Thursday, 31 May 2012

Rhubarb Custard Pie

It's rhubarb season. And we LOVE rhubarb. Since it's in season for only a brief period of time I cherish it. Since as far as I can remember, my mum would make this rhubarb custard pie each spring. Mmm. It's one of my two favourite pies (my other being blueberry glazed pie).

I was able to get my hands on a whole bunch of rhubarb from the farm this past weekend. I contemplated making a rhubarb crumble cake, perhaps a rhubarb galette, or maybe some rhubarb compote. But in the end I decided to stick with pie. Here's the recipe.

Rhubarb Custard Pie
(original source unknown)

Pâte brisée:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Preheat the oven to 450F. In a food processor, whiz together flour, salt, and sugar until combined.

Cut up butter, and add to the flour etc. Process until the mixture looks like coarse meal.

Slowly add the water while running the food processor, and continue adding until the dough holds together when pinched. Don't process for more than 30 seconds.

Divide the dough in two, and with your hands form each section into a disc. Wrap in saran wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You only need one disc for a pie, so you can freeze the extra one and use it at a later date.

Pie Filling:
3 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter
4 cups of rhubarb, cut into 1/2 pieces

Separate the egg yolks and whites, putting the yolks in a large bowl and the egg whites in a small bowl. Set the bowl of egg whites aside for now. You'll eventually use them for the meringue.

Whisk together with the butter, sugar, and flour. 

Wash your lovely rhubarb stalks, and chop them up into 1/2'' pieces.

Add rhubarb to the egg-sugar-butter mixture and stir until combined. It'll be a little chunky at first, but it will become more liquidy/custardy as it sits while you deal with the pie crust.

Take your dough out of the fridge, and roll it out until it will fit into a 8'' or 9'' pie plate. Trim off any excess overhanging dough, tuck the remaining edge in so it's sitting on the rim of the pie plate, then use the tines of a fork to press the crust down. I sort of just winged this step. There are fancier and tidier ways to finish your edge, but I'm not a perfectionist. I just want to eat the pie already!!

Pour the rhubarb mixture into the uncooked pie crust. Bake at 400F for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350F and bake for an additional 45 minutes.

Remove from oven, and allow to cool while you make the meringue. Turn the oven up to 450F.

3 egg whites
dash of salt
2 tbsp cold water
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar

Beat water, salt, and egg whites on high until stiff peaks form. Add the baking powder, then slowly add the sugar while continuing to beat the mixture. Beat some more until stiff peaks form. Pile onto the pie, covering the whole thing all the way to the crust.

Put in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the meringue starts to turn golden.


Thursday, 24 May 2012


At the end of April we threw a party for two of the Bees, Jenna and Melanie who would soon be leaving Hamilton on new adventures. Jenna and her husband Jeff have moved to beautiful Lanark Highlands to run Back Forty Artisan Cheese. Mel and her family will soon be moving to a new home in Norfolk County that is just minutes away from their garden. We had the farewell party at Jen and Mike’s house. (Unfortunately Mel wasn’t able to attend.)

It was a potluck affair so of course almost everyone brought cheese! The Bees love cheese. Hollie paired her cheese selection with homemade apricot preserves. Yum!

The host and hostess offered us grilled sausages and some excellent homemade burgers.

Of course a potluck wouldn’t be complete without dessert. Thea, who was home taking a break from her studies in London, made some delicious rhubarb galettes. There was also a good selection of pastries from local bakeries.

Once everyone was stuffed with all the tasty treats that were on offer, we surprised Jenna with a gift. (Mel’s gift was delivered to her later.) The gift was an embroidered bee that is part of our logo. Many of the Bees had a hand in the embroidering making it truly a group gift.

Although we wished Jenna and Mel farewell, it was not goodbye. Jenna and Mel will be Scout Bees, along with Anna, who will be occasionally reporting back to share their adventures on the blog.

PS. This is Steve, one of Jen and Mike’s cats, the life of the party.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Modular Beauty

Calling all stitchers, lovers of quilts, the curiously crafty, and sewing enthusiasts! We bees need your help...

Remember this photo of Jenna? Back in February we hinted that we were working on our Supercrawl proposal. Well, the time has come to share our plan with y'all! But first, let's take a brief trip down memory lane.

As you may remember, last year we participated in Supercrawl by creating a large, knitted installation entitled 'Knit Night on the Brain.' With your help, we knit 80 brick scarves and stitched them together to make up the facade of one of our favourite haunts, the Brain. Lion Brand Yarn generously donated the materials, and YOU, the amazingly crafty folk of Hamilton, generously donated your time and talent to help us create this gigantic knitted piece. The end result was quite impressive! Once all was said and done, we disassembled the scarves and donated every single one of them to Mission Services, just in time for the cool weather.

This year for Supercrawl, we're planning yet another large scale textile installation: Modular Beauty.

Modular Beauty will be made up from hand sewn, english paper pieced hexagons (hexagons = honeycombs = beehives) that will creep and grow out of unexpected places along James Street, mimicking hives in the wild.

Beehives are incredibly symbolic of our fair city - just look up at our original coat of arms the next time you're passing by the armouries on James Street. Hamilton has always been an ambitious and industrious city, with residents are who are familiar with working with their hands. We feel a connection to this aspect in particular of its manufacturing past, and wish to pay reverence by draping the street in our softer, but just as driven, methods. We're so proud of this city we call home, and Modular Beauty will resonate a sense of our past, workers heritage, industry and community. We're determined to revitalize in the best way we know how - a fibre intervention.

So, we're asking for your support once again. Many hands make light work, right? Just like Knit Night on the Brain, involving Hamilton's craft community is a very important aspect of Modular Beauty.

On Wednesday May 30th, the Beehive will be hosting an informal English Paper Piecing workshop at Needlework from 6-9pm, during their monthly craft night. No prior sewing experience is necessary and it's very simple - all we ask is for is your willingness to learn, share, and maybe sew up a hexagon or two! Donations to Modular Beauty in the form of scrap cotton fabric is greatly appreciated, however we do have scraps fabrics between us Bees that we're more than willing to share if needed. We'll also provide the templates, so all you have to bring is a needle and thread!

If you can't make next Wednesday but you're still interested in contributing, never fear! We plan on hosting a monthly quilting bee/hive-drive (har har, bee puns) to teach the necessary skills, collect hexagons, and to simply enjoy each others company. Stay tuned for more dates!

So, there it is! Hope you're as excited as we are about Supercrawl. It's gonna be a good one.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Collective Buzz: How To Form A Craft Collective

A while back we were approached about presenting something at the 'Craft and the New Economy' Symposium which is put on by the Ontario Crafts Council. We were super honoured, and jumped at the opportunity, but it wasn't until we sat down to plan our workshop that we realized how nervous we all were! We very quickly figured out what we could talk about ('How To Form A Craft Collective'), but who was going to say what? Who would go first? "Are you nervous? Because I'm so nervous!"...

Well, it came and went, and we did just fine! We had a great turnout at our workshop, and we walked our attendees through an English Paper Piecing tutorial as we went through what we consider the five key steps to starting a craft collective in your own community.

Step 1: Find a group of like-minded people.

This might be a group of friends that you already have, or it might mean that you need to get creative! Put up posters, join/start a knit night, look for local craft whatever you need to do to find
some people who are just as passionate about this idea as you are.

Step 2. Create a vision for your group.

Every craft collective will have it's own unique identity. For us, we were looking to connect with like-minded people and participate in skill-sharing and large-scale craft projects. For you it may be something very different. When you meet with your collective be sure to share the things you are excited about, because you never know what might come of it!

Step 3. Delegate tasks.

For the Beehive, the tasks 'fell' pretty naturally. Each of us volunteered for certain tasks, based on our interest and schedules, and the tasks that were left over seemed to naturally fall into place as well. It's important in a collective, where no one is in charge or specifically taking the lead, that you're very aware of sharing the load. One thing we've all appreciated about the Beehive is that there is an honesty and graciousness about what each of us can take on a different points throughout the year.

Step 4. Get busy!

Do the things that you want to do! There was a reason you started this collective - now, get to it! Host a craft fair, share your skills, start a garden, put on a workshop, create a collective art piece...there are so many different things you can do with your group!

Step 5. Share the love.

If you're part of a craft collective, there are lots of people who want to hear about it! Start a website, create a blog, share pictures, put together tutorials...there is so much to learn and so much we can all be inspired by.

Those five steps pretty much sum up our process, which we would all say has been a great success! We've got some exciting projects on the go, one of which we'll be looking for help with soon! You'll hear about it here in the next few weeks...

If you have a collective of your own, we'd love to hear your story! Or maybe you're thinking of starting one and you have some questions about our journey. Just leave your comments and questions below or send an email to, and we'll be happy to give some more insight. Thanks for reading!