Rainy Days and Rhubarb

PeonyI had a plan for today…. Jim and I were going to the Farmers Market to buy tomato seedlings from one of the growers, and then spend a glorious, balmy May day in the garden.

Woe is me. After two days of drenching rain, the deluge continues, and now the wind and crazy cold have teamed up to make me blue.

You see, I am working with a tight deadline. Our garden is going to be on a tour in the beginning of June, and my to-do list is growing as fast as Jack’s beanstalk.

Alas, ….. what do I do if I’m glum and can’t mess around in the garden? I get busy in the kitchen.

The rhubarb stalks are ready to be picked. It is one of the few perennial vegetables I grow, and first to come up in the spring. This year, it pushed out an ungainly flower stalk taller than me….. huh?

Google, my go-to encyclopedia explains, that can occur when the plant is stressed by drought. Remember just a few short weeks ago I was complaining about spending my days attached to a hose I was dragging hither and thither? My hose in the vegetable garden couldn’t quite reach the rhubarb, and I thought the plant was tough and tolerant, and could withstand the drought. The flower is its way of telling me it was desperate for a drink of water.

It has put out a lot of beautiful stalks anyway- (and I did cut off the ugly flower stalk, which saps energy from the plant.)

Rhubarb and Flowers

To make Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, I used a recipe from The Big Book of Easy Suppers by Maryana Vollstedt, as my guide.

Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees.

You need 6 – 7 cups of strawberries and rhubarb.  My cooking pal, Natalie and I used about 2 cups of quartered strawberries and 4 cups of rhubarb cut into 1 inch pieces. Pour the fruit into a bowl with 1 cup of sugar and allow the juices to mingle while you make the crumble topping.

Topping:

1/2 cup old fashion oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter

Mix all the topping ingredients in a bowl using a pastry cutter, until crumbly.

Now mix 1/4 cup cornstarch into the fruit mixture, and pour into an 8″ x 8″ pyrex baking dish.

Sprinkle the oat topping evenly over the fruit.

Bake until bubbly, fragrant and lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

Try to let it cool before diving in! Of course this is wonderful with vanilla ice cream.

* Photos courtesy of Natalie

 

 

 

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