Posts Tagged: aryn henning nichols

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recipe


Strawberry Rhubarb Pie is our favorite to order at the Luren Singers food stand at the Winneshiek County Fair – a la mode, of course. (Yay! FAIR TIME is coming up soon!) But I’ve never made one of these pies from scratch – so far, I’ve only baked apple and peach/blueberry. Clearly, it was time to add another pie to my repertoire, and we needed to use some of our monster rhubarb 11116396_10207300461533212_6958272834708009085_o(see right) plus strawberries are so good right now!

Don’t be afraid to make your own crust – it’s really not hard, I promise! This crust is a little different from my regular recipe (usually I bow to Betty Crocker). I love that there’s ample dough to work with and the sugar and extra butter helps the crust crisp up nicely. Yum!

The filling for this pie is nice and tart, so I recommend serving it up a la mode too – with vanilla ice cream, of course! Happy baking!

Enjoy – and please let me know if you have any questions.


Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recipe


2 1/2 cups plus all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold butter, cubed
1/4 cup ice-cold water (added by tablespoons)


2 1/2 cups chopped fresh, red rhubarb
2 1/2 cups washed and cut strawberries
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons butter, cubed

Make your crusts:
Combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Cube the butter and cut it in with a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers! You’re good when the bits are about the size of peas. Add water a couple of tablespoons at a time, mixing up the dough lightly with a fork until it seems like it’s starting to stick together (but isn’t sticky). Push the dough into the middle of the bowl and form a ball.  Cut in two and move over to Saran Wrap and form into two discs. It often seems a little dry, but don’t fret. It comes together.

Chill in the refrigerator while you make the filling. You can also make dough discs ahead of time and freeze, or keep in the fridge up to three days. I like to double my crust recipe when I’m making them so it’s easy to throw a future pie together. Just grab a couple crusts out of the freezer and make a filling!


Preheat your oven: 425 degrees F.
Tip: Place a foil-covered baking sheet at the bottom of your oven to avoid bubble-over mess!

Make your filling:
Mix the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, and vanilla. Carefully stir together in a large bowl.

Assemble your pie:

Pull your dough discs out of the fridge and sprinkle a little flour on your counter where you’ll be rolling our your dough. First roll out the bottom crust. To move it over to the pie pan, fold dough in half, then in half again. It’s handy to have pastry cutter to get under your dough. Fold out into the pan. Pour in the filling, dot with butter, and then roll out the second disc of dough and repeat the folding maneuver for the top crust. Cut a few slits in the top to avoid steaming your crust, and decorate the pie too, if you like!

Cover the entire pie with foil and bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes. The, decrease temperature to 375 degrees F, remove the foil, and bake for an additional 45 to 50 minutes, or until the filling starts bubbling. Cool before serving (with ice cream). Enjoy!



The Push/Pull of Parenthood

The Push/Pull of Parenthood

The Push/Pull of Parenthood

It never fails.

Roxie leaves with her (usually) brushed hair floating behind her, mismatched socks on under her “rock & roll” shoes, day care bag ready to go, and a, “bye bye meatball spaghetti” yell as the door clicks closed. In her wake, there is (usually) a whirlwind of pajamas (plural), princess crowns, and tiny little ponies. Sometimes glitter.


My patience is always tested these mornings as we slowly prod our sweet toddler out the door. But the minute I turn and exhale a sigh of relief, my heart tightens. I catch my breath. It’s quiet. She’s gone. And, somehow, also: It’s quiet! She’s gone!

I’m repeatedly baffled at this. I call it the “Push/Pull of Parenthood.” I’m utterly crazy about something my kid did and utterly crazy-in-love about something my kid did, all at the same time.


Benji and I talk about it – parenting – a lot. So much talk around raising a child! It’s crazy how parenting has really grown to become this Skill you need to literally study. Except the class is all quiz/no Q&A. Being a parent makes me feel isolated and at one with the earth simultaneously. Totally content and totally restless. It’s the hardest thing and the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done. Ever. How can it be all these things, all the time?

We’re currently at this point in our lives where we decide whether or not to have another kid. Society says, “Go for it! Two or more kids is the norm! Procreate!” Logic says, “No f*&king way; it’s too hard; you’ve got a good thing going, and you should just quit while you’re ahead!” And the heart…well…the heart is a sneaky beast that doesn’t share its real feelings. It ghosts around saying, “Oh, shouldn’t there be one more little pair of legs running up that hill? Don’t you want your daughter to have a sibling? To grow? To understand how to deal with another human being in her immediate proximity, pretty much all the time?”


Hormones and hearts are often confused. And always confusing. I’m going to be 35 this month, Roxie will be four this summer, and Benji…well, he doesn’t want to be 40 chasing a baby (he’s 38 this month).

So, because I’m a journalist, I’m doing research. I’ve read the book One and Only by Lauren Sandler (an only who has an only), met with (dare I say I’ve interviewed) at least three parents of only kids here in Decorah, have chatted with parents who have two or more, have googled “should I have another child” more times than I’m willing to admit (this post is great!), and I’ve brought it up to pretty much anyone who is willing to listen (“How many siblings do you have? Do you get along? Do you have kids?” Sorry grocery store checkout person, random on the street, and four-year-old at the park!). Now, finally, I’m writing about it.

And I’m hoping to write about it more as we continue trying to find the right answer for us. That last part is key! Every family is different. That said, got any advice? I welcome any and all that doesn’t make me sad-cry. Sad-cry comments will be deleted before they hit my cerebral cortex (or whatever part of my brain controls these crazy emotions…). There’s no right or wrong, for sure, and that’s part of why I’m writing about it – it’s important for you all to know that too! Pretty much everyone I’ve talked to has said, “I don’t envy your decision!” If you’re in the same boat, I wish you luck!

More soon.


How To: Make Paper Flowers!

By Aryn Henning Nichols

In my adult life I’ve often found myself grateful to my crafty mother for teaching me her crafty ways. While my siblings and I complained during 4-H Fair Time as we cut out patterns and sewed our own dresses, skirts, etc., re-covered old chairs and learned to use cameras, I’ve found these things to be incredibly useful – and fun – in real life. (Thanks, Mom!) There’s another crafty thing my mom taught me that I’ve also used again and again to impress friends and hosts: the homemade paper bow. For the Spring 2011 issue of Inspire(d) (pictured above), I adapted it to be a paper flower for May Day Baskets. I find it is charming like this, but remember – as you’re wrapping your next present, don’t forget your scrap paper bits! You can make a super cool bow too! Leave it as one layer (like the flowers shown), or make more bow “flowers” to stick on top of the first (starting with smaller and smaller squares) to add more dimension.

Whatever your plan, here’s how you start!

Wrapping (or any other) paper
Straw or stick (only needed if you’re making a flower)

1. Cut your piece of paper into a square .

2. Fold the bottom corner up to the top, making a triangle.

3. Fold the left corner to the right, making a smaller triangle (imagine you’re making a paper snowflake…)

4. Fold one more time. Keep the inside tip down (this is the center of the flower).

5. Cut the end of the triangle, rounding it off.

6. Cut all the seams up to about half an inch to an inch from the center. Do not cut all the way or your flower will fall apart.

7. Open the flower – it should look like this!

8. Get eight pieces of tape ready to go.

9. Flip over the flower and bring each petal’s ends together. Tape.

10. Cut a small strip of paper and make into a roll. Tape, then roll a piece of tape, sticky side out, and attach it to the paper roll.

11. Attach to your flower (or bow).

12. If you’re using as a flower, attach a stick or a straw, like we did here. Enjoy and Happy May Day!

P.S. Here’s the template for our May Day Baskets! Click for the printable pdf.