Rhubarb is back in the produce department! To me, it is one of those signals that spring is on its way. It may not be growing around here, but somewhere down south it’s getting warmer and that warmth is making its way up north. When I was growing up, there was a spot in the garden where the rhubarb grew—you’d forget it was supposed to be there in the late fall and winter and then those great big, umbrella leaves would appear in the spring, and then you’d remember.
In the summer, my dad would put up the tent in our back yard and my friend Judy and I would sleep outside. We’d go down to the garden, cut stalks of rhubarb and bring them back to our tent to eat raw–dipped into a bowl of sugar to tame the sour. Anyone who has ever eaten raw rhubarb knows how that makes your teeth feel! Nevertheless, it was a beloved tradition of ours. My mom would make pies from all of the fruit in our yard and she was well known for them. I however did not like pie. I made an exception for her wonderful rhubarb pie with the lattice top. I like pie now. A lot. This is still my favorite pie.
I have not included a pie crust recipe here. My mom used all shortening and I use a mixture of butter and shortening. With this recipe, I have even been known to use Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Dough because it makes doing the lattice very easy. Speaking of lattice, it’s mostly a matter of common sense, sort of like a little puzzle. Start by laying the strips down in the middle of the pie and figure it out from there!
Mom’s Rhubarb Custard Pie
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups rhubarb, cut into ½-inch slices
2 pie crusts, one for the bottom, one for the lattice top
Beat first 4 ingredients together and add rhubarb. Spoon into unbaked 8-inch pie crust and top with ½-inch strips of pie dough placed in a lattice pattern. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes. Turn oven down to 350°F and bake for another 45 minutes, loosely covering the top with foil if starting to brown too much.