Savoring the Seasons: Basic is often best!
By MARY MCCLINTOCK
I’ve had many rhubarb conversations in recent weeks — with my sister Martha in Australia, with Franklin Community Community Meals Program director Sharon Pleasant, and with Frank and Karen Moro at Fisher’s Garage in South Deerfield. When I sent Martha my April 23 food column about rhubarb, she sent me her favorite way to prepare rhubarb, saying it was really basic, but tasty and versatile (see below).
Whenever she cooks rhubarb, she keeps some in the fridge for her partner to eat on his yogurt, and puts small batches in the freezer for later.
Then, I saw Sharon at a community meal and she said she wanted to try the rhubarb muffin recipe from my column. I asked about her favorite way to enjoy rhubarb. She laughed and said, “Strawberry Rhubarb pie, of course.” Then, she said, “When I was a kid, we used to dip raw rhubarb stalks into a baggie of sugar and bite off the end of the stalk. It was realllllly good!”
Sounds simple and tasty!
I’ve had generations of my cars repaired by the skillful folks at Fisher’s in South Deerfield. I recently traded in my old bumper-sticker-festooned car and bought a new-to-me car. When I took it to get inspected, Frank and I talked about asparagus, wondering when it would be available given the cool spring. I asked Frank how he prepares asparagus. He said, “I just steam it in the microwave. Crunchy is best, I don’t like asparagus that is overcooked so it is limp like spaghetti!”
I chuckled and said, “What about rhubarb?” He said, “When I was a kid we just pulled up a stalk and ate it. I don’t know if I’d do that now!” I told him about Sharon’s baggie of sugar trick and he laughed.
I asked Karen how she prepares asparagus and she said, “Butter and pepper!”
Those conversations with Frank and Karen were several weeks ago. Now, I’m eating asparagus every day. I agree that crisp and butter and pepper are tasty. My favorite way to eat asparagus is lightly steamed, then marinated in balsamic vinaigrette and served cold. My lunches these days are salads made of Lyonsville Farm baby spinach (from the Greenfield Farmers Market), marinated asparagus, and chopped, local hard-boiled eggs.
What’s YOUR favorite way to eat rhubarb and asparagus?
11th annual North Quabbin Food-A-Thon, Tuesday, May 20, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Orange and Athol. Raising funds and food for North Quabbin area food pantries and meal programs. Funds collected at main intersections on Route 2A in Orange and Athol. Food collected at Main Street intersection in Orange. Send checks to: Orange Historical Society/Food-a-thon, P.O. Box 28, Orange, MA 01364-0028. Details and volunteer opportunities available at: https://www.facebook.com/foodathon.
This Week We’re Eating ...
Most Basic Rhubarb Recipe
By Martha McClintock, Melbourne, Australia (adapted from a recipe Martha learned from Jamie Oliver’s television show)
Sugar to taste
Recipe amounts are predicated on rhubarb prepared stalk amounts. Basic amount for adaptation: 6-10 medium length stalks of rhubarb = 1 C. sugar for “sweet” taste, much less if you like tart taste. Experiment until you find your household’s preferred “tartness” level. Similarly, you can use white sugar, brown sugar, muscavado sugar or rapadura sugar, depending on your sugar taste preference. I ended up with 1/ 4 C. rapadura sugar for 6-10 stalks for our tastes. Prepare rhubarb by washing stalks thoroughly and cutting off leaves/stalk ends and discarding. Chop rhubarb stalks into 2-3 inch long chunks. Put rhubarb in a nonreactive saucepan with 1 C. water and sugar to taste (see above amounts). Boil until rhubarb stalks disintegrate into fiber and sauce, stirring to break up the stalks. It cooks VERY quickly, 3-5 minutes, so don’t walk away from it. Let cool and store in refrigerator or freezer. Uses: Pour over yogurt, granola, oatmeal or cake/muffins/bread, use any place you would use applesauce.