July 28, 2009

Wine & Pie

The Land of Limbo belongs exclusively to the separated-but-not-quite-divorced. And it is a strange, strange place. One of the strangest things about it is that you firmly believe you're stuck there all by your lonesome. This is ironic, because you know for a fact there's at least one other resident - that being the person to whom you are now not-yet-unmarried. Not that you want to talk with him about it, even under the most amicable of circumstances.

Which is how we come to wine and pie. And yes, there's a recipe in here ... two actually. Keep reading. We'll get to them. ("What?" you gasp. "She's talking about food? I totally forgot she did that.")

I am fortunate enough to have a large number of friends who love me to pieces and have been looking for an excuse to show it. One of these friends, when he saw me heading off into Limbo Land, realized he had two other friends who were living there too. He introduced us to each other. And now the three of us are also friends, tied together by the strangeness of our circumstances and by the fact that we happen to like each other. Our kids like each other, too. Coolness all around.

Last weekend, we got together with two other Limbo Land residents for an evening of wine, pie, and catharsis.

It was not all about the dessert. We kicked off the evening with a MiddleSouthEasternAsian smorgasbord that included homemade tahini hummus, spicy chick pea masala, green salad with feta, and a fragrant cinnamon beef and chicken and rice dish. There was also a big mess of tabouleh made with such dedication and commitment that every single leaf of parsley and mint was chopped by hand. I know this because I did all that chopping myself and my forearms still ache ... yes I own a food processor ... clearly I was not in my right mind. The tabouleh could have used a good bit more lemon. But it wasn't bad, considering I was winging the recipe from memory because the dog ate my recipe cards. That, however, is a story for another day. Tabouleh recipe is below (and if you can figure out what it was missing - I suspect it was more than just the lemon - please share).

All that food? It was just the appetizer. The whole point of the evening was wine and pie. You put those two things together and you have something magical. Hence the catharsis. Give anyone enough sugar and alcohol and they'll have epiphanies they didn't even know they needed.

For me, pie comes once a year at Thanksgiving. I make an apple crunch pie that I found in an issue of Family Circle waaaaay back in the mid-1990s and have made every year since. It's the only pie I make.

In honor of wine and pie night, though, I ventured outside of my apple-y comfort zone and made a strawberry-rhubarb pie. With fresh rhubarb. I've eyed it at the grocery store countless times and never done a damn thing with it. But it's good stuff, that rhubarb. Pretty and pink and tart. Recipe is below.

My pie was served side-by-side with our hostess's Hershey Bar pie, a decadent mash-up of almond Hershey bars, marshmallows (I think?), Cool Whip and two other ingredients that I really wish I could remember right now. Even my kids liked that one. And they think pie is for sissies.

Gotta tell you - it's worth living in Limbo Land just for the food.


The Dog Ate My Tabouleh
  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1 bunch of scallions, green parts and all, thinly sliced
  • 2 bunches of parsley, chopped fine (take my advice and use the food processor)
  • 2 packs of mint (about 1/2 c when chopped - hey, if you drop it in the food processor with the parsley, you'll really be cooking!)
  • 1 seedless English cucumber, peeled (mostly) and diced
  • 4-6 tomatoes with actual flavor, seeded and diced
  • The juice of 4 lemons. I only had 2. Use 4. Or more. Lemon is good.
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Cook the bulgur according to package directions, drain (I squeezed mine out in a kitchen towel) and cool. Mince the garlic, then plop it in a cup and pour the olive oil over it. Set it aside to give the oil a chance to get all infused and garlicky (I squeezed in a lemon, too, though I'm not sure that added anything). Do allllllll that chopping. Or processing. Your call. Mix the parsley, mint, cucumber and tomatoes in a big bowl. Fluff the bulgur with a fork and drop it in. Squeeze in the lemons, add in the olive oil and garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix it all up, then let sit for an hour or so to let the flavors blend.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (The Cheater's Version)
  • 4 c trimmed rhubarb, sliced about 1/2 inch thick (about 1 1/2 lbs if you're buying it fresh - though frozen will do)
  • 1 lb (16 oz) strawberries, hulled and cut in half (my diva cut the strawberries - girl's got mad skills with a paring knife)
  • 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c cornstarch (though I'm thinking tapioca might work better)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • One refrigerated Pillsbury pie crust (that's the cheating part - if you want to go whole hog, find a good two-crust recipe and make it instead)
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the first eight ingredients (everything through the salt) in a big bowl and mix gently. Place one pie crust in the bottom of your pie pan and spoon the filling into it, spreading it out evenly. Lay out the other pie crust on a floured board and slice it into 1/2 inch strips. Lay the strips across the filling in a lattice pattern. Trim dough ends even with the overhang on the bottom crust, then fold strip ends and overhang under, seal, and crimp. Brush the yolk and water mixture over the crust. Sprinkle with sugar. Transfer pie to baking sheet and bake at 400 F for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 350 F, cover pie with foil to keep crust from overbrowning, and bake for 1 hour 25 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool. Enjoy with Cool Whip, wine and friends.


  1. Amen, sister, on the all-around benefits of Wine & Pie Night. And yes, there are marshmallows in the Hershey Bar Pie.

  2. I thought I remembered the marshmallows right. Yum. Now *that* was pie!