Thursday, May 30, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb pie has been a part of my last five meals... okay, maybe six. You think I'm kidding. Between this and the sweet tea I'm chugging, I'll be in a diabetic coma before long. My Memorial Day activities included a few hours in the kitchen putting together my first homemade pie. I've had a hankering for Strawberry Rhubarb pie since we went strawberry picking in Edisto a few weeks ago.

This was my first experience using rhubarb, so of course I under-bought the amount that my recipe called for. Because of this, I had to adjust the amount of strawberries and cornstarch in my pie. Purchasing rhubarb turned out to be quite the conversation starter. I heard stories of yummy grandma-made pies from a couple people in the grocery store while checking out. 

Because this was my first homemade pie crust, I was slightly intimidated. I actually bought a couple frozen pie crusts just in case my efforts were a total bust. I used Martha Stewart's recipe for Pate Brisee. If you have a food processor this is seriously way too easy and is certainly better than the pre-made store bought ones. I look forward to using this pie crust for my Pecan Pies in the fall. You can easily freeze the dough, which will definitely be handy during the holidays. 

I read somewhere to "sweat" the rhubarb so it's not as tart. In order to do this I sprinkled a little sugar over the chopped rhubarb and let it sit while I made the crust. I added so many extra strawberries to the filling which created a good a bit of liquid in the mixture. I was scared to add all of the liquid to the pie, so I added the fruit first and then spooned about a cup of the liquid over the filling. 

The lattice crust was pretty fun to make. I watched a youtube video for a tutorial on how to weave the crust. Call me lazy, but I didn't do a egg wash or a sugar sanding on top. Below is  the recipe I used with the modifications I made along the way. The pie takes forever to bake, so you should grab an Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager to help pass the time.


  • For The Filling

    • 6 stalks of rhubarb, cut into 3/4 inch pieces (3 cups)
    • 4 cups of strawberries, coarsely chopped
    • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup cornstarch
    • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest, plus 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • For The Crust

    • 2 disks Pate Brisee
    • All-purpose flour, for surface
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
    • Sanding sugar, for sprinkling (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make the filling: Mix together rhubarb, strawberries, granulated sugar, cornstarch, zest and juice.
  2. Make the crust: Roll out 1 disk pate brisee to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Pour in filling; dot top with butter. Refrigerate while making top crust.
  3. Roll remaining disk pate brisee to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut into at least 15 1/2-inch-wide strips using a fluted pastry cutter (I used a pizza cutter).
  4. Lay 8 strips across pie. Fold back every other strip, and lay a horizontal strip across the center of the pie. Unfold folded strips, then fold back remaining strips. Lay another horizontal strip across pie. Repeat folding and unfolding strips to weave a lattice pattern. Repeat on remaining side. 
  5. Trim bottom and top crusts to a 1-inch overhang using kitchen shears, and press together to seal around edges. Fold edges under, and crimp as desired. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (I never refrigerated my pie before baking).
  6. Brush crust with egg wash, and sprinkle generously with sanding sugar. Bake pie on middle rack, with a foil-lined baking sheet on bottom rack to catch juices, until vigorously bubbling in center and bottom crust is golden, about 1 1/2 hours. (Loosely tent with foil after 1 hour if crust is browning too quickly.) Transfer pie to a wire rack, and let cool for at least 2 hours (preferably longer) before serving.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Heady Blooms

Right now the streets of Charleston are wafting with some of the sweetest, intoxicating Southern scents. From the tiniest Confederate Jasmine to the big momma Southern Magnolias, I can't get enough. The gardenia bushes in my back yard have just finally started blooming after tempting their scent with green buds for weeks. 

Confederate Jasmine

Like a true Southern woman, this Magnolia is as dramatic as the day is long. Sadly, none of these blooms will do well indoors. Have you ever tried to put a magnolia in a vase? Like they say, you can't cage a wild thing.

Southern Magnolia

In an effort to bring their fragrance indoors, I've rounded up a few fresh floral colognes. When I was knee-deep in wedding planning, I read a cheesy article that sparked the idea to wear a different scent on your wedding day and anniversaries to trigger memories of significant events. For this reason, I bought Trish McEvoy's Gardenia right before my wedding.

This plan is flawed for a couple reasons. Buying a bottle of perfume is pretty expensive when you're only using it once a year. You certainly can't use the same bottle for years because the scent will eventually go bad. I now wear the gardenia scent throughout the year, in hopes this will trigger memories of my youth when I'm a wrinkly old lady. I think (and hope) the scent is fresh enough that don't smell like a little old lady quite yet.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mint and Kumquat-Infused Vodka

A friend and I picked some of the cutest kumquats on the way home from work tonight. Kumquats are small citrus fruits that you can find growing in fancy gardens around downtown Charleston. These little fruits are sometimes bitter, with the skin being the sweetest part. I brought them home to infuse in vodka with some mint growing in my own, not-so-fancy garden.

I don't have many uses for kumquats, but I thought this was a pretty good idea. The process is very easy: Wash the fruit and slice in half. Prepare the mint by rinsing, stemming and chopping the leaves. Place both ingredients in a jar and pour vodka over them. Cover the jars with a lid and place in a cool, dark place for 3 days. The vodka in this recipe could easily be replaced with gin. 

Mint and Kumquat-Infused Vodka
My jars are in the fridge and are going to be hard to resist!  I can now say that I foraged the makings for a drink in downtown Charleston. We talked about mixing this with soda water, but I'm starting to think sweet tea might make a good match. How would you drink this concoction?

Sunday, May 12, 2013


This past week we took a little vacation where we spent a lot of time on the front porch. Whether we were sitting in rocking chairs, the hammock, or the porch swing it was a great way to pass the day. We listened to good music, smelled the salt air and confederate jasmine, and grilled every afternoon. It got me thinking, why don't we have a better porch setup at our home? As I write this post, I'm sitting on the porch at home listening to my neighbor pickin' his guitar, while children are playing in the background.* Sounds like the perfect spot for a fancy porch swing, right? 

I pulled together a some photos of porch swings to get new ideas for my outdoor living room. The Palmetto Bluff Swing, pictured here, is my favorite set-up. I love the natural look of the dark green wood. I would pair my swing with dark green rocking chairs, chocolate brown ticking stripe pillows, and bamboo shades like the Whimsical Gardener photo. That sounds like a good start!

My porch drink

Obviously, an important element to porching is having a good drink to sip on. Today I'm sipping sweet tea with mint, but I just came across a drink called Porch Swing Punch and had to share it. What are your must-have elements for a good day on the porch?

Porch Swing Punch
*My neighborhood is not always this lovely. He's actually a middle-aged guy who built a half-pipe in his back yard.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Vintage Snail Mail

Check out the vintage postcards I came across in downtown Savannah. If you've never been to The Paris Market and Brocante on Broughton Street, put it on your list the next time you're in town. The word vintage is thrown around a lot these days, but these postcards are the real deal. Some of them are filled with messages from the early 1900's, others are blank and are ready for sending.

I picked up a blank one and sent it to a good friend. I'm not sure why, but it just felt right to send it from this rural post office in Adams Run, SC. This sweet little post office has been in operation since August 15, 1893. I can only imagine all the letters that have passed through here.