Ma and Pa Kettle Plus Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Today, I'm pairing a classic movie with a delicious dessert for the Classic Movie Ice Cream Social blogathon hosted by Movies Silently.

My selections are the always endearing Pa and Ma Kettle, as portrayed by Percy Kilbride and Marjorie Main, and a delicious strawberry-rhubarb pie that is easy to make.

The Classic Movie Ice Cream Social is designed as a blogathon of cheer, and there's nothing that improves my mood like a good old Hollywood movie and a homemade dessert. So with that in mind, I'm recommending you spend an evening with the delightful Ma and Pa Kettle and some strawberry-rhubarb slab pie.

Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair (1952) is the fourth of nine films that Universal Pictures made about the rural Washington state family with 15 children that is held together by the slow-moving Pa (Percy Kilbride) and the plain-spoken Ma (Marjorie Main). The plot of Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair is pretty typical of the series: The Kettle's daughter, Rosie (Lori Nelson), needs money to attend college, so Ma and Pa decide to raise money by entering contests at the county fair. Ma, who is an expert seamstress and cook, enters several competitions, while, Pa, ever the big dreamer, buys a horse to ride in the fair's annual harness race.

At 78 minutes, Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair is short and sweet fun, especially Ma's battles with the snooty Birdie Hicks (Esther Dale) over the fair prizes, and Pa's ingenious, but somehow still inept attempts to turn a broken-down nag into the next Seabiscuit.

 I don't want to give away the ending, but it's fair to say that feeding 15 hungry children gave Ma ample opportunity to practice the baking skills that are needed to win blue ribbons at the county fair. That's why I chose this blue-ribbon strawberry rhubarb slab pie that I found in a 1930's cookbook. It's a great recipe that has several things about it that Ma would like: It's easy to make, it can feed a crowd, an some of the ingredient can come from your backyard.

Here's the basic list of ingredients.

2 1\4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of Crisco
1\4 cup of unsalted butter
2-4 tablespoons of ice water
small amount of milk and sugar
4 lbs strawberries
2-3 stalks of rhubarb
1 1\4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter
Cooking Time and temperature: 425 degrees for 30-35 minutes

This is a slab pie, which means it has a single crust that is placed over the filling and baked in a 13 by 9 inch square pan.  Pie crust is probably the least difficult pastry to master, and this recipe is super-easy, but there are two things you need to remember before you start: You'll have the best results with Crisco or real lard, and you need to keep the Crisco and butter cold. With that in mind, let's get started with the crust

1. Sift together flour and salt.

2. Cut in the Crisco and butter with a pastry cutter or your fingers. Don't over work the dough: The Crisco should be in pea-sized clumps and you should leave the butter in fairly large chunks. The end result will look something like this.

3. Add 2-4 tablespoons of ice water and mix with your fingers until you have a Play-Doh like ball. You can use the dough right away, but it's easier to work with if you pop it in the fridge for a few hours.

Next, make the filling. I have a strawberry patch in my backyard, but my berries won't be ripe until June, so I bought the strawberries for this pie at the grocery store. However, rhubarb is in season, so I picked two large stalks out of the patch in my backyard. Here's what a rhubarb patch looks like:

Here's what the rhubarb looks like after I cut it and removed the leaves (the leaves are poisonous).

1. For the filling, slice the strawberries and rhubarb (the rhubarb should be in small chunks) and mix in the sugar and cornstarch.

2. Grease the pan and put in the mixture. Cut two tablespoons of cold butter into four pieces and place on top.

3. Roll out your dough, and place it on top of the mixture. You need to leave plenty of air holes, so, if you're the artistic type, you can make fancy designs, or, if you're like me, you can just leave a large square in the center of the pie. Brush with milk and sprinkle with lots of sugar.

4. Cook at 425 degrees for about 30-35 minutes. Let the pie cool for about an hour and then serve warm on top of ice cream for a crowd-pleasing treat. 


  1. Hi Amanda. My dad loved rhubarb pie. I think he would have liked yours. When I was in grammar school, they used to show us Ma & Pa Kettle movies (along with Francis the Talking Mule and Flubber movies) in the church hall. I was already a Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd snob, so I didn't give them a fair chance.

    1. The Ma and Pa Kettle movies can be corny, but Percy Kilbride and Marjorie Main are such good performers that they make it great


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