When It was summer, I was the one responsible for mowing grandma Is’ lawn. In the backyard, I would make slow careful circles around her peonies and rhubarb patch.
The peonies would bloom and later be held up with a circular piece of chicken wire through the summer. The rhubarb grew unrestricted. Leaves were generously pulled–never cut–from the plant. I would pull and single stalk and suck on the puckeringly tart end as I sat on the hard dry ground under the weeping willow. The cicadas song sounded like the power lines vibrating. I loved the late afternoon when the cooing of morning doves was accompanied by other lawn mowers humming from distant yards.
Grandma would bring in an armload of the big-leafed stalks to make her rhubarb custard pie.
She made the crusts with every bit of dough possible. But there were the tough shnibbles that were left over. These she flattened and sprinkled with sugar before popping them in the hot oven with the pie for a few minutes.
Now her pie recipe:
Take enough cut-up rhubarb to cover the bottom of an unbaked pie shell (about 1 1/2 cups). Mix together with 1/2 cup sugar and I tablespoon of flour.
Then mix 2 eggs, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of milk, a pinch of salt, and a few sprinkles of cinnamon. Pour the mixture over the rhubarb and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes…until the rhubarb is “done” and the custard is thick.
The best part of this was the shnibbles. Those little leftover pieces of sugar-sprinkled dough. They were finished baking in about 7 minutes, or so. The pie would need to sit and wait for after dinner. but grandma would only require us to wait until they “cooled down” before we could each take a single soft, flaky, buttery, sugary, shnibble (the sugar dropping off onto the floor from our breathy giggles) and take that first sweet bite.