I did it, I did it! I am jumping from joy; my heart has grown ten times bigger. I can’t stop bragging. I just tried and I did it! All weekend I’ve been strutting around with a puffed up chest because I did it and I’m pretty darn proud of myself. It just amazes me that I made a pie crust, homemade with NO recipe, NO measuring. Some of you expert bakers/pie makers are probably scaffolding at me for being so darn tooting amazed at myself, but for me I know this was a mile marker.
I’ve lamented before about not being a baker, all that measuring, mixing, waiting…the precision. Not. For. Me. Oh I can bake, as in I could follow a recipe but it just wasn’t my schtick so to speak. Even with a recipe, pie crusts have been elusive to me, too crumbly to soft. Actually I usually purchase frozen or refrigerator crust and call it good. If the filling is good than it’s good enough.
This all came about because of a smashed rhubarb plant.
That’s right, smashed, squashed, stepped on, stomped on or run over, someone did a number on my rhubarb. Probably the same person who stole my one and only sunflower…
I didn’t discover my poor rhubarb until just before we were leaving to go to the cabin. I went to water it and couldn’t believe what I found. It saddens my little gardener heart. It was a new plant this year that I raised from just a wee baby. And it was happy with its home near the compost bins (a very good home for plants I should think). Oh the cruelty of the world. I quickly gathered myself together and decided to make the best of my situation and harvest the rhubarb and make something from it. I cut the damaged stalks, raced into the house and grabbed some lard, butter and a partial bag of frozen strawberries, threw them in the cooler and took off for the cabin.
Up at the cabin, there’s no library of cookbooks (although I do have a few) and no internet to browse or even cell service to call anyone. If you don’t come prepared, well you just make do, so I did.
This is my ‘oven’, it’s propane and only heats from the bottom. It sits on a little cart this is my ‘pantry’ (you see it’s stocked with cabin essentials like canned beans, chili and SPAM). It’s also tiny, no turkeys get cooked in there! I had, on the fly, decided to make some kind of pie and actually settled for a tart. I grabbed my ingredients and then realized that my cookbooks were upstairs, waaay upstairs. Up a ladder into an attic type upstairs and I am extremely laaazy, so I decided to wing it.
I dumped flour into a bowl, about 1 ½ cups, I cut off a piece of lard and some butter, maybe two tablespoons each and sprinkled a little salt over it. I got out two butter knives and cut the cold lard and butter into the flour until it resembled little peas. I dug my hand into the mixture feeling it, making sure that a pinch rubbed between my fingers would stick together. I added a splash of white vinegar, perhaps a tablespoon and then grabbed the coldest water I had which was carbonated water. Splash, mix, splash mix, splash mix until the dough came together but still had some crumbly bits in the bowl. I wrapped up the dough and refrigerated it and waited for hours.
Naturally self-doubt crept into my mind; really I probably should have just gone upstairs and grabbed a cookbook. Really, most of the time my crust doesn’t come out great even with a recipe. But what is done is done. I took out my dough, floured my counter and rolled out my dough. And it rolled beautifully and I could see the little flecks of lard and butter. My hopes began to rise; my spirit was already starting to soar. Into the tart dish and into the oven. It baked around 400°F, I checked it every 5 minutes and rotated it, and for the last 5 moved up a rack. The bottom crisped nicely, the top a little pale due to the lack of heat from above, but viola my pie crust was done.
I filled it with a mixture of rhubarb, the frozen strawberries, orange zest and juice and a little sugar combo that I cooked stove top and let cool. And then I waited for McGyver to return from bow hunting. Would you believe that I was afraid to try it, just not ready? Everything looked right about it, but I just wasn’t ready to find out, if I indeed, did it.
When McGyver returned he was ready for a cup of coffee and a piece of tart. I served it up with a dollop of honey yogurt. He was delighted, he raved, and mmmm, and “babe, this is sooo good”. Convinced I had to try some, with tea please. And yes I did it; somehow I managed a perfectly flaky crust with good flavor and NO Recipe.
My chest is puffed up, I am proud. Now, if I can only do it again…