Trying new foods, especially when it comes to canning, is one of my favorite things to do. I can’t say that I’ve always been open to trying new food though. As a child my parents were hard-pressed to get me to eat anything other than hot dogs, peanut butter and jelly, and chocolate. I hated everything and refused to even try most of what my mother put on my plate.
Over the years I’ve mellowed. Probably the main reason for this was when I began dating I was embarrassed by the fact that there was never anything that I could actually say I liked on the menu. On the first date with my now hubby, he took me to Greek Town in downtown Detroit and ordered gyros for me. Lamb (I had no idea what it was until after he’d ordered it for me)! I choked every bit of it down, claiming the entire time that it was wonderful. To my dismay, hubby then began taking me there at least once a month and each and every time I ate what was put in front of me too afraid to say that I didn’t like it. By the end of our first year of dating, I acquired a taste for lamb and many other foods that I forced myself to eat in order to save face in front of my would-be hubby, his parents, and his friends. What a girl has to go through!
Now-a-days there are not too many things I won’t eat, although I am not partial to seafood and raw tomatoes on anything or by themselves give me hives, literally. Besides that, I do try to keep an open mind and have found that some of the foods that I sat at the kitchen table staring at on my plate for hours after everyone else had finished eating refusing to touch as a child, are actually really good.
Every year I try to find at least one or two new foods to try, be it in a dinner recipe or a new canning recipe. Not everything I’ve tried has been “to die for”, some in fact I doubt I’ll actually ever eat again, but every once in a while I discover something that I’m sorry I didn’t try sooner. So far this year guava, marmalade, and most recently rhubarb fall in the “to die for” category — especially Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie.
Fresh deep-dish Strawberry Pie has been part of my recipe collection for at least the past twenty-five years. My mother never made it while I lived at home, she was not a pie maker. Whenever my father had a hankering for it he either went to Big Boy or Baker’s Square. Never one to turn away from a challenge, I began making homemade strawberry pies as soon as I moved out on my own and taught myself to cook and bake. I especially loved making things that my father enjoyed because he was always willing to try everything I made. There were very few things he didn’t absolutely love, so this was all the inspiration I needed to keep me cooking — that and my desire to impress my would-be hubby with my ever-expanding culinary skills.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie was one of my father’s favorites, but rhubarb to me was exotic and scary. Because of it’s similar structure to celery, and my continuing dislike of that, rhubarb was one of those things I could never bring myself to cooking with. Finally though, after reading several blogs with tempting recipes using rhubarb, my continuing desire to want to put-up everything and anything I possibly can, and my father mentioning to me in passing that he was going to have to go out and find someplace to get some fresh strawberry-rhubarb pie now that strawberry season was upon us, I had to finally break down and try it.
I am proud to tell you, my father will never again have to eat store-bought, restaurant made, or chemically processed strawberry-rhubarb pie again. I made one last weekend when we celebrated Father’s Day with him. I had him over for breakfast, and for dessert (I truly believe that every meal should have dessert) I gave him the first slice of the first strawberry-rhubarb pie I ever made. He loved it. He could not say enough about it. His only comment other than it was perfect was that it would be even better when it was cold (I served it about an hour after it had come out of the oven).
3 Cups Chopped Rhubarb
4 Cups Sliced Strawberries
1 Cup Sugar
3 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1/2 Cup Clear Jel dissolved in 1 Cup Water
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Place in unbaked pie shell and cover with top crust. Cover pie with foil. Bake in 425° oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil, turn oven down to 350° and continue cooking another 20 – 25 minutes till golden brown.
Because the pie turned out so well and everyone loved it, I had to make some Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Filling and can it so we will be able to enjoy fresh pies all winter long. Here is the recipe.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Filling
9 Cups Chopped Rhubarb
12 Cups Sliced Strawberries
3 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1 1/2 Cup Clear Jel dissolved in 2 Cups Water
1 Additional Cup of Water
Chop rhubarb and slice strawberries. Combine fruit in pan and mix in sugar. Add lemon juice, Clear Jel dissolved in 2 cups water and additional one cup of water. Bring to a boil slowly over medium-high heat. Boil for one minute. Ladle into hot jars, remove air bubbles, seal and process in water-bath canner for 25 minutes.
To use: Empty jar of pie filling into prepared crust. Top with crust, seal edges, and bake as above pie recipe.
I am so happy that rhubarb turned out to be one of those “to die for” foods that although I might regret not trying sooner, is now a family favorite. The pie I made was gone within 24 hours and already hubby is asking when I’m making another. The pantry has enough filling for nine pies over the next year, so I think I’ll have to buy a few more stalks of fresh rhubarb this weekend at the fruit market before it is gone for another year and make one more pie before cherries are ready for picking and cherry pie will be on hubby’s mind. I planted two of my own rhubarb plants this past spring so next year I’ll be harvesting home-grown rhubarb to can, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.