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Grim's Grub: Behind the scenes at the Rhubarb Festival

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It takes a lot of volunteers a lot of work to put on the annual Summerfest Rhubarb Festival. Travis Grimler/Echo Journal 2 / 2

Pine River Summerfest offers a lot of festivities during the last week of July. There's a car show, live music, vendors, an art show and the annual parade. My personal favorites are the book sale and the Our Lady of Lourdes Rhubarb Festival.

Yvonne Switajewski, with the Rhubarb Festival, told me it has been going on for approximately 10 years, with all the pies being produced at the church in the last three to four years. This year over 400 pies were baked and sold, with some going piece-by-piece, some being sold whole and others being made to order.

The folks at the festival work almost feverishly to sell pies fresh out of the oven. The smell is incredible.

For a little treat, I decided to do a behind-the-scenes video of this wonderful festival. Watch online to see the volunteers in action as they put together blueberry rhubarb pie based on a rhubarb/strawberry pie recipe found in the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church Rhubarb Cookbook from 2009. This happens to be one of my favorite local cookbooks, so I didn't even need to buy a copy to feature it this week. I already owned one!

There is one thing missing, however - that is Switajewski's own pie crust, which was used at the festival this year. It turns out the pie crust is made from her own secret recipe, so it's not in the book. Maybe she shared it on camera; you'll have to watch to find out.

The other recipes are also drawn from the rhubarb cookbook. Enjoy!

Not Yvonne's Secret Pie Crust

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4-5 tablespoons ice water

Mix together dry ingredients and then use a pastry blender, two forks or two knives to cut together the dry ingredients and butter until it looks like crumbs. Mix in water by hand 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture holds together in a somewhat dry ball. Form into a ball and knead lightly (too much kneading will ruin the texture). Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate an hour.

On a floured surface, roll out dough after an hour to make a pie crust. Double this recipe for a top and bottom crust.

Rhubarb/Strawberry (or Blueberry) Pie

  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup berries
  • 2 ½ cups rhubarb
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 pie crusts

In a bowl, mix together all filling ingredients save for butter. Line a pie pan with crust, overlapping the edges. Pour filling into crust. Cut butter into smaller chunks and spread relatively evenly across the filling. Put the second crust on top and crimp the two crusts together. Bake at 450 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until the crust is crisp.

Strawberry-Rhubarb "Roll Ups"

  • 1 cup rhubarb, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 cups strawberries
  • ½ cup sugar

Combine the finely chopped rhubarb and water. Simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Add strawberries and sugar. Simmer another 5 minutes. Puree the mixture until smooth in a blender or food processor. Dehydrate in a dehydrator or oven.

To dry in an oven, set the temperature at its lowest possible setting and place the mixture on parchment paper. Dry until the texture resembles leather - dry but pliable. Remove and roll while warm.

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