Of Woods and Words: A Tale of Two Pies

Rhubarb pie
Rhubarb pie

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FinalCut_OWW_20100527.mp35.09 MB
When in the kitchen, many people strive to get their recipes tasting just as good as Grandma’s. But my grandmother came from the 1950s generation of working moms and she reveled in the advent of convenience food. She loved her instant potatoes, cake mixes, and Jell-O. She didn’t have time for a whole lot of home cooking. But as much as we laughed at some of her culinary under-achievements, the truth is that she was a good baker and that we all miss her raisin rye bread. So every once in a while, I do find myself faced with a dilemma in the kitchen that only a grandma can solve. Like what to do with the shopping bag filled with rhubarb that magically appeared in my fridge last week.
 
I’m not sure how I end up with a shopping bag overflowing with rhubarb. We seem to be in the business of growing really tiny rhubarb up here at the cabin. The only place the rhubarb in our garden would be an appropriate size is in the front lawn of a dollhouse. Yet there always seems to be someone nearby with way more rhubarb than they know what to do with, and just when I was about to write off this spring as a rhubarb-less one, the shopping bag of rhubarb was thrust at me. It’s one of those springtime miracles. Either that, or rhubarb is to springtime what zucchini is to summer.
 
My grandmother made exceptional homemade rhubarb pie: So good that her son always requested a rhubarb pie in lieu of a birthday cake.
 
And whenever I looked at that rhubarb on the fridge’s lowest shelf, I could taste my grandmother’s rhubarb custard pie. So I decided to make that very pie for a dinner date with my parents.
 
The only issue was that I didn’t actually have a copy of her pie recipe.
 
I tried to call my mother. No answer.
 
Then I looked at where I was standing. This was a cabin in Cook County. While I might not have Grandma’s recipe in my recipe collection, something told me the recipe I was looking still might be lurking in the cookbook cupboard. I grabbed a random recipe box and leafed through the pie section. When I pulled out the rhubarb pie recipe, I found Andy’s grandmother’s name scrawled across the top of the card.  
 
I scanned the ingredients: rhubarb, two eggs, a little flour, a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon . . . . This looked familiar.
 
By the time I found Andy’s grandma’s rhubarb pie recipe, I was running out of time. As soon as the pie came out of the oven, I wrapped it up in tin foil, and headed for my parents’. With a warm pie in my hands and a “Look what I made” on the tip of my tongue, I burst through my parents’ back door. And came face to face with another pie sitting on my mom’s cooling rack. It looked like someone had found Grandma’s rhubarb pie recipe.
 
So it was that there were two pies, from two grandmas. When it comes to an overabundance of rhubarb, grandmas always have just the right recipe. And when it comes to an overabundance of pie, most grandmas would tell you to just “eat some more pie.” So we did, and it seemed the pies tasted almost as good as Grandma’s.
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