Can she bake a berry pie?

thToday was a true Sabbath: We kicked back and  didn’t do anything we didn’t want to do. In fact, DF and I didn’t leave the property once he’d returned home from early Mass.

It was a day for naps, a bit of gardening in between rain squalls, reading and eating stuff from our own yard: cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, raspberries and rhubarb.

It was also a day for pie. Although I love the confection dearly I rarely make it. Today I decided pie was the perfect way to get rid of some of last year’s raspberries, some of this year’s rhubarb and all the blueberries that DF got in prison.

All the best stories include the word “prison” in them, don’t they?


He was not incarcerated, but rather a guest at the women’s prison potlatch. Which sounds like the beginning of another great story, but it isn’t: His dance troupe performed there and everyone was sent home with gifts and leftover food. In his case that included a chunk of blueberries that had apparently already been part of another dessert; they were kind of lumpy and weird.

But who would notice if the fruit were mixed in with two other* types? I found a recipe for raspberry-rhubarb pie and tinkered it a bit, adding the weirdberries and additional cinnamon. (A quarter of a teaspoon for an entire pie? Just didn’t sound right.)

I also par-baked the bottom crust for about 10 minutes so that it wouldn’t get soggy from all the juices. Since I couldn’t then crimp a top crust onto the now-hot bottom pie pan, I added four large pieces of pastry atop the filling and called it good.


Tomato, tomahto

In fact, I called it better than good: It was delicious, especially served with French vanilla ice cream. As Truvy put it in “Steel Magnolias,” the ice cream helped to cut the sweetness.

To leave room for that much dessert I’d had a very light supper: a serving of green beans I’d picked an hour before, and a sandwich made of boiled egg and our own cucumber and tomato slices on toasted fancy bread that DF bought on Wednesday to celebrate our first tomatoes of the season.

Which varieties were Stupice and Black Prince. The Black Prince, which is actually a brownish-reddish-green, tasted sweet and savory like the tomatoes of my youth. Normally I’m wary of any love apple that isn’t bright red, but these were exquisite. Can’t wait to have a taste test between Black Prince and the Cherokee Purples, once they ripen.

I love our home-built greenhouse, which also houses Patio, Czech’s Bush, Tumbling Tom, Supersweet 100 and an unknown variety (tag fell off at the greenhouse) that DF calls the Hail Mary. The greenhouse is also thick with cucumber vines that stretch from the waist-high shelf to the eight-foot roof. And, just for fun, three popcorn plants. I doubt they’ll set ears, but it’s a hoot to watch them grow.

I also love that most of these were started from seed saved from last year’s crop, and that so many of them survived we had to put a dozen or so outdoors. They’re all doing great thanks to the unseasonably warm, sunny weather. This summer has made me think of that bumper sticker you sometimes see around town: “Alaskans For Global Warming.”


Make time to make pie

But back to dessert. Wish I’d taken a picture, because it turned out beautifully browned and with a thick red syrup bubbling over the edges of the pan as I set it on a rack to cool. If I were to take a photo now the fresh-from-the-oven effect wouldn’t be there. Neither would a big chunk of the pie.

It was so nice to have a lazy Sunday, with the leisure to cook something special that took time and kitchen space. Harvesting the rhubarb, green beans and tomato during lulls in the rain was lovely because the air smelled so good. (Hint: No more smoke.) I also killed some slugs (ick) and stripped some Asian greens from their mostly spawned-out stalks to add to the boiling bag.

I made extra dough in order to bake some piecrust cutouts sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar – one of DF’s favorite things, and fairly easy to do. Yet finding time to make pie doesn’t happen very often, though, which I guess is the point of this post.

Make time for the stuff you really enjoy. Make it a point to slow down now and then. And make sure to have French vanilla ice cream on hand when you do. Who wants a too-sweet pie?

*Rhubarb is technically a vegetable. Nobody really believes that, though.


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  1. DF has a dance troupe? I wonder why this is news to me. Can you point me to a post about this or explain to me.

    Pie is good! I like the soggy crust. You could have fluted the bottom crust before you baked it. Do you put butter on the top crust and sprinkle with sugar? I always do that and love that part best along with the innards of the pie soaked into it. I suppose it is sort of like the parts of crust you bake for DF.

    • Donna Freedman

      I did flute the bottom crust before baking. But if I’d tried to flute more crust on top I figured it would have gotten weird, i.e., cold crust touching hot product. I dot the filling with butter before I put on the top crust and did not sprinkle with sugar, but that sounds so good I will probably do it next time.

      DF is in an Eskimo dance troupe. I’ve mentioned it on occasion but haven’t gone into great detail in order to protect his privacy (and that of his fellow dancers).

  2. Debbie

    Wonderful post!

  3. Amazing how something simple like baking a pie or making a home cooked meal can really ground you and bring back a sense of calm! To hot here to turn on the oven though! We are having fun with strawberry/blueberry smoothies and “cold” foods – and experimenting with grilling veggies! (And yes, rhubarb is a vegetable…)

  4. Lisa O

    Sounds like a perfect Sunday to me! We had steak on the grill, fresh green beans from our garden, and I did a baked tomato (not from the garden) with salt/pepper/fresh oregano (from the garden) and cheese. It was really pretty good. Our desert was an apple/banana/cinnamon/ walnut cake I made on Friday night to get rid of aging fruit.

    Have A Nice Day!

  5. jestjack

    I’m experiencing “tomato envy”….We had a crazy Spring here and everything seems a bit behind. My tomatoes are over 4 feet high, beautiful foliage, plenty of blossoms… but no harvest yet. As for slugs, I will share what I learned this year. I had four oblong planters left over from a rental. Filled them full of dirt…..soil….and planted my 10 cent leaf lettuce from the $-Store. Put them on a table in the back patio and they have done wonderful….like “State Fair Blue Ribbon” lettuce wonderful. First harvest was within 18 days. Usually when I plant these on the ground the slugs gravitate to them and no matter how much beer I put down in lids…the slugs win. Not this year…My lettuce sits on a table about 3 feet off the ground…It appears slugs are afraid of heights! Haven’t had A slug in the lettuce….Who knew?

    • Donna Freedman

      All our tomatoes and cukes are containerized, in the greenhouse. Most of the rest is in raised beds, which thus far have not been entered by slugs. We did get a four-pack of “orphan lettuce” (unsold, root-bound starts from the greenhouse) for a buck in early June that we put in the regular ground. Although I found slugs on the green beans yesterday none have attacked the lettuce because DF surrounded the greens with a protective circle of Sluggo.

      It was frugal Sluggo, too: The product came from the transfer station “store,” where people leave products they don’t want. We’ve found a lot of good stuff there, including but not limited to WD40, spray starch, English Oil, stain remover and paint.

      As for the tomatoes: Can’t wait for them to begin producing in earnest. Those plants have a ton of fruit on them.

  6. Lake Livin'

    Well now I guess I need to visit Anchorage again so I can try some of that pie! 😃

  7. Aunt Leesie

    After several years, our blackberry bush finally started producing. So far I’ve filled a gallon zip top bag that’s tucked into the freezer. I’ve got another gallon bag of blueberries (bought at 99 cents per pint), and strawberries are coming onto season, so I’ll watch for a sale on those. I’m pitiful with pie crust, but make a mean cobbler!

    • Donna Freedman

      When I lived in Seattle I froze numerous quarts of blackberries because they were just everywhere. On hot August nights I would put a bunch of frozen berries in the blender with a little sugar and some milk and pulse until it was a smoothie/sorbet. Yum. I still miss those berries, and the jam that I’d make with them.

  8. teinegurl

    oh man I cant make a pie but this sounds utterly delicious!!

    • Donna Freedman

      I found today that I liked it even more by itself, i.e., nothing distracted me from the fruit taste. Turned out it wasn’t too sweet after all. 😉

  9. Catseye

    Donna, you need to quit it because I’m about to lose my mind over that pie! ;o)
    I sure miss the tomatoes Uncle Jay used to give me out of his garden. He died back in 2002, a year before mom. *sigh* Home grown tomatoes always make me think of him.

  10. And aren’t tomatoes technically fruits? Remember my first taste of rhubarb – my dad cut off a stalk and handed it to my then ten-year-old self and said take a bite!!! Couldn’t believe the same stuff makes such good pies.

    • Diane C

      This reminds me of a great line that paraphrases like so: Knowledge is knowing that tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

      Thank you for that vicarious Prisonberry Pie, Charming Billy, er, Donna.

  11. Simka Johnson

    Donna, Reddi Whip or another aerosol whipped topping, hides a multitude of pin ‘sins’. When I make a crust that breaks, or doesn’t go far enough, whipped cream it is. Nobody even notices!

  12. Simka Johnson

    nor pin, pie. AND lots of jam can cover pie booboos, too. I must be a bad pie maker cause I know how to fix em when they break!

  13. Make Do Mom

    From now on I’ll think of that filling combo as Prison Berry Pie. It sounds fabulous!

  14. oh lordy now I crave rhubarb pie. And it is too d***ed hot to bake. [sob]

    • Donna Freedman

      Possible workaround:
      1. Search for “microwave rhubarb crisp recipe.”

      2. Make the recipe.

      3. Let it sit until it’s barely warm.

      4. Add lots of vanilla ice cream to ameliorate remaining heat.

      There! Fixed it for you!

  15. Sonya Ann

    I can honestly say that I have never heard of prison fruit before. ;p
    It is always an adventure at your place and site.

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