For Steve’s birthday, we recently made a rhubarb and blueberry pie. We had a bumper crop of rhubarb from a friend and needed to use it up. We also had some blueberries that were about to go bad in the fridge. Why not make a pie? There was also talk of a rhubarb chutney, but we used an entire bag of rhubarb in this pie…
This pie demonstrates a principle of Micro Living in cooking: Always cook from scratch! This not only saves space, but it saves money. Instead of finding room in our cabinets for pie filling and room in the fridge for refrigerated pie crusts (which aren’t as tasty anyway), we use our airtight canisters to store flour, sugar, brown sugar, etc. We then use these ingredients for anything from waffles to biscuits. Also, a pound of flour is significantly cheaper than pre-made ingredients. Also, the benefit of airtight canisters and bulk ingredients is that you can buy what you need and they keep longer than refrigerated ingredients. Win-win if you ask me!
We make LOTS of food from scratch: marinara sauce, stock/broth, refried beans, bread, cookies, salsa, you name it. I’ll try to post my stock recipe soon, as its probably the easiest thing I make. And when you pop it into water bottles in the fridge, it lasts through any soups or recipes you might want to make.
For the time being though, I’ll focus on pie! We found a general outline of rhubarb pie filling in the red gingham Better Homes & Gardens cookbook under the pie tab. This is my basic pie pastry:
For a Double Crust pie
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces (I like Butter Flavored Crisco… it’s surprisingly vegan!)
6 to 8 tablespoons very cold water
Put the shortening in the fridge for an hour or overnight. After the shortening chills, put the flour in a large, wide bowl so that you have no trouble putting your hands in it. Add the sugar and salt. Mix well, tossing with your hands. Add the shortening here and there. Using your finger tips, a pastry blender or 2 knives, rub or cut the shortening into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse, damp meal. You want both large and small clumps. With a fork in one hand and your cold water in another, add half of the water to the pastry. Mix the dough with the fork, pulling up the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl and pushing down to mix everything well. Add the remaining water in 2 stages, mixing until the dough coheres. The dough should feel dampish, but not wet. Don’t add more water than you need!
Test the dough by squeezing some of it between your fingers; if it seems a little dry and not quite packable, drizzle a teaspoon or so of cold water over the dough and work it with your fingertips. Using your hands, pack the dough into 2 balls as you would pack a snowball. Make one ball bigger than the other for the bottom crust. Flatten the balls into 3/4 inch disks. Wrap the disks in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight before baking.
Follow recipe for pie filling and rolling in the Better Homes & Gardens book or other favorite cookbook.
I never use a machine or food processor because I think it’s very important to feel your ingredients when you’re cooking. Plus, not everyone has the room or money for a food processor. Hands are the ultimate Micro Living cooking tool!
Enjoy and let me know how your pies come out!