I’m spending the long Canada Day weekend at my sister’s 140 year old home in Almonte near Ottawa. Last night we went to her potluck book club meeting. Our contributions included several dishes made using previous recipes from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book and one new recipe Rhubarb and Green Currant Pie. It’s a recipe contributed by Mrs. H. Rathman and a good choice while rhubarb continues in season . The Beet Salad recipe from Day 1 and the Porto Rican Stuffed Dates from Day 199 continue to stand the test of time. We altered the Sweet Potato Croquets recipe from Day 280 to make it a casserole.
There’s a curious detail missing in the recipe for Rhubarb and Green Currant Pie — it doesn’t include green currants in the body of the recipe!! Not having access to green currants I decided to skip this part of the recipe and make it a rhubarb pie. My first step was to go out in the rain to my sister’s garden and pick some rhubarb. It is best to pull rhubarb rather than cut it but it was so wet outside I nearly pulled out the entire plant. I had to twist the stalks off instead. I brought the stalks into the old fashioned kitchen and cut off the leaves and ends and gave them a quick rinse. I chopped the rhubarb finely and discovered I needed just two stalks of the very large rhubarb to reach 1 1/2 cups.
As regular readers know, I have trouble making pastry, so I opted for a premade frozen pie shell since I was serving this untested recipe to strangers. Hopefully, they could eat the crust if the rest of the pie was awful. This is not a luxury available to the women of Berlin in 1906. They either mastered the art of pastry or everyone grew accustomed to their terrible crusts.
I put the chopped rhubarb in the pie shell and then mixed the other ingredients in a bowl. I cracked one large egg into the bowl and whisked it slightly before adding the 3/4 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of flour. After mixing well, I decided it would be better to include the rhubarb as the mixture was quite thick and it might be difficult to spread evenly over the rhubarb. I stirred in the rhubarb and then spooned the mixture into the pie shell. I baked the pie in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. I discovered part way through baking that my sister’s oven temperature is higher than indicated so the pie probably baked for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees and another 15 at 350 degrees. Once the pie crust was brown and the top of the pie was golden, we packed it up to take to the pot luck supper. I looked forward to tasting it. We opted not to add the merinque on top.
Mrs. H. Rathman was one of the older contributors to the Berlin Cook Book. Catherine (Kathrine) Kraemer was born in 1845 so she was 21 years old when Canada officially became a country in 1867. Both her parents were born in France (probably an area that switched between France and Germany). She married German born Herman(n) Rathman sometime before 1865. They had four children and in 1911 Herman and Catherine lived at 91 Frederick Street in Berlin Ontario with their 33 year old daughter. Catherine died suddenly in December 1919 at the age of 73 of a cerebral embolus.
All the dishes we brought to the potluck were well received and there wasn’t a crumb left of the Rhubarb and Green Currant Pie despite it’s unappealing appearance. The pie filling was quite liquid so I think it might need a little more baking or leave it to sit and cool instead of trying to transport it right away. The meringue would hide any imperfections on the top surface. Several book club members really liked the pie.
Rhubarb and Green Currant Pie
Mrs. H. Rathman
Mix 1 egg, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon flour. Cut 1 1/2 cups rhubarb in small pieces, line a pie plate with paste, put in the above mixture and bake. Make a frosting of the whites of 2 eggs and return to the oven for a few minutes.