Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pentecost Red: Rhubarb Pie

Just out of seminary, my husband and I moved to Scottsdale, Arizona… he to serve a church in the area, and me, to serve as the regional minister of youth and children’s programming… which meant, among other things, that I coordinated our summer camping program. 

Now for those of you who have grown up in an area where you enjoyed camping as a family… count yourselves lucky.  Ten years of Girl Scouts turned me into a fire building machine… but they were skills lost upon the folks of Arizona, as most of those kids that came to camp, had never even seen an open flame, let alone sung songs around a campfire or given God thanks for the sweet gooey goodness that is a s’more.  And all that’s because, the entire state of Arizona is under some level of fire danger at any given time, during the hottest months of the year.
The church camp was about 3 hours north of Phoenix, nestled in the midst of an area of Arizona, that was part coniferous forest and part desert… as many lovely, awe inspiring evergreen trees populating the sky as there were unique and awkward cacti at your feet.  And as the summer drew on and the days between rain events grew… 22 days, 36 days, 54 days… both the evergreens and the cacti would strain under the desire to draw what little moisture might be in the dry ground, upward, with little success.  And each summer… those of us in leadership at camp, spent a good portion of our time, tied to the local news radio, monitoring which way the mighty rush of wind might blow… and if it would bring with it, tongues of fire.

The youth that gathered at that camp, were thankfully, almost always blissfully unaware of this threat of wind and fire in their midst. They would run and play, and sing song at the dinner table, make new friends, flirt with another, and reconnect with old friends whose lives only intersected once a year.   

But one summer, as bags were being packed and the final day of camp was winding to a close…  the winds… they changed. And were bringing with them, fire.  Suddenly, tearful goodbyes, turned into tears of fear.  Parents rushed up the mountain towards the camp, praying they would make it back home before the roads closed. Leaders allowed cell phones to be out as boy and girl alike, made frantic calls to loved ones who were waiting in church parking lots, hoping, praying that their children would be safe and make it home in the church vans that they had entrusted them to...
Group by group, one by one… youth and leaders waved goodbye with worried looks in their eyes.  And I waved back… mirroring their worry, as I waited with the final few youth to find their rides and head home.  Soon, it was just me… and one camper.  Waiting. 

I don’t normally condone a one adult/ one child situation… but this day, it seemed prudent to send the other counselors and adults home, to race the flames that now… though not visible, were making our eyes water and our nose hairs tingle.    
Finally, after what seemed like hours, the girls mother showed… with a quick wave and a mouthed “I’m sorry”… she spewed gravel out behind her wheels in her hurried attempt to outrun…

The wind and fire.
And within minutes, I too was in my car… heading south on the road I had traveled so many times before… when I came to the first barricade.  The flames were dancing across the road now… I could see them.  They were real.  Red, orange, white, and black.  And above it, a red cloud of smoke.   A Fireman motioned for me to turn around… directing me to head North… to go a different way...and I did as I was instructed…

And then I felt it… the heat… the amazing, overwhelming heat.  And the weight upon my chest, like being in a sauna for too long… and that’s when I realize that I was now, driving parallel to a wall of flame.  Just like that… with a simple shift in the wind, the forest full of mile high trees and carpets of cacti, which I had just driven through, was being reduced to charred remnants of what was…

Wind and fire.
“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were gathered together in one place.  And suddenly there came a noise from heaven like a mighty, rushing wind, and it filled the building where they were sitting.  And there appeared something like tongues of fire, distributed to all and resting on each.   And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues, as the Spirit gave them speech.” Acts 2: 1-4

That's Pentecost.  Unpredictable.  Urgent.  Dancing.  Destroying.  Awe-inspiring.  Weighty.

And so, in honor of Pentecost, here's something red (the liturgical color of Pentecost) for you.... Rhubarb Pie.

What you'll need for the crust:
2 Cups almond flour 
1/4 Teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 Egg
What you'll need for the crumble top:
1/2 Cup GF flour mixture
1/4 Cup almond flour
1/3 Cup packed brown sugar
1/2 Teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons butter (cut into bits; if using salted, go ahead and cut the salt back a bit)

What you'll need for the filling:
6 Cups rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 Cup + 1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
2 Tablespoons cornstarch (be aware, this is tricky for some GF an alternative, is arrowroot)

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 350*.  In a food processor, pulse almond flour, coconut oil, salt and egg together until it starts to come together and form a ball. Press the crust into a 9 inch pie pan firmly; this isn't a crust like your granny used to's not pretty, but it'll get it done.  Then bake it at 350* for about 8-10 minutes or just until it starts to brown.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. With your hands, a pastry blender, or if you're lazy like me, your paddle attachment on your Kitchen Aid, work the butter into the dry ingredients until clumps form. Keep this chilled until you're ready to use it.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine the rhubarb, sugar, cornstarch and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss well to evenly coat the rhubarb with the dry ingredients. Transfer this mixture to the pie shell.  Swoon over how pretty it is.  Scatter the crumble mixture evenly over the top of the pie.

Bake until the rhubarb is bubbling and the crust is browned, about one hour. If the crust browns too quickly, cover loosely with foil. Cool completely (or at the very least, until you can't stand it anymore) before serving.

This is my first time EVER, to make rhubarb anything....and I LOVED IT!!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did...all two, extra large helpings.  With ice cream.  And an extra spoonful, when I was putting it away tonight (you GOTTA clean the spoon off).

Oh, who am I kiddin'.  I had three helpings and I liked it.

Tomorrow's another day to find the gym....

Might the Spirit surprise you today.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Snow Days: Cutie Cake

I mentioned that my husband and I are doing this elimination diet, right?
Well, we're still on it.  (We cheated one, really cheated with butter and sugar and maybe even some wheat flour*...and decided just to start over.  It's better for us and we feel more energetic and blah, blah, blah...)
This past weekend we had one of those rare winter May...where neither of us had anything to do and it was snowing/sleeting/freezing, so we stayed in our sweats all weekend and watched DVR'd episodes of The Following and Modern Family. And ate Cuties.  Like a three pound bag, in two days.  For the second time, since we started this food-body exploration.
They are our addiction.
My guess is, when your fingers are stained've had one too many.  Interventions are forthcoming.
But until then, here's a Cutie Cake. Because I gotta get my Cuties however I can and I hear that the quickest, easiest way to get the Cuties into your system is through baked goods.  And your parents won't ever even know. 
What you'll need:
6 Eggs
1/4 Cup coconut oil (melted)
1/4 Cup + 1 Tablespoon coconut milk
2 Tablespoons raw honey
Juice from 2 Cuties
Zest from 2 Cuties
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 Cup coconut flour
1/4 (+/-) Cup shredded coconut
1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon salt
2 More Cuties for the juice
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease an 8x8 pan with coconut oil or line it with parchment paper.  I wrestle with parchment paper for some reason.  And, I like any way that will allow me to add more fat to my cooking. Mix the eggs, coconut milk, honey, juice, vanilla, orange zest and coconut oil together.  Add in the coconut flour, coconut, baking powder and salt.  When well combined, pour the batter into your greased pan and bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  But be careful not to can get a little dry. Then, while it's still warm, go ahead and juice two more Cuties on top of the whole thing!  And enjoy!

* That little asterisk, is for a peculiar turn of events.  We attended an event called Forks and Corks, where restaurants from all over the KC Metro area come out, serve their best stuff, and all the proceeds go to a local food bank.  We go every year.  It's a blast, but not really one of those events where you can take your time and ask each chef what each item, is made with (flour, corn, etc.).  So, I always load up on meds, inhalers, and Tums and take my chances (I'm not reckless...I don't eat pastries or pasta, but you never know what's tucked into something).  Anyway, I accidentally ate a large spoonful of cake (not realizing what I was ingesting) and....I didn't react.  I think this elimination diet is allowing my body, in all of its inflamed ways, to chill enough, that small doses...I might be able to incorporate wheat back in to my diet someday?  I don't know?  does that just sound like "bad science?"  We'll see.  Fingers crossed.