Rhubarb season is here, and with it comes all sorts of childhood memories. A big patch in back of our next-door neighbors’ garage was a treasure we looked forward to every year. We kids would snap off stalks to chomp on, the intense sour seemingly not a problem for us as we sat in a circle telling ghost stories into the dark on balmy summer evenings. It may even have enhanced the spooky atmosphere.
And, when he wasn’t practicing optometry, my Uncle Reub was a big-time gardener and grafter of tree fruit. In his garden was a large patch of rhubarb from which my Aunt Bea, a phenomenal cook and baker, incorporated the veggie into fabulous strawberry-rhubarb pies.
Perhaps due to these fond memories, perhaps because it is a super-easy plant to maintain, I still love rhubarb, and have two different varieties growing in my garden. In fact, one of the plants came from my father’s backyard, and I have recently offered a piece of that plant to my eldest son, Seth. Given my total lack of success with bonsai, I figured this would be my way of perpetuating the family love of gardening and a memento of his grandfather. Growing the family tree, as it were.
I also believe that rhubarb has the power to save a romance. The first time my then-boyfriend came to visit, my stepmother had cooked mackerel for dinner. The house reeked of the oily fish, so I rushed out to the garden, picked some stalks, grabbed a pint of strawberries from the fridge, and baked a pie. By the time Joel arrived, flowers in hand, the house smelled divine. He is now my husband.
Although the repertoire of recipes for this beloved veggie isn’t vast, there are enough dishes to make use of my garden’s crop. I refer you to this recipe for a fabulous rhubarb bread, with the suggestion to add a teaspoon of vanilla to the batter to make it perfect, and the warning that there may be too much batter for the recommended loaf pan. It may overflow. Enjoy! http://allrecipes.com/recipe/237548/rhubarb-bread/