Rhubarb

Rhubarb season always bring memories of my Grandfather. He'd pick me up from kindergarten in his red and white truck. Lady, the collie dog, would meet us in the driveway at home, at the end of a forever row of eucalyptus trees, the song of red winged black birds through the open windows. I remember it as if it were yesterday. The red winged black birds still sound the same.

Later, in junior high, when he was driving a purple jeep, and I could walk to school, he taught me to make rhubarb pie. At first he made the crust, instructed me on the filling and with each successive pie he was further from the kitchen. Until the pie came from the oven; then he was first at the table.

All these years later, lifetimes really, and he's been gone more than a decade, I've not made a rhubarb pie. I honestly don't remember how. But on Sunday I improvised a stewed pot of rhubarb, adding flavor as I went.

The rhubarb, a squeeze of lemon juice, confetti ribbons of zest. I added candied ginger because I had it. Grandpa would never have considered it. And because I don't love sugar, like he did, I sweetened the pot with wild blackberry honey. And half a basket of strawberries. He adored a good strawberry.

With a bit of water the rhubarb cooked to a sauce, the consistency of pie filling. I ate it from the pot. Until it cooled. Then I spooned it, the biggest spoon I could find, over a bowl of meyer lemon yogurt.

If Grandpa had been able to taste it, he would have been first at the table. Even with the ginger.

It seems like such an old fashioned food, unfortunately forgotten. But a guarantee that it's not commercial. I like that, that I find it, unbunched, loose, on a small farmers fold out table, priced with a paper and felt pen sign.

How about you? Do you eat rhubarb?

13 comments:

Kelly said...

hiya! been lurking, not commenting. Gone mute! I love rhubarb. Rhubarb and apple crumble with thick real fresh cream...mmmmmm with lemon yoghurt sounds beautifully fresh. Must try, i hve plenty of Meyers

Another Outspoken Female said...

I love the stuff. My mum grew it in the garden and a jar of simple stewed rhubarb (just with a dash of water and a big spoon of sugar) was often in the fridge.

I stew it with sugar and a dash of rosewater, or if really decadent fry it in butter with sugar and cinnamon. Yum!

knutty knitter said...

Rhubarb is definitely not forgotten round here. I have a large clump down by the potting shed :)

Rhubarb crumble or spongy pud !

viv in nz

Carlie said...

Indeed I do! With gusto!

Kale for Sale said...

Kelly - I smiled seeing your comment in the mailbox this morning. How wonderful to hear from you and glad you've been lurking. Not that there's been much to lurk at. Thanks for the rhubarb and cream idea. I can so imagine it.

AOF - Rosewater! That sounds so exotic. I have to try it. And fried with sugar and cinnamon! Many, many thanks. I would have never come up with these on my own. Thanks to your mum too for the simple stewed.

Viv in nz - I can see it, the clump by the potting shed. How perfect.

Carlie - I'm beginning to think it's not such an old fashioned food after all but an enthusiastic food instead.

kathryn said...

I grew up with mum making rhubarb crumble. Now, when it's in season, my parents buy stacks of it and mum makes rhubarb and ginger jam, and stewed rhubarb to go on dad's breakfast muesli. This year they're trying to grow their own supply.

I don't buy it very often. However each time I do I plan to make something different, try out a new use. But once I'm in the kitchen, with rhubarb in hand, it *always* ends up stewed, with a few spices and some sugar. Delicious stuff.

Sera said...

Love Rhubarb! It's the one thing you can garuntee is growing in my mothers sometimes otherwise barren vegetable garden. We used to stew it with a little sugar and eat it with breakfast in winter. Great with porridge and brown sugar!

Kale for Sale said...

kathryn - There's something so lovely about your Mum making it for your Dad's muesli, them growing it. Food nourishes us in some ways, doesn't it. That love thing. Thank you for the story. And I'm happy, that you too, simply cook it stewed.

Sera - Your comment is like a miniature fairy tale. And they all lived happily ever after. Beautiful. Thank you. Next time I'm going to cook the rhubarb with brown sugar.

Audrey said...

I never knew about rhubarb 'til adulthood, and I love it so. It's great to be cooking stuff that your grandparents would have enjoyed. Honest food, really. I'll have to try cooked rhubarb with yogurt, what a great idea.

agrigirl said...

LOVE rhubarb and also the idea of putting candied ginger with it. I'll be your grandad would like it too!

Going Crunchy said...

Yes! I love Soule Mama's strawberry rhubarb muffins. I was inspired to buy rhubarb from the farmers market for the very first time with this recipe! I'm still not a skilled rhubarb person - but man, these muffins are to die for. I think the neighborhood kids swarmed me when I made them last year. Rock on rhubarb!

Gay said...

Pie! Rhubarb pie!
Crisp! Rhubarb crisp!
Fool! Rhubarb fool!

Kale for Sale said...

Audrey - Yes, honest food. I like how you put that. Thank you.

agrigirl - My fresh ginger connection, it comes from the central valley, is between seasons. Oh how I miss it. But a bit of a candied ginger suffices - purchased strictly for medicinal purposes mind you.

going crunchy - Kids are the best gauge of something being good. They can't fake it. I'll have to look up those muffins. Thanks for the tip.

gay - My mouth is watering!