I am not noted for my culinary skills. The S.O. jokes about the smoke alarm serving as a dinner bell with good reason. I have a bad habit of getting distracted and allowing things to become a tad crispier than they were meant to be. Despite that, I do like trying out new recipes occasionally.
Yesterday I decided to try a recipe for a Rhubarb Strawberry Jello pie. I've heard of people using strawberry jello in rhubarb pie, but I had never attempted it myself. My fallback recipe for rhubarb pie is the one my mom used -- it's the three ingredients one (rhubarb, sugar, eggs) that's so simple that after a person had made it once they never need to consult the recipe again. Still, I'm trying to use up last year's rhubarb before this year's gets big enough to be picked and frozen. Much as I like that pie recipe, doing the same thing over and over does get a little old. It seemed like a good time to try something different. So I did.
The recipe for the Rhubarb Strawberry Jello pie came from a community cookbook sold by the Aura Volunteer Fire Department a few years ago. The fact each recipe has a person's name associated with it sort of serves as some reassurance -- surely no one will contribute recipes that don't work when people will be thinking of that recipe as Martha Harju's Shoo Fly Pie or Jennifer Tikkanen's Killer Brownies. I'll be nice. I won't mention the name associated with this particular rhubarb recipe.
The recipe itself looked intriguingly simple. You dump the rhubarb into an unbaked pie shell and then sprinkle a package of strawberry jello over it. This gets topped with a mix of flour, butter, and sugar. I got the impression the topping would be a sort of streusel type of topping, kind of like what you find on some apple pies. Nope. It was more like a form of concrete. You shouldn't have to get out a chisel to cut a pie. It was definitely one of the stranger outcomes I've had in baking. The pie itself tastes fine, but that topping is really, really odd.
There are several other rhubarb pie recipes in that cookbook, including another strawberry Jello one, so next time I may try one of them. They're all over the map, though, on how much sugar is appropriate for a rhubarb pie. They all use the same amount of fruit (4 cups) but the sweetener? Anywhere from 3/4 cup to 2 full cups. I'll probably pass on that last one. Rhubarb is tart, but there's no way it needs that much sugar to take the edge off.