Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

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Rhubarb is one of my first food memories. I feel that I’m in an exclusive club when it comes to knowing what rhubarb is and how to use it. (I say this lightheartedly) I find it a privilege to have the opportunity to explain to anyone who may be interested, what the tart vegetable is which resembles celery, but gleams a vibrant pinkish-red color. These tall stalks with large green elephant ear looking leaves (don’t eat them, they’re toxic) grew next to the old, red painted shed in the backyard of the house I grew up in, in Northeast Wisconsin. I was blessed with their presence again in college, when I identified these perennial springtime plants growing in our backyard. I could always rely on finding local rhubarb to add to a berry pie, make into jam or combine with strawberries to transform into a tasty crisp. My mom was the one who introduced me to freshly made warm rhubarb jam spread across crispy saltine crackers, which is one of my fondest childhood food memories.

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When the rhubarb was ready to harvest, we knew warmer temperatures were on their way. Rhubarb season would run roughly from May-June, which meant this was the first “fruit” dessert of the season. When I moved to Virginia and now North Carolina, I rely on the local grocery store to supply all the rhubarb to satisfy my annual craving. I’m on a mission to figure out a way to grow this cool weather plant myself, as I know it can be done in NC. Last summer I found a farmer who grew rhubarb in Columbus County, which is even further south. You can hold me to it…I am growing my own rhubarb and will post an article next spring to prove it!

Out of all of the desserts that rhubarb can be transformed into it, my favorite, hands down, is Strawberry Rhurbarb Pie. I’ve used the same combination of recipes ever since I started making the pie in college, tweaking as I see fit. As it’s deemed my favorite springtime dessert, I needed to make it to celebrate graduation from grad school this past May.  Luckily, the stalks appeared on grocery store shelves just in time.

I may have been naive thinking that I was one of the only people who looked forward to this divine combination, filling the space between two flaky crusts. Come to find out, today, June 9th, is National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day. In celebration and in honor of this Northern classic that words cannot describe, I share my recipe with you.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Inspired by Betty Crocker’s Cookbook 2005 Edition & Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook 12th Edition- Rhubarb Pie recipes and Pastry for Double-Crust (Two-Crust) Pie recipe

Ingredients:

Pie crust (Makes two 9-inch crusts):

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup Organic All Vegetable Shortening (butter or lard should work just as well)

8 tablespoons cold water

Filling:

1 1/2 cups cane sugar

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups 1/2-inch pieces rhubarb

3 cups sliced strawberries

Directions:

Heat oven to 375°F. (If refrigerating the dough, wait to turn oven on until ready to bake the pie)

Pie crust:

Whisk flours and salt in medium bowl until well blended. Add fat.

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Use a pastry blender to cut in the fat until the mixture consists of “pea-size” pieces.

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Sprinkle water over the mixture, one tablespoon at a time. Toss with fork and press down, pushing dough to one side of the bowl. Do this until dough is moistened.

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Using your hands, divide dough in half and form each half into a ball. Gently press dough down on floured surface, shaping into two rounds. Optional: Wrap each round in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes to firm up the dough.

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Using a floured rolling pin, roll out one dough round on a lightly floured surface, making the pastry about 2 inches larger than your 9-inch pie plate. Transfer the pastry by gently rolling it around the lightly floured rolling pin and unroll in pie plate. Be careful not to stretch it. Roll out second dough round or wait to roll out until the filling has been made.

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Filling:

Whisk sugar, flour and cinnamon together in large bowl. Add in rhubarb and strawberries and gently stir with wooden spoon until well combined.

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Pour filling into pie crust. Scrape bowl with spatula to make sure you don’t waste any of this nectarous fruit filling.

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Finish rolling out the second dough round, making it the same size as the first. Use your floured rolling pin to wrap dough around and gently fold dough in half. Fold in half again. Using a knife, make slits through all layers of dough to let steam pass through.

IMG_1803Transfer to fruit filled pie plate and open carefully. Make sure it is aligned properly. Fold top pastry over and around bottom pastry, lifting up slightly to create a crust along the rim of the pie plate. Trim excess dough if needed. Using your thumbs, press edges together to form creases and seal the pastry.

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Cover crust with foil to prevent over-browning. Optional: brush top crust with egg white and sprinkle with cinnamon and/or sugar.

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Bake for 25 minutes, remove foil and bake another 20-30 minutes or until top pastry is golden and filling is bubbling. Let pie cool on wire rack for at least 2 hours to set before serving. Serve by itself or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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Post-semester Raleigh Staycation

My first week/weekend free in months. What does a girl do? Celebrate of course!

IMG_0268Bida Manda – Raleigh, with the lovely ladies I spent the semester with

IMG_0279Trampled by Turtles Concert- an awesome experience reflecting on the time since I first saw these guys at Waterfront Bar at UW-Stout to where I am today

IMG_0283Pretty happy with this homemade lunch creation

IMG_0325Indulging at Raleigh Brewing with good friends, Katie & Tara and my love, Michael

 

Took advantage of the brilliant sunshine & 57 degree day at the North Carolina Museum of Art-Museum Park.

IMG_0289Received new Christmas ornaments from mom and dad!

Enjoyed another gorgeous day hiking at Umstead State Park with my love. Incredible lunch at La Farm Bakery.

Putting into practice what I learned in Food and Society…indulging in food from past memories of home- WI and embracing new memories of home here in NC with chocolate from Escazu, Raleigh.

Couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the semester 🙂

Exploring Southern Foodways with John T. Edge

It’s not everyday that an aspiring food writer has the opportunity to learn from a distinguished Southern food writer such as John T. Edge. Opportunities like this one leads me to believe that the path that I’m on is where I’m suppose to be. The Masters of Nutrition Program at Meredith College has opened up so many doors in the last four years, and continues to. Last Monday night I had the privilege to be in a room full of nutrition grad students and listen to John T.’s journey in becoming an iconic Southern food writer.

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John T. began by giving us a brief explanation how his Southern roots gave him the inspiration to change careers and earn a Master’s Degree in Southern Studies. This has allowed him to write about the South’s identity around food. Topics such as farming cash crops, race, poverty and power are near to John T., as his work for the Southern Foodways Alliance documents and educates about Southern foodways. Thinking about food in new ways and distinguishing food and place are crucial aspects when telling the story of the South.

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A couple of John T.’s main points were that the Southern food culture continues to evolve and the South is defined by culture and the people who live it. Rather than trying to preserve the culture, John T.’s work focuses on documenting the evolution of Southern Foodways, through working class people. He discussed how a newer Southern cuisine is emerging such as fried chicken from The General Muir, a restaurant located in Georgia inspired by a New York Jewish Deli. Although Southern food is evolving, we learned a little about his own food traditions. You will never find sweet cornbread on his plate and holidays will always include pickled peaches.

As the discussion was wrapping up, I had a chance to gain a little insight on how I can work to become a successful food writer. Unique ideas, passion and practice are a few words that I took away and will remain with me as I continue to write. 057

After our classroom discussion, we headed over to Meredith’s Jones Auditorium to hear from an expert panel of North Carolina chefs and farmers while John T. moderated the discussion. Chefs Ashley Christensen, Scott Crawford, Ricky Moore and Andrea Reusing, along with farmers from Coon Rock Farm, Jamie DeMent and Richard Holcomb discussed how they celebrate the diverse variety of Southern foods. Agreeing with John T. that Southern food is continually evolving, they discussed the importance of discovering and re-discovering methods and techniques of Southern cooking to stimulate new interest with customers while continuing to reflect the Southern culture they love.

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I walked away from this event with a new sense of appreciation for Southern foodways and am eager to continue my exploration. Thank again John T. and Triangle chefs for sharing your stories with us!

Project Progress: Month 2

July is typically the month I start thinking about the start of the fall semester, planning a few end of summer road-trips/vacations and head to a few outdoor concerts. This year, I feel the days are not long enough and my weekends are shortened as I am visiting libraries, restaurants, attending food festivals and talking with locals about the county’s cuisine. Yes, my practicum does involve eating, and no, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The experience has really been eye opening, learning about this great state and county I live in. Here are a few things I’ve been up to since mid-June.

  • Attended the Lenior County Farmers Market
  • Attended the NC Blueberry Festival in Burgaw, NC
  • Bought the domain for my website
  • Posted Farmers Market Series #1
  • Attended Midtown Farmers Market and the NC State Farmers Market in Wake County
  • Enjoyed BBQ at Skylight Inn (Pitt County), Kings BBQ and Ken’s BBQ (Lenior County)
  • Enjoyed dinner at Chef and the Farmer (Lenior County)
  • Posted on my blogging weekend workshop
  • Posted ‘My Mission’
  • Added a NC Food Festivals page to my blog
  • Researched the Moravian culture and Chicken Pie recipes
  • Subscribed to Our State Magazine
  • Researched Wake County – dined at Poole’s Diner and Mecca
  • Enjoyed NC State’s Howling Cow Ice Cream for the 1st time
  • Wrote emails and spoke with various people/organizations in specified counties

While there’s still so much more to accomplish in the next month….it has been a gastronomical few weeks! Check back soon as posts and pictures of my experiences will be making their way to the blog!

 

What is my mission?

It is now early July and I am near completing my second month of my practicum experience. What an adventure it has been so far! Visiting Old Salem in Forsyth County, talking with BBQ masters in Lenoir County and attending Got to be NC Festival in Wake County has been a few of the experiences this project has led me to. Throughout my research I feel as though I’ve had a challenge that has been lingering in the back of my mind since I started. What is my mission? I know Elena’s mission for her Tasting North Carolina project, but what is MY mission? How do I want to portray my thoughts and ideas on this blog as it connects my research together and continues after the practicum is complete?

The first question I asked myself was “How does this project relate to being a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a Gastronome? Second question, “What do I want to get across to my audience?” Thirdly, “What is my voice in social media as a health expert?”

My mission: To share my love and passion for food, nutrition, wellness and health.

Food – I am a Gastronome.

Nutrition – I am a RD.

Wellness – I am a Yogi. I embrace living in the moment and believe in the importance of mind/body health.

Health – Relating to all other facets of well-being: physical/mental/spiritual/social/cultural.

Through this project my hope is to express the importance of knowing where your food comes from while each of us supports our own health and the health of the local community.

As I continue my writing and research, I’m sure my mission may shift and sway as I encounter new experiences and meet new people. Until my next post, Eat & Be Well.

Blog Writing 101

I had the opportunity to spend a weekend with Elena in Wilmington, NC to discuss blog writing, food photography, recipe development and goals for my practicum project. We started out by visiting the Columbus County Community Farmers Market and stopped at Dale’s Seafood in Lake Waccamaw on the drive back. To my delight, this was the start of a summer filled with visiting small, local restaurants and trying the local cuisine such as steamed baby shrimp and hush puppies.
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Throughout the rest of the afternoon and weekend we discussed many topics as I picked Elena’s brain to absorb all the knowledge I could and learn a few steps she took in becoming a successful food blogger. Below is a list of list of important and interesting tidbits of what I learned over the weekend. Talk about a motivating 24 hours! I walked away with pages of notes and a feeling of excitement and eagerness to dive into the project.

Blogging: How to connect further with readers and gain audience?

    • Stay consistent. Write quality posts on a regular basis.
      • Google will start to verify posts as current

Photography: How to photograph food?

      • Use angles and beauty from natural light and serving dish to form beauty
      • Move body around subject
      • Keep an eye out for dishes online/thrift stores/clearance
      • Paint foam board preferred color for backdrop
      • Using a phone’s camera (specifically iPhone 5) can work as well as a DSLR camera, mainly for convenience purposes
      • Use Instagram for process shots
      • Check out Photojojo for gifts & gear for photographers

Posting articles with pictures: How to size images and edit?

      • Make photos the same width website theme/template
      • Photoshop
      • Phone photo editing app: VSCO cam

Using Widgets and plug-ins in WordPress: Which to use?

      • Plug-in to easily print recipes: Shareaholic
      • Option for embedding Twitter feed

Using social media: what to post where?

      • Post different content on different platforms
      • Creating a voice within each will lead to more followers

Computer: Which to buy?

      • MacBook Pro with Retina

Promoting blog: How to choose business cards?

Recipe development: How to start?

      • Relate recipe back to personal life
      • Research basic recipes, experiment to make your own
      • Make recipe 1-2 times…or until satisfied
      • Follow other bloggers and read cookbooks and modify at least 2 ingredients to make it your own, credit original author for inspiration
      • Use Bloglovin’ to follow blogs
      • Use Flipboard to collect and save recipes by URL
      • Remember simplicity
      • Stay seasonal

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‘Tis the Season for Farmers Markets! #1

It is officially summer. This may be my favorite time of the year. Not only do we have sunshine for over 12 hours, but the opportunities for in-season, local, fresh produce are almost endless. From farmers markets to roadside stands to CSA’s, each week we can be sure to find a mouthwatering summertime favorite.

As part of my practicum project, I have the opportunity to make it a point to visit farmers markets outside the Raleigh area. This makes me happy, as I get to drive to new places, meet farmers from various counties and most importantly…..EAT! Eat real, wholesome, locally grown food. Anyone who knows me will agree that I absolutely love grocery shopping. It doesn’t get any better when you actually get to MEET the farmer who grew your food. When it comes to waking up early on a Saturday for a market, I’ll be there.

I decided I will start a series of posts of farmers markets I visit over the course of the summer, which will very well lead into fall and winter. I’m so grateful for those farmers who brave the weather all year round! (Thank goodness I live in the South!)

The first ‘non-Raleigh’ market of the year started with a trip to Columbus County. After a drive through back-country roads to meet Elena, not knowing what to expect, I ended up at the pavilion.

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After speaking with a few farmers and buying cucumbers, beets, and turnip greens, grown mostly pesticide free, I was extremely ecstatic when I found a farmer from Higher Ground Gardens selling rhubarb!! Yes, North Carolina grown RHUBARB!!! Being from WI, this was a treat. I have not once found a farmer who was able to grow rhubarb in this state in the past 4 years I’ve lived here. Every time I asked about it, I received the same response: “It’s too hot for rhubarb to grow here.” Well, this farmer has proven that he is able to grow some great looking (and tasting) rhubarb!

The Columbus County Community Farmers Market is surely one I would recommend to anyone who is looking for good quality, wholesome food who lives south of Fayetteville, near Wilmington or even close to the eastern South Carolina border. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

Carrot, Beet, Rhubarb Smoothie
Serves 1

1 cup water
½ cup sliced raw carrots, frozen
¼ cup sliced raw red beets, frozen
¼ cup chopped raw rhubarb, frozen
½ tablespoon Coconut oil
Sprinkle of Ginger
Handful of Goji berries

1. Slice and chop carrots, beets and rhubarb after getting back from market. Freeze together in 1 bag for convenience.
2. Pour water into blender, add frozen ingredients and blend to break up.
3. Add coconut oil and ginger, blend. Taste. If the flavor is too earthy, add Goji berries to sweeten.
4. Enjoy!

I thank Elena for inspiring me to add beets to my smoothies and drink them out of blue mason jars!

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 Read more about my ‘Discovering North Carolina’ project here

Food for thought: What is your favorite summertime food or favorite smoothie ingredient?