Strawberry Rhubarb Pie and Life Updates!

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It’s officially Summer!!! Summer 2016 comes with mixed feelings for me. I can’t help but be reminded of Summer 2015. Last Summer I couldn’t walk around much at all due to knee pain, and I was constantly going to doctor’s appointments to try and figure out what was wrong with me. I missed out on so much fun with my friends last Summer. That, combined with my inability to work at MEC, really changed my life and friend groups! Without being able to be super active, I just didn’t see people as much as I normally would have. It was a sad time for me!

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Photo Cred Carl Ryan

      This is usually what my Summers looked like! With my two besties, doing what we love

Since last Summer I have really improved, though not with the speed I would like. I healed my patellar tendonitis, and then rose to the challenge of rebuilding my completely atrophied leg. I had no idea how hard building from atrophy would be. I honestly thought that as soon as my knee felt better, I would be good to go to pick up my busy and active life. Not the case. At all. Turns out, the last part of my healing journey is in many ways the most challenging and painful. My mom and physio, Jessica Owen, keep reminding me that my muscles have “been on vacation” for the last couple years, or are  “offline”. Now that the muscles are engaging in my left leg again, they are pretty dang cranky. It feels like almost every day I pull or strain new muscle groups. After my workouts or training I never get that good post workout lactic acid burn that often results in delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Instead, my muscles refer pain other places and feel strained. It sucks! My physio says that this amount of muscle pain is basically because i’m so weak that my muscles get easily overwhelmed.

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My aim is to hike at least two times a week, but I have to make sure I don’t hike too long. If I do, the big steps on the hike strain my adductors and it hurts like a bitch! My physio tells me that I am making amazing progress, but I often feel very frustrated with my body. I am sort of ashamed to tell my super active friends the reality of slow muscle building, because my journey feels so lame and slow compared to the awesome trips they are doing! I also see athletic runner girls with muscular quads and am so jealous. To think, girls are always told to want thin thighs…I honestly never thought i’d want mine bigger, but I DO! Without quads, there is so little support for our adductors and hamstrings…and mine are killing me constantly.

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                                                                    I love the Sea to Sky Trail! 

So while my friend groups have changed because my life and activities have changed, I have really enjoyed catching up with other lovely people in my life. I have campfires with my childhood friends, Erica and Brigit, where we eat lots of chocolate and s’mores. I have really enjoyed hanging out with my friends Jayne and Haley, as well as other school friends like Nicole and Alana. It’s been great talking with Alana, because she knows how tough injury rehab can be. My brother’s girlfriend Holly is my new official sidekick and honorary younger sister and Game of Thrones buddy. I met a new awesome person from arcteryx whose name is Brylee, and she is awesome! We have so much in common and are excited to tear up the slopes together this Winter. I also caught up with my friend Monique, who is lovely, and one of my favourite people DENIS! I have also seen my famous makeup artist friend, Leigh! I feel very unglamorous next to her. Side note: Meghan Leblanc, I miss you like CRAZY. I am so excited for you to come to live in BC. So while my life is different, and went off course in a way I wouldn’t have chosen, it has given me the opportunity to take time to enjoy many lovely people in my life.

Other than gymming and hiking and walking, I have been…BAKING! Granola! Cupcakes! Cookies! Yum!

I have been watching the Great British Bake off a lot lately, partly because I love it, and partly because I needed to hone my pastry skills. I have made like 6 pies in the past month. I have finally perfected my recipe, and would love to share it with you now 🙂 Now…pie is tricky, so I will do my best to provide my tips for making a good pie. I hope it works out!

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups (350g) plain/pastry flour
  • 1 cup butter (I like salted)
  • 3/4 cup (140g) icing sugar
  • 3/4 cup (100g) ground almonds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6-8 tbsp cold water
  • 1 egg (for brushing on the crust)

Filling:

  • 5 cups sliced strawberries
  • 5 cups chopped rhubarb (Should be around 1200-1300 g fruit)
  • 1 orange (zested and juiced)
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl combine flour, icing sugar, salt and ground almonds. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
  2. Add 6 tbsp cold water and stir to combine, add more water until the dough comes together. The most important thing with pie dough is to bring the dough together, but not to overwork it. If you handle pie dough too much, the butter will melt and the pastry will be tough.
  3. Gently work the dough until it comes together in a disc. You want it to be wet enough that if you rolled it out it wouldn’t crack, but not too wet. Cut the dough in half and chill in the fridge for 1/2 an hour. When pie dough is well chilled, it’s a lot easier to roll out.
  4. While your dough is chilling, preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare to make your filling.
  5. I prefer to gently cook my filling prior to putting it in my pie. Combine the fruit, cornstarch, the juice and zest of one orange, and the sugar in a large saucepan. Heat the fruit over low-medium heat until the cornstarch has thickened and the fruit has gently softened. Turn off the heat and let rest.
  6. Take one half of your chilled dough out of the fridge. Place a large piece of parchment paper on your table and sprinkle with a bit of flour. Rolling out the dough on parchment is very worth it, because otherwise it will stick to the table. Roll out the dough and transfer to your pie dish. There will probably be some excess around the sides.
  7. This stage is called blind baking. This ensures that the bottom of the pie actually cooks and isn’t soggy. If you don’t do this, it is very likely that the moisture of the fruit will cause the bottom of your pie to be raw. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the pie dough in your pie plate. Fill the pie with rice or baking beans and bake the crust for 25 mins at the bottom of the oven. After 15 minutes in the oven, take the crust out, remove the foil and baking beans, and brush beaten egg over the bottom of the crust. Place back in oven for the last 10 mins. This ensures a barrier against the juices of the fruit leaking into the crust and preventing it from cooking.
  8. While your crust is blind baking, take the other half of the dough out of the fridge and roll it out into the preferred shape for the top of your pie. I really like cutting it into long strips to make a lattice crust, and using little cookie cutters in a flower shape, to place over parts of the lattice to make a decoration. You can also just do a full top.
  9. When your bottom crust is done blind baking, remove from the oven and add your cooked filling. Place the top crust on the pie and brush with the remaining beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar. I don’t like to put too much crust over the rim of the pie, because oven the rim will get very brown, but it’s up to you.
  10. Now, baking times vary for pie. Because your bottom crust is mostly baked and your filling is mostly cooked, you can test for doneness by looking at your top crust. I recommend around 40 mins. Your filling should bubble and your crust should be golden brown, with maybe a hint of darker colour around the edges. Cooking at the bottom of the oven will ensure that the top doesn’t get too brown.
  11. Let cool completely before you cut in. This pie shouldn’t be runny, but will be if you cut into it too early!!

 

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