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Savoring the Seasons

Savoring the Seasons: Talking about rhubarb

By MARY MCCLINTOCK

Hooray for spring! Many sizes of daffodils are blooming in my yard, hepatica and bloodroot are blooming in the woods, and the little salad greens I planted in indoor pots on spring equinox are getting closer to the “snip them off and eat them as little microgreens” stage. I’ve been enjoying Michael Docter’s Winter Moon Farm spring-dug parsnips.

And, even though I know it is too early, I have been eyeing the tiny patch of asparagus in my front yard, wondering when the little sprouts will show. This year, I hope to plant more asparagus, and perhaps some other perennial vegetables.

I really know it is spring when I have conversations about rhubarb. Actually, I know it is spring SOMEWHERE when I have rhubarb conversations. A few weeks ago, I talked with my friend, Pat from Seattle, about rhubarb muffins she’d just made (see recipe below). Their spring is a bit ahead of ours. And I talked with my sister, Martha, who lives in Australia, about rhubarb during their spring and our fall. Martha has a well-established rhubarb patch that produces a huge amount of rhubarb.

Last week, one of my coworkers at my new part-time job at Family Outreach of Amherst told me about moving into a new house and being very puzzled by the big plants that grew up in her new garden. She’d never seen rhubarb growing and a friend told her what it is. I am going to give her Pat’s muffin recipe.

A sure sign of spring is the opening of local farmers markets. The Greenfield Farmers Market opens this Saturday, April 26, on the Greenfield Town Common. I heard from Devon Whitney-Deal, the market manager. She said, “We will have a truly full market covering Court Square and the Common. The Master Gardeners will be there doing Soil Testing, so folks can bring soil samples. And, we will have music and lots of produce.” To learn about how to sample your soil for testing, see the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association’s website at http://wmmga.org.

I’m not sure if anyone will have rhubarb for sale at this week’s farmers market, but if not this week, they will soon. What are your favorite ways to enjoy rhubarb? Please send me recipes. Or, find me at the farmers market and we can talk about rhubarb!

Greenfield Farmers Market Opening Day, Saturday, April 26, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Court Square/Greenfield Town Common, Greenfield. Greenfield Farmers Market is celebrating its 40th season! Opening day will feature fresh greens, starter plants, perennial plants, prepared foods, cheese, value-added products, maple syrup, honey, artisans and more! For information, visit www.greenfieldfarmersmarket.com.

This week we’re eating ...

RHUBARB MUFFINS

By Pat Lively, Seattle (adapted from PCC Natural Market, Seattle, WA)

Makes 9 muffins

1½ C. (8 oz) chopped rhubarb 

¼ C. sugar

½ tsp. ground cardamom, divided

6 T. unsalted butter, softened

¼ C. light brown sugar

2 eggs

2 C. all-purpose flour

1 T. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

1 C. half-and-half 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, grease or line 9 muffin cups; fill the other 3 cups ½ way with water. Combine rhubarb, sugar and ¼ tsp. cardamom in a bowl. Let stand until rhubarb releases some juices, about 15 minutes. In a small bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and remaining cardamom. Add butter mixture alternately with half-and-half, mixing until just moistened. Gently fold in the rhubarb. Divide batter between the prepared muffin cups. Bake until muffins are dry and springy to the touch, 20-25 minutes. Cool muffins in the pan for 5 minutes before removing. Serve warm.

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