Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Recipes for June and Thoughts on Rhubarb, By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

Almost strawberry picking time around here, and I am looking forward to it. I love the supermarket strawberries, and their price, but fresh from the field, just picked, strawberries? Unbeatable!

So, a recipe from Grandma Taylor, or Ethel Baker Taylor, to get us started on the summer. Rhubarb is ready to eat in mid Spring, and as we know, it is luscious in pies!

Some haggle over whether rhubarb is a fruit or vegetable, with the ‘Joy of Cooking’ proclaiming: “Only by the wildest stretch of the imagination can rhubarb be included in this [fruit] chapter, but its tart flavor and its customary uses make it a reasonable facsimile, when cooked, of fruit." Well!!

And, ‘rhubarb’ as a word has its own delightful uses.

Stage actors commonly shout the word "rhubarb" repeatedly and in an unsynchronised manner, to cause the effect of general hubbub.

The phrase "out in the rhubarb patch" can be used to describe a place being in the far reaches of an area, as rhubarb is usually grown at the outer edges of the garden in the less desirable and unkempt area.

In Canada, the phrase "putting it in the rhubarb" describes driving a vehicle off the road, possibly into roadside vegetation.

And, in baseball, the iconic bench-clearing brawl is known as a "rhubarb", although, while I have heard many odd baseball terms (just laughed a few nights ago as my husband, Glenn, shouted, “He dinked a bingo over his head”—not sure just what kind of hit he meant, but I had visions of Australian wild dogs running around the field), I have never heard ‘rhubarb’ used yet, but the day is young—we begin yet another Red Sox/Yankees series tonight (and to throw in a personal note, this series might be extra interesting--played here in our own Fenway, and we all woke up today to the stunning news that overnight when the Boston Globe union voted ‘no’ to an 8% paycut, the owner—the New York Times—slapped them immediately with a “Sorry, but because you said ‘no’, next week, we are cutting all pay by 23% or going out of business.") So, yes, we could see a rhubarb or two in the next few baseball games—New York Times, New York Yankees, same thing…

But, back to Ethel’s recipe from our own Taylor Cookbook:

Rhubarb Pie:
Ethel always added a bit of milk and sugar to the top crust of her pies.

1 ¼ C. sugar
6 T. flour (rounded)
½ t. cinnamon
½ t. salt
Mix and sprinkle 4 T. of above over pastry; rest mix with rhubarb
1 lb. rhubarb (5 C. cut up in ½ -1/4 inch slices)
1 T. butter or margarine--add it in dabs to pie.
Cover with top crust. Sprinkle a little sugar on top of pie crust, after dabbing with milk.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then 350 degrees until rhubarb is soft when pierced with fork.

And, as we all know, to mix rhubarb AND strawberries in pies, well, what are you waiting for?


CB said...

Best picture of my mother I have ever seen!!! Makes me want to sit right beside her and visit!
What a discourse on rhubarb! Another reason to cook up a "mess" [ as Mom would say] Is that it was used in early days to cleanse and invigorate the human system!!! I suppose it was one of the early greens to pop up and they were starved for greens!!!
Were Aunt Doris to write here she would remember with me how we used to "can" burdock , pretending it was rhubarb when we played house in the back lots!!!
keep us up on what happens with the Paper!!!

Sue Kinsella said...

Yes, it's a great picture of Grandma. I also loved seeing the kitchen again. Brought back a lot of memories.

I especially loved the blue and white dishes (in the cupboard on the back wall, not shown, to the left of the stove). I ended up buying a set like that for myself because I liked the nostalgic link.

I had rhubarb pie - with strawberries! - on Sunday but it was not nearly as good as Grandma's.

Judy said...

Yes, I also agree a wonderful pic
of Grandma and her dress is so pretty!! (no apron?!) Thanks for
the recipe.

Tom Kinsella said...

Will look for rhubarb when I go shopping tonight. There may be a pie in my future.