Savoring the Seasons: New England Traditions: Rhubarb, farmers markets, sharing recipes all part of the season

  • Rhubarb Associated Press

  • Mary McClintock

For The Recorder
Published: 5/30/2017 11:44:45 AM

Most Saturday mornings at this time of year, you’ll find me on the Greenfield Town Common shopping at the Greenfield Farmers Market. I love roaming around, chatting with farmers, buying tasty local food and catching up with friends. This past weekend, I missed the Greenfield Farmers Market because I was visiting friends in Orono, Maine. When Linda and Rissa said they were going to the Orono Farmers Market on Saturday morning to get some vegetable plants, of course I wanted to tag along.

We picked up Linda’s mother, Jessica, and headed into town. I’ve met Jessica Smith before, and I enjoy chatting with her. I hadn’t remembered that she lived in Greenfield and Gill for a number of years. The Orono Farmers Market is in a big parking lot next to the Stillwater River. What fun it would be on a hot summer day to jump in the river for a quick dip after shopping at the farmers market.

I felt right at home checking out the different varieties of marigolds and basil plants and seeing families with kids and people stopping to chat. Just like at the Greenfield market, there were meat vendors, vegetable farmers, eggs, teas, cheeses, plants, prepared foods and more. Linda, Rissa, Jessica and I discussed tomato varieties with a young woman farmer (enthusing about Sungold cherry tomatoes and Purple Cherokee big tomatoes).

A number of farmers had long stalks of rhubarb for sale. Seeing them reminded me that Trouble Mandeson sent me a simple recipe for rhubarb cake that she learned from her co-worker at UMass. Trouble said, “I call it bread — it’s similar to zucchini or carrot bread. Super moist!” Trouble’s my friend who sent me the rhubarb chutney recipe I shared with you a year ago.

Seeing carrots and celeriac that had been stored from last fall’s harvest, and this spring’s greens and rhubarb at the Orono market, made me think about recipes that blend different seasons’ foods. The salad I took for lunch on my road trip to Maine was a spring season/late summer season meal: cold, chopped, steamed asparagus and fresh grown-in-a-greenhouse-in-Whately tomatoes tossed with Appalachian Naturals’ Maple Balsamic dressing.

Helen Baker at Baker’s Country Store in Conway was smart to display those tomatoes with a sign indicating they’re locally grown next to her display of asparagus. I don’t think I’d ever made an asparagus and tomato salad before, because asparagus is normally long gone by the time local, field-grown tomatoes are ripe. Helen gets tomatoes for her store from Fairview Farms in Whately. Checking out the Fairview Farm website, I see they grow lots of greenhouse tomatoes and sell them wholesale in the spring, fall and early winter.

On Sunday, after getting back from Maine, I stopped at Baker’s Store to pick up more asparagus and tomatoes. Linda Baker was there and asked me what I was preparing this week. I told her about the asparagus and tomato salad and that I was writing about rhubarb. I asked for rhubarb suggestions. She said she had a rhubarb cookie recipe from Connie Jackman. Of course, I asked her to send it to me.

Just as I was finishing this column, I heard from Linda. She couldn’t find the cookie recipe, but gave me Connie’s phone number so I could get it from her. And, she sent me several more rhubarb recipes. Stay tuned ... I’ll share more rhubarb recipes next week.

This Week We’re Eating ...

MaryAnn Mish’s Sour Cream Rhubarb Cake (shared by Trouble Erin Mandeson of Greenfield)

Topping ingredients:

½ C. granulated sugar

½ C. chopped walnuts or pecans

1 T. melted butter

1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix topping ingredients and set aside

Cream together:

1½ C. brown sugar

½ C. softened butter

1 egg

Alternately add:

2 C. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 C. sour cream

Then mix:

½ C. freshly cut rhubarb in ½-inch pieces

Top with brown sugar topping after pouring into 9-by-13-by-2-inch well-greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Local food advocate and community organizer Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer, editor, and book indexer. Send column suggestions and recipes to:


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