For some reason, a line from “Hotel California” has been in my head all day. Only, instead of “some dance to remember / some dance to forget,” my mind has decided it must be “some bake to remember / some bake to forget.” Weird, yes, but not all that surprising, honestly.
My dad’s birthday is next week, and I don’t know what we’re doing (Maybe I’m on a “dark desert highway” with the “cool wind in my hair”?). This will be his first birthday we’ll be celebrating since he died and my brain doesn’t seem to be processing it. I was saying the mourner’s kaddish twice a day for a few months, and somehow fell out of the habit, and it’s proving harder to pick back up than I anticipated.
And so I bake. I think of dish after dish and dessert after dessert that he would have wanted, foods we talked about making — kaddish through food, if you will.
Strawberry-rhubarb pie was one of his favorites, and I remember my mom making it for him for his birthday — which worked out well, since his birthday falls right when the first crop of rhubarb ripens for the season, and strawberries become more and more readily available as the summer draws near. It took my dad nearly 20 years to convince me to eat — and then like — cranberries, but I’m certain I loved this pie from the first time I had it, even though it has that same kind of tart/bitter/super-sweet balance as cranberries tend to have.
Am I baking to remember, or to forget? Probably a little of both. Remembering all the good times and how he wanted a ginormous shindig this year to commemorate a major milestone: 65 years. All the while I’m also trying to forget — even just a little — that we’ll be having his party without him this year.
But just because my inspiration for baking this delightful pie is on the sad side, don’t let that deter you from making it. The ingredients are in their seasonal prime starting right now. May I suggest adding it to the menu for your Memorial Day celebration? Father’s Day, perhaps?
Makes: One 9-inch pie (8 slices)
1 package Pillsbury Just Unroll pie crusts (2 crusts) or any double-crust recipe
5 stalks or 3 1/2 C chopped fresh rhubarb
1 lb / 3 C hulled and chopped fresh strawberries
1 C sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp cinnamon
- Grease a 9-inch pie pan. Gently lay one rolled out crust into the pan, with the excess hanging over the edges. Set the second crust aside.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Mix together the remaining ingredients. Pour onto pie crust, spreading evenly.
- Gently lay the second pie crust over the top. Tuck the excess hanging over the edges under the bottom crust so it’s all contained within the edges of the pan. Pinch the dough around the outside to create a scalloped edge all the way around. (See photo.)
- Cut slits in the top of the pie.
- Cut 2-inch wide strips of aluminum foil and fashion them around the edge of the pie to protect the crust from getting overcooked. (About three strips from a standard roll.)
- Bake the pie at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Lower heat to 350 degrees and remove foil from edges. Bake another 20-25 minutes, until the crust is a pretty golden-brown and the filling bubbles out the slits.
- Let cool completely (this will allow the filling to thicken). Enjoy on its own or with ice cream (always better!).