Parents’ 27th Anniversary Dinner, Part 1: Strawberry Rhubarb and Marion Berry Pie

On August 4, 1984, my two wonderful parents began their lives together as husband and wife. They met back in high school and have been happily married for 27 years now. They are the two most amazing people I know and I am so thankful for the wonderful childhood they gave my brother and I. So they definitely deserve a nice dinner. They drooled over the food in the recent episode of No Reservations in Naples and requested I make traditional pizza margarita and an antipasto platter. My parents are not vegan and since it is their day, some of the recipes are not vegan. The things I am going to eat are vegan though. Since I am making quite a few dishes, I decided to break up the recipes into two posts. This first one is the dessert since I made the pies this morning.

Chuckie and Amelia like rhubarb apparently.

My dad requested his favorite thing in the whole world, strawberry rhubarb pie. The filling is vegan, but I suck at pie crusts so I used a Pillsbury one, which is not vegan. And some how I still managed to screw up a pre-made crust. The rim stuck to the foil in the oven for some reason. Not sure how that happened. My mom said it still tastes good, just doesn’t look so pretty. Still pretty good for my first attempt. I picked the rhubarb fresh from my mom’s garden, and my kitties decided to help me. The recipe is based on the one from How to Cook Everything.

For myself, I made a marion berry pie. Marion berries are a caneberry hybrid developed by Oregon State University in the 1940s. They are pretty much just an Oregon version of a blackberry and they are fantastic. They grow wildly all over Oregon now too. They will stain your hands a lovely purple color so be careful. If you can’t get marion berries, you can use blackberries but any Oregonian will tell you they aren’t the same. I also used a pre-made gram cracker crust for this pie too.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
2 pre-made pie crust doughs
2 and 1/2 cups rhubarb, peeled and diced
3 cups strawberries, siced
1 cup sugar, more or less depending on sourness of rhubarb
3 tbs cornstarch

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Wash and slice the strawberries. Add to a large bowl.

Wash and peel the rhubarb. The easiest way to peel is just to pull off the outer tough strings by hand. Just keep pulling off little pieces until you can’t easily grab strings anymore. Dice into small pieces. Add to the large bowl.

Add the sugar and cornstarch, mix together well. Taste for sweetness. If the rhubarb is really sour like mine was, you may need more sugar.

For the crust, unroll the pie crust and fit into the pie pan. Press the dough down well and press the the edges down firmly to seal the crust.

Pour the filling into the pan and smooth so it’s evenly spread.

Cover with the other pie crust.  Seal the edges down once again.

For  some decoration and help the seal, press a fork around the edges.

Cut 4 slits in the center.

Brush the top with some milk and sprinkle on some sugar.

Cover the edges with foil so they don’t burn. 

Bake in the oven at 450 for 10 minutes, then drop down the temperature to 350 and make for 40-50 minutes. Removed the foil the last 10 minutes. It’s done when the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden.

Not sure why the crust came out all weird…

Vegan Marion Berry Pie
1 vegan pre-made gram cracker pie crust
1 pint Marion Berries
4 tbs sugar
1/2 tps ground cloves
1/4 tps fresh grated ginger
1 tbs corn starch
Vegan whip cream

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash the berries and add the to a large bowl.

Add all remaining ingredients, except the crust obviously, and mix together well. Taste for sweetness but ripe marion berries should not be sour.

Pour the filling into the crust and smooth so it’s evenly spread.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until the filling is no longer jiggly.

Top with vegan whip cream, and garnish with some more berries or mint.

Almond whip spread and mint from my mom’s garden.

I have been craving a marion berry pie for awhile now, should be delicious! And I know my dad will be happy when he sees his pie too. More posts to come, but here is another pic of my cats “helping” me in the garden.

So cute, even if they do come in all dirty. 

Here Comes Summer: Brats, Fries and Coleslaw

The semester is almost over, which means soon it will be summer. I am staying for summer classes so I will miss the lovely summer back home in Oregon.  So I decided to bring a little of an Oregon summer to me with a Tofurkey brat, sweet potato fries and an light coleslaw.

Tofurkey is made by the Hood River, Oregon-based company Turtle Island Foods Inc, —and one of the best vegan brands out there. Not only is their name-sake product, Tofurkey amazing (even my carnivorous dad and brother look forward to some every Thanksgiving), they also make delicious brats and sausages too. Their Beer Brats are my favorite. They make me think of home because they are made with Full Sail Ale (another fine Oregon product). The texture and taste are perfect, and they are even juicy and sizzle on the grill. I put mine in a whole wheat bun, and topped it with ketchup and mustard. Doesn’t get much more summer-y than a big juicy brat. And you will live to enjoy more summers since this brat has zero cholesterol.

Sweet potatoes are not only sweet, but super as well. They are a superfood, which means they have a lot of vital vitamins and minerals. Sweet potatoes are packed with fiber, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties. I love them in curries and stews, but they make great fries. I have always liked them better than regular fries, especially when seasoned with herbs. They are easy to make, but I had a few Alexia Sweet Potato Julienne Fries in the freezer that needed to be eaten.

I had some cabbage and apple that needed to be eaten as well, so I made a simple light coleslaw. I hated coleslaw as a kid because they were the traditional “more-mayo-than-anything-else” style. I like mayonnaise, just in moderation. Veganaise is hands down the best mayonnaise ever, vegan or otherwise. Please try it, it’s soooooo creamy. I sadly don’t have any Veganaise so I used Annie’s Goddess Dressing. I also suggest adding raisins, nuts, and carrots to the coleslaw for some sweetness and crunch.

Not only is this meal delicious and healthy, it is also easy. The only hard part is waiting for the coleslaw to chill. This is proof that healthy food can be fast food.

Here Comes Summer Dinner:
Light Coleslaw:
2 cups cabbage, shredded (any kind is fine, I used Chinese)
1 large red apple, chopped (I used golden delicious)
1/2 to 1 cup, depending on taste, Annie’s Goddess Dressing
1 tbs sesame seeds
1/2 tbs mirin
salt and pepper to taste

Brats and Fries:
Frozen Sweet Potato Fries
Garlic salt
Tofurkey Beer Brats
Whole wheat hoagie rolls (the brats are too big for a simple hot dog bun)
Plenty of ketchup, mustard or other condiments

Sweet, crispy, and a little tangy.

To make the coleslaw, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until the cabbage is thoroughly coated. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. I made mine the night before. Makes about 4 servings.

 Actual serving size. Don’t let your eyes fool you, it was plenty.

Cook your fries according to the directions on the package. Or, you can always make your own. To cut down on fat, use cooking spray instead of oil to grease your cooking tray. Sprinkle with garlic salt for a nice contrasting flavor to the sweetness.

I fed one of these to an ex once and he had no idea it was tofu.

I microwaved my brat for one minute, but they do come out better on the grill. See the package for proper cooking instructions.

Pop the brat into the bun and top with as much ketchup, mustard or any other condiments you like.

Plate up your brat, a serving of fries, and generous scoop of slaw and enjoy a little taste of summer (and Oregon!)

Glass of Reed’s Cherry Ginger Brew and Animal House
to re-live my UO days, can’t believe it’s almost been a
year since I graduated!

After I left the store, I realized this would have been a perfect Oregon summer dinner if I made a marion berry pie for dessert, but I didn’t feel like going back to the store. I will make it for another post soon.