Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Wonderful Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a wonderful thing. Technically a vegetable, rivalling zucchini for productivity, it grows well untended and even better if you fuss with it a little. On the farm I had three great clumps of the red stemmed variety. They were wonderful accents and I loved letting them bloom. I had another rhubarb-like plant, non edible, that bloomed the same type of flower, only pale pink. The height and impact were wonderful.
Once we had our yard in town somewhat in order I was left with no rhubarb. A friend from Llyodminister donated a root to the cause and I planted it with fastidious care to detail. A huge deep hole. Five gallons of manure compost. Filled the hole with water and let it soak in. Covered that with eight inches of dirt. Planted the root and covered it up, leaving a bit of a dip for watering. Every year I watered and fussed and last year was payback. It outgrew it's spot too close to the garage wall. But I'm not moving it

Today I pruned it judiciously. It hardly looks like it was harvested, it was so crowded up against the wall. I brought it in and chopped it up and now my kitchen smells very very good.
So today I am reposting the rhubarb pie recipe with  pictures and instructions.

The recipe calls for four cups of fruit. That's about three big stalks of rhubarb, if it's thick. Remove ends and leaves, wash and chop. The bigger the knife the easier it is to chop. A great item for kids to practice chopping on as the shapes disappear when it's cooked .
I put a generous four cups in the pan, and then embellished it with six sliced strawberries because the marriage of rhubarb and strawberry is a wonderful thing.

Then I made up the sauce in my blender and poured it over. This makes a kind of custard that combines well with whipped cream or ice cream.

The topping is from a recipe for zucchini pie given me by the sister of the woman I buy my begonias from. It's a small world.

One cup rolled oats 
one cup flour
One and a half cup brown sugar
3/4 cup margarine or butter

I used a pastry blender to work the softened butter into the dry ingredients. 

When it was all patted into place I gave it a sprinkle of cinnamon because it smells so good when it's baking.

Smooth over the top of the fruit and bake at 340 F for about a half hour. Stick a fork in several places and if there is no resistance it is done. Yummy. How can something with leaves that are poisonous taste so good?

Now, rhubarb also makes a very nice drink. It's pink and pretty and you can add as much sugar as you like or add it to ginger ale as a flavouring. If it's too strong add some water. You can freeze it too, and take it out in the winter to add something tasty to a meal.

For this jug of juice I added 3 cups water to 4 cups chopped rhubarb and boiled it until it was mushy and stringy. Doesn't take too long. Then, because I couldn't find my wire sieve I put a clean dishcloth in a colander and poured the slurry into it, over a bowl to catch the juice. After a while I squeezed it some and when I had the most of the liquid out I discarded the pulp and added a cup of sugar to the liquid. Voila. Fruit juice.

And rhubarb is easy to freeze. Wash. Chop. Bag. Freeze. What is in the ziploc will make another round of what I made today. One dessert and a round of juice.

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