Strawberries are the fruit of spring. They are the sweet little gems that ripen with the first of the warmth and sunshine after the long cold winter. While strawberries are the obvious star of the early spring season, rhubarb is their ideal compliment. When the long, tart stalks of rhubarb get cooked down with sugar and strawberries you experience the perfection of strawberry and rhubarb as a pair. There’s no better way to enjoy this perfect pair than wrapped in a tender flaky gluten free pie crust as a strawberry rhubarb galette.
The classic pairing of strawberries and rhubarb will always remind me of my big sister and my Grandma. This flavor combination takes me back to when I was just a small child. My Grandma would often take us out for a slice of pie to this place called Baker’s Square. The first time she took us there I was overwhelmed by all of the choices of pie, so I looked to my big sister for some trusted advice on what to get. My big sister and my grandma both chose strawberry rhubarb. When I asked them what rhubarb was, neither of them really knew how to explain it to me, but their confidence in knowing that is what they wanted made me comfortable to order the same. The slices of pie arrived at our table and I could not wait to try my slice of strawberry rhubarb. I was extremely pleased, the balance of sweet and sour had me totally hooked. While I still did not really understand what rhubarb was, I walked away from that slice of pie understanding that I loved strawberry and rhubarb. This flavor memory would remain with me for the rest of my life.
As an adult, I finally learned what rhubarb actually was and every spring I look forward to its arrival at the markets so that I can recreate the flavors that I fell in love with when I was just a child. Rhubarb’s arrival happens to coincide with Mother’s Day, which is an extremely difficult and bittersweet day for me, as I am estranged from the three women that had maternal influence in my life – my grandma, my mom and my big sister. There are only a handful of people who really understand all of the details and drama as to what led to these relationships deteriorating to this point and I would have to write a novel to impart full understanding to all of you who are reading this post. I had to separate myself from them in order to preserve my own sanity and keep my life peaceful. I have found a way to live without them, but I would never say that I am happy with the way things are. I would love to have real, honest, trusting relationships with the women of my family, but I have had to accept that it is not possible at this time.
Though Mother’s Day is difficult for me, I find comfort in food. Food has a way of connecting us to people and moments, it is like a time machine. It is the foundation of so many of my memories. Strawberry and rhubarb will forever remind me of my grandma and my big sister when I was young at heart, when I used to look up to them. When I was too young to understand the discord and the drama that plagues my family like a curse and that has left our hearts torn apart.
On this day when people are celebrating the women of their life, I choose to celebrate as well. I choose to celebrate the life that I have been given. Even in the midst of extreme difficulty, I cannot help but have immense gratitude. I will eat a slice of strawberry rhubarb galette made with vanilla lavender sugar, topped with whipped creme fraiche and pineapple guava blossoms. As the flavors fill my mouth, I will remember sitting in a booth at Baker’s Square with my grandma and my big sister. I will be thankful for the sweet memories I have of them. I will pray that somehow life will turn out in a way that we can once again sit at the same table and with free hearts, we will unconditionally love each other. I will look at my hubby, my soulmate and be filled with all of the unconditional love and acceptance he has shown me. I will look at my two dogs and vow to be the best doggy mommy that I can be.
Strawberries and rhubarb are like my life. My life has been filled with sweet times and sour times, but the blend of both of these is what has made my life what it is today and I am truly grateful for all of it. If it was not for the struggles and the relationships that sour, I would not appreciate the good times and the sweetness of those who truly love me, as much as I do now.
- Pie dough (enough for a single crust)
- 1lb strawberries
- 1/2 lb rhubarb stalks (the leaves are poisonous)
- 1/2 cup lavender vanilla sugar (we used Meso Nutso Lavender Vanilla Sugar from Hatchery)
- 1 tbsp arrowroot starch (or substitute cornstarch)
- 1/2 tsp dried lavender
- 1 egg yolk - lightly beaten
- lavender vanilla sugar for sprinkling
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbsp vanilla lavender sugar
- 1/3 cup creme fraiche (we used Bellwether Farms Creme Fraiche)
- Remove your pie crust from the refrigerator & let it sit at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes
- Cut rhubarb into 1" pieces, put in a bowl & add the sugar to the rhubarb. Stir & let the sugar soak into the rhubarb while you roll the pie crust & prep the strawberries
- Hull the strawberries & slice them into 1/4 slices (this is what we use to slice our strawberries)
- Pre-heat the oven to 375f degrees
- Roll your pie crust into a 12" round & slide pie crust onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet
- Add the strawberries, lavender & arrowroot starch to the rhubarb & sugar, stir until well combined
- Spoon the filling onto the pie crust leaving about a 2-3" border
- Gently press on the filling to compact it a bit & then carefully fold up the edges of the crust over the filling
- Brush the crust with beaten egg yolk & sprinkle the galette with lavender vanilla sugar
- Bake galette for 40 minutes, remove from oven & let cool to room temperature
- Whip heavy cream with sugar until very soft peaks
- Add creme fraiche and whip until soft peaks
- Serve each slice of cooled galette with a dollop of creme fraiche whipped cream & edible flower blossoms
- We used pineapple guava blossom petals for garnish, if you can find some you will be delighted by their sweet marshmallow like flavor