The dog days of summer are here, folks, and as much as I dread the hot and sticky season for its extreme hot and stickiness, I love what it means for family time. We just returned from a nearly five-week trek around the Midwest, two kids and a puppy in tow, and my heart is feeling pretty full. We put nearly 4,000 miles on the car, saw 12 states and spent much-needed time with family. It’s good to be home (with our own beds! And our washing machine! And our beloved morning lattes!), but these summer vacations keep me going through the other 11 months of the year when we live so far away. Family is so, so good.
I have a memory card filled with photos from our journey, but I thought I’d start with these. The first leg of our trip took us back to Wisconsin to visit my grandma on her farm. I’ve written before about her 40-year-old rhubarb plant before, and I started dreaming of that rhubarb plant months before our visit. In fact, I kept nervously calling Grandma to check on its progress. You want rhubarb ready, but it can be too ready, you know? She diligently kept watch until we arrived, and the minute we pulled in the driveway, that trusty rhubarb was ready for picking.
This year Beany joined Grandma and me in the garden. It was amazing to see our little city girl pulling rhubarb straight from the ground like she’d been doing it for years. For someone who moved around for so much of my childhood, I’ve always counted on the farm as my steady space. It’s always been there, always been home, and seeing my kids run around with Grandma in that same yard and the house with that same level of comfort makes my heart pretty happy.
Now back to the pie. Strawberry rhubarb pie is nothing new, but it’s a classic for a reason, and the crumble topping gives it a fun spin. I love that, just like the farm, it doesn’t need a lot of extras. Its prowess is in its simplicity. Its flavor comes straight from the earth. And it’s summertime, nestled in a pie crust.
- For the pie:
- 1 pie crust
- 4 cups rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut into ¾-inch pieces
- 2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- pinch of salt
- For the crumble topping:
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- Roll out the pie dough on a floured surface in a 14-inch round. Carefully lower it into a 9-inch pie dish without stretching or tearing the dough. Trim a 1-inch overhang around the edges of the dough, and fold it under, pressing gently to seal. Then crimp the edges to make it pretty. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss together the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Then pour it into the prepared crust.
- To make the crumble topping, use a separate bowl, and mix together the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar and salt. Use a pastry cutter or your hands to work in the butter until the mixture resembles course, wet sand. It’s OK if there are some larger pieces of butter not quite mixed in. They’ll melt and be delicious.
- Sprinkle the crumble topping over the pie, and place the pie dish on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Put the pie in the oven, and immediately reduce the heat to 375 degrees F. Bake until the crumble topping is browned and the crust is lightly browned, about 1 ½ hours. Keep an eye on it, though. If the crust begins to brown too quickly, you can tent it with foil for the remainder of the baking time.
- Cool before serving. And don’t forget the ice cream!
How’s your summer going so far? Any fun trips? Fun foods? I’d love to hear about it!