Rhubarb: Mad Red Brain

March 23, 2011

New life in my rhubarb plant

“Like a mad red brain
the involute rhubarb leaf
thinks its way up
through loam.”
     — Jane Kenyon, from “April Chores”

Oh-Oh.  My rhubarb is peaking up in the garden, and I still have a bag of frozen rhubarb in my freezer.  It’s time to use up the old because soon I’ll have more fresh rhubarb than I’ll know what to do with.

The last of the rhubarb from my freezer

I found a new rhubarb recipe in New Flavors for Desserts:  Classic Recipes Redefined by Williams-Sonoma.  It makes a simple, but delicious, rhubarb crisp.  Here is the recipe:

Gingered Rhubarb Crisp
from Williams-Sonoma

1-1/2 lb rhubarb stalks, sliced
3 oranges
1 c granulated sugar
one 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 c quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Place rhubarb in 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  Finely grate the zest from one of the oranges and add it to the dish.  Squeeze 2/3 c juice from the oranges and add to the dish along with the granulated sugar.  Toss the rhubarb mixture with your hands, then spread it out evenly in the baking dish.

In a bowl, combine the ginger, flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, and salt.  Using a fork, toss until blended and then stir in the melted butter until the ingredients are evenly moistened.  Sprinkle the oat mixture over the rhubarb and bake for 15 minutes.  Loosely cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and continue to bake until the topping is browned and the juices are thick and bubbling around the edges of the dish, 15 – 20 minutes longer.  Let the crisp cool, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes before serving.

It’s delicious served warm with vanilla ice cream.

Gingered Rhubarb Crisp

Windfalls

August 12, 2009

One day's bounty -- windfall apples and pears

One day's bounty -- windfall apples and pears

After my daily run around Green Lake, I cool down as I walk home.  This time of year, I keep my eyes open for windfallen apples and pears.  There are two homes nearby where the fruit trees extend over the sidewalk, and if I see windfalls on the street side of their fences, I figure that this fruit is mine by right of use.  I find it satisfying to scavenge for “free” food; I feel as thrifty as Thoreau!

“There is another thinning of the fruit, commonly near the end of August or in September. . . All the country over, people are busy picking up the windfalls, and this will make them cheap for early apple-pies.”
     — Henry David Thoreau, “Wild Apples”

The day’s windfalls, after cutting away bruises and worm spots, often yield enough for a small batch of applesauce or a pan of fruit crisp.  For the topping of my mixed apple-pear crisp, I used a recipe for Summer Berry Crisp from Food to Live By by Myra Goodman:

3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 c old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)

I prepared the apples and pears as if they were to fill an apple pie, then transferred them to the bottom of an 8 x 8-inch glass baking pan.  I sprinkled the topping over the fruit, and baked for 30 – 35 minutes at 375 degrees.  It was wonderful served warm.

Pouring the topping over the fruit

Pouring the topping over the fruit

My apple-pear crisp from windfalls

My apple-pear crisp from windfalls

August Weather
by Katharine Tynan

DEAD heat and windless air,
 And silence over all;
Never a leaf astir,
 But the ripe apples fall;
Plums are purple-red,
 Pears amber and brown;
Thud! in the garden-bed!
 Ripe apples fall down.
Air like a cider-press
 With the bruised apples‘ scent;
Low whistles express
 Some sleepy bird’s content;
Still world and windless sky,
 A mist of heat o’er all;
Peace like a lullaby,
 And the ripe apples fall.