Let’s Cook: Parables of Pie Crust and Rhubarb
Upon entering the kitchen at First Lutheran Church, I heard the clinking of tin pie plates as they are taken from a stack. Next comes the rhythm of the rolling pins as they clap with the counter while flattening pugs of ivory dough into circles. Occasionally a pug becomes a heart, a perfect square box, and once I witnessed a fish like shape. I took it as a sign from above that if Jesus used five loaves of bread and two fish to feed a multitude, then making 100 pies per day for the North Dakota State Fair with plenty of supplies should be a breeze.
For quite a stretch, First Lutheran Church of Minot has had a food stand at the State Fair. The earlier version of the stand was truly much more labor intense. This stand that offered red and white awnings, cute stools at the counter and inside dining with porcelain dishes marketed three meals per day! Wow! I love hearing stories from this time period about the breakfast crowd, vats of homemade soup and roast beef dinners with all the trimmings. As a child, I can remember this booth. Looking back, it was something that could have easily been in a one of Norman Rockwell’s painting. It had such a hometown feel, and the bustle inside and out was inviting.
Over the years, the First Lutheran Booth has been reduced in size, and this also includes the menu. Delicious roast beef dinners are no longer served but the tradition of making pies completely from scratch has continued. After taking a year off due to COVID 19 the pie rollers, apple peelers, strawberry hullers, peach blanchers, rhubarb dicers, sour cream raisin stirrers and magicians with the lemon meringue were more than ready to step onto the start line. Laurie Jenson is the one who volunteers to put this pie puzzle together. She understands how to extract just the right person for each job; she can stir throngs of volunteers in the kitchen in the early morning hours and the yield each day is rows of delicious homemade pie. She continues the tradition of training a new generation of pie enthusiasts.
As we work, we visit and this is perhaps one of the deluxe benefits of being part of the “Holy Rollers” pie crust division. I have always appreciated the long view many of my fellow pie crust rollers have to offer. They have raised their children, been long time employed, lived through two floods, graduated from Minot State University, taught in small towns, admired the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, and speak of lovely ladies who once sold Princess House Glassware. They all have been through the thick and thin of life and still press on with a smile, a sense of humor – but best of all, they share recipes and cooking tips.
To be fair, I must state that there are pie rollers that are coming to the butcher block counter who are young! This is inspiring because they are willing to give of their time for a cause that reaches well beyond First Lutheran Church. Surely, they have silently heard the seasoned pie rollers tell “If we want to be good to ourselves, we must first be good to others.” You ask how is this accomplished? Many of these volunteers upon finishing rolling joined others who were at the church preparing for the soup kitchen.
It has been these little daily kindnesses that come with smiles that keep me coming back to rolling pie crusts for the food stand at the fair. My sojourn to the pie roller counter has been an educational, fun and it reinforces this life lesson – when we are willing to work in harmony with other people much can be accomplished.
I didn’t leave these sessions without gathering a fine recipe. Clarice Anderson, who rolls her pie crust perfectly on a floured dishtowel gave me this recipe for rhubarb cake. She and husband, Charlie, both take turns at making it. For you dish enthusiasts, the dessert is featured on dinnerware by Royal in the “The Old Curiosity Shop” pattern. It is a fun pattern that features Colonial time scenes and has furniture hinges and handles design on the rim.
Bless our neighbor up the street who offers us rhubarb. Beneath the large ruffled green leaves of her rhubarb patch stood stalks of strawberry columns pinstriped in green. Each one saying “take me.” Pie crust and rhubarb offer these parables: life is better when we “roll” for a cause and take “stalk” in sharing with others. We open ourselves to life’s best enrichment.
By Clarice Anderson
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter
7 tablespoons powdered sugar
Pat into a 9 x 13 pan and bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
Mix in a bowl until creamy:
3 eggs-slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
8 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
4 cups of chopped rhubarb over the baked crust.
Pour the filling over the rhubarb
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup flour
Crumble over the top and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.