Heirloom Rhubarb Recipe

The replies to my call for local recipes included in the “Make It Minnesotan” cookbook continue to come in.

Answering the plea most recently is Marge Finnegan of Heron Lake, who represented Jackson County in the cookbook that cele-brated Minnesota’s sesquicentennial last year.

“When I read the article about the cookbook, I thought about my grandparents and my husband’s grandparents,” Marge related in her letter. “My husband Jame’s grandparents came to Minnesota in 1877 to homestead. There was very little in the area growing that they could eat. One of the first plants they planted was rhubarb.”

Marge’s entry in the cookbook details how her husband’s grandparents, John and Elizabeth Jentgen Mathias, homesteaded 80 acres in Southbrook Township in Cottonwood County, later moving to LaCrosse Township in Jackson County. Anna Mathias Fin-negan — Marge’s mother-in-law — was their only daughter.

“She married John Finnegan in 1927 and had one child — my husband,” she explained in the book. “In the spring after the snow had melted, one of the first green growth to be seen is the rhubarb. Anna would watch it closely. As soon as it was a couple inches high, she would make this rhubarb pie.”

While the rhubarb patch is usually long done producing by this time of year, I thought I spied some rhubarb for sale recently at the Farmers Market. And I do know that some people freeze rhubarb for use throughout the year, so here’s Marge’s Rhubarb Pie recipe. If you don’t have any rhubarb to use up, file it away for next rhubarb season.

Rhubarb Pie

Crust: Mix 1 cup shortening or lard and 2 cups flour until crumbly. Add ½ cup water, form a ball and divide ball in half. Roll out for top and bottom crust. Place one crust in pie pan.

Filling: Place 3 cups rhubarb, finely cut, in unbaked pie shell. Beat 2 cups sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 3 tablespoons cream, 2 eggs and a pinch of salt. Pour over rhubarb. Cover with top crust.

Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 1 hour.

By the way, Marge did make it to the “Make It Minnesotan” launch party last year at the Minnesota State Fair.

“I was honored to be in the cookbook, and I also went to the state fair,” she added. “I had not been to the fair for 30 years. I now use a wheelchair because of polio, but my grandson Sam, who was 14, went with me. I parked my van in a park-and-ride (lot) and took the bus to the fair. We had a great time.”