the aisle holding a can verses the plastic container – for obvious green reasons – but all I could think about was what I learned recently:  Orangutan habitats in Borneo and Sumatra are being destroyed for palm oil. Some 3,000 orangutans each year die, as a result and young ones are orphaned.

I couldn’t enjoy my pie knowing this information and still choose to buy the oil.  I am voting in favor of orangutans with my dollars. So, I bought butter from Clover Organic Dairy farm just one county north of where I live – so at least it’s local, if not low in fat!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

3 cups rhubarb stalks cut into 1/2″ slices (trim stringy outside layer)

1 cup strawberries – stemmed and sliced

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

3 Tablespoons quick cooking tapioca

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix rhubarb and strawberries with sugar, tapioca, salt, cinnamon and orange zest. Let sit for 10 minutes. Turn into pastry lined pan. Top with pastry slices for lattice topping. Tuck and flute edges.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue to cook for 30-40 minutes.   Brush rice milk on top last 10 minutes and sprinkle with sugar.  Cool on a rack.

Here is my “Never Fail pie crust recipe”, passed down from my mom:

4 cups flour

1 Tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 3/4 cups vegetable shortening or butter substitute in same amount

1 Tablespoon white or cider vinegar

1 large egg

1/2 cup water

Mix first 3 ingredients in large bowl with fork or pastry cutter. Cut in shortening until crumbly. In small bowl, beat with a fork: water, vinegar and egg. Combine with first mixture until moist. Knead until smooth (about 1 minute). Divide into 4 patties and wrap with wax paper. Chill for 20 minutes. Makes enough crust for 2 pies. You can freeze patties for later.

My mom and I enjoyed a slice knowing we supported local produce farmers, dairy farmers and orangutans!

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7 thoughts on “Seasonal Flavors of Childhood”

  1. Hi! We just wanted to let you know that we loved your post and decided to feature it on KiwiLog’s weekly mom blog round up. Thanks, and keep doing what you’re doing!

  2. Rhubarb is an ingredient I’m very curious about and I see it all over the blogsphere now because it’s in season but I’ve never ever used it yet. Thanks for sharing this. I love to learn about new ingredients and how to use them. :)

  3. I had plans to make one of these this weekend, but a late night celebrating a birthday party, and another tonight, may just put me of ;o) I promise to let you know when I have though as it looks fantastic, cheers


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