Rhubarb. I love rhubarb pies and especially strawberry-rhubarb pie so when rhubarb is in season I get excited. I have a rhubarb plant in my NY garden which I planted there last season, I wonder how it’s doing. Rhubarb is the type of plant that gets bigger and better the longer it resides in a garden. You typically don’t have to replant it every year because the top dies in the winter and will come back for harvesting in the spring. Unless something happens to the rhubarb you are all set for life. Something always happens to my rhubarb. The first time I planted some in my garden it was an afterthought and the only room I had left was on the far end next to a tree. Well, the tree roots or the shade or both choked my rhubarb and it was never heard from again. The next time I decided to plant it farther away from the tree in a nice sunny spot. Well, that year we had almost no rain and the rhubarb didn’t seem to like that much either. It had lovely red and green stalks that wilted like taffy under the rays of the noonday sun. There is nothing worse than a wilted rhubarb plant. I decided to give it a break for a while so I didn’t plant any for a year or two. I got my rhubarb from a friend whose neighbor was giving away their surplus, just the luck, or from a local farm stand. Then I decided my time had come to really make an effort with this plant which is supposed to be almost effortless to maintain. I planted another rhubarb plant… then the next spring I asked my dad to help me get the ground ready by tilling the garden for me with the old rototiller in my grandfathers shed… and he decided to make the garden a little bigger… and little pieces of shredded rhubarb plant dotted the brown soil as a farewell to my attempts to keep a rhubarb plant longer than one season. Maybe this year it will be different.
Recipe for Rhubarb Crisp
by Laura Valetutto
for the filling:
6-8 stalks of rhubarb
1/2 to 1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 table spoon of vanilla extract (or 1 package of Dr. Oetker’s bourbon vanilla aroma)
for the crumble:
1 cup of flour
1 stick of butter or butter substitute like Earth Balance
1/2 cup of brown sugar
Clean and chop the rhubarb into 1 inch pieces. Mix with the other ingredients in a bowl.
In a separate bowl mix the flour and brown sugar and cut the butter in with two knives or a pastry cutter or you can use a food processor. The butter should be cut until it is roughly the size of small peas.
Put the rhubarb mixture into a pie dish and pour the crumble topping over the top spreading it out evenly over the rhubarb but don’t press it down! It doesn’t come out as good if you pat it down too much, so leave it loose and crumbly on top.
Then bake in an oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until it smells like it’s done.