Finally – I have rhubarb in my garden courtesy of my parents prolific rhubarb plants. Last month I mentioned to my parents that I'd like a small chunk of one of their rhubarb plants. I love watching rhubarb grow and love eating it. More importantly though, I wanted to have a part of their beloved garden in mine. That same day, my dad arrived bearing a big chunk (pictured here). I was so pleased and decided immediately to plant it among the roses and the Black Elder bush growing in the front garden. Rhubarb likes sun and that seemed the best place.
Suddenly I found myself rethinking my front garden. These days, I have been preoccupied by the question Michael Pollan so bluntly asked in his book In Defence of Food: Do you know where your food comes from? Rather a simple question I thought until I began thinking carefully about all the foodstuffs we eat. So I am determined to grow more of my own food. I'm starting small this year and adding several herbs and veggies to my front garden. Next year, I will rent a plot in a community garden and start a bigger vegetable garden.
What's not to love about rhubarb? It grows incredibly well in this harsh climate, faithfully appearing every spring. I love walking the dog down our back lane and looking at all the rhubarb growing in so many gardens and in the lane.
What I especially love though, is having long-held memories come floating back. I can so clearly remember my mother picking rhubarb and presenting us with short stalks and a small bowl of sugar. In those days, our sugar consumption was pretty limited, so this was a treat of monumental proportions. My older sister and brother and I would lick the end of the rhubarb and carefully twirl it in the sugar. We'd spend what then seemed an eternity slowly sucking on the sugar as it mingled with the rather tart taste of the rhubarb. It was a little glimpse of heaven for each of us. And then we returned to our play.
When my dad presented me with some huge rhubarb stalks (60 cm/2 feet long) on Wednesday, I immediately knew what I would do with them. I made a rhubarb and strawberry crisp (pictured here), liberally flavoured with cardamon, mace, ginger. cinnamon and nutmeg. I added some unsweetened coconut and a handful of walnuts to the oats, flour and brown sugar mixture. The aromas wafting through the kitchen helped ease the work of wet vacuuming the downstairs carpet, flooded from all of the rain we've had.
I'm looking forward to sharing this dessert with my friend Kerry tonight – another big rhubarb fan. Served with plain yogurt or vanilla ice cream – a wonderful taste experience.