The Dayton Kitchen

Eating well. So get ready and get butter.

don’t rue the rhubarb June 1, 2008

Filed under: baking,in the kitchen — pameladayton @ 9:29 pm
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The birds are singing at 4:08 a.m.  The sun is rising 10 minutes later.  The trees have leafed out completely, except for the Godforsaken black walnut tree in the back corner of our yard.  The garden is half planted, and my onions and potatoes are some seriously happy fellas.  For now.  I have to stay far away from the onion bed because I am really tempted to pull up an onion or two to see what the bulbs are looking like these days.

And it is the season of rhubarb.  There is a little roadside stand between my town and the ‘city’ to the north of us, and every spring I hold my breath as I drive by in anticipation of the day the rhubarb is for sale.  And when it is, I go there every day, and buy whatever of the stuff the nice man has to offer.  I am such a serious rhubarb purchaser that I make sure I have plenty of ones and fives in my pocket, to be ready for any amount that is in the basket.  That man makes a killing off of me and the other Daytons.  He even watches for my car so that he knows when to go pick more.  That is what he told me.

We like rhubarb three ways:  Rhubarb Crisp, Rhubarb Pie, and Rhubarb Sauce.  We do not like rhubarb raw.  Please do not wonder why and then go try some raw rhubarb.  Your taste buds will not forgive you for YEARS!  I only know one fella who ate raw rhubarb and lived to tell about it.  It’s just gross, and unsanitary, and it makes my tongue hurt to think about it, so please restrain yourself.

Here’s the rhubarb crisp I make:

Mix together:

  • 2 pounds of rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup-1 cup sugar (we like it tart, but adjust according to your tastes)

Put in an 8×8 or 9×9 (that’s inches) pan.

In a separate bowl, combine the following ingredients and mix together with your fingers, two knives or a pastry blender:

  • 2 cups regular rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3-4 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature (you could use shortening, but I will never understand that choice)

Sprinkle crumb mixture over the top of the fruit mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until bubbly.  Serve with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or a tall glass of milk.



200 pounds of asparagus, or why it’s smart to know your farmer

I regularly purchase vegetables from a local farmer.  Well, to clarify, I try to buy all of my veggies locally, but there is one farmer in particular who I shop with in addition to my CSA.  I ran into him unexpectedly at the East Aurora Farmers’ Market last week, and was disappointed that I had already purchased asparagus from another vendor.  We got to talking, first about the seedlings he is offering this spring, and then about his gorgeous asparagus.

I asked him how he recommends preserving asparagus, and I loved his answer:

  1. Wash the asparagus.
  2. Quick-freeze the asparagus.

Can it be any easier, people?  I think not.  He said that if you blanch the asparagus, it ends up being mushy and not at all like the vegetable that is in season now.  Because his method is so stinking easy, I asked if he had a certain amount I could purchase for a better price than if I were buying one pound at a time.  He said that he’d knock some off the price if I got 25 pounds, and even more if I got 50 pounds.  Well, I know that 50 pounds is a bit much for us.  That would be about one meal with asparagus every week for the next year.  We are growing enough other veggies that we would end up wasting something, and that’s not cool with me.

So I put out the call to a few people I thought might be interested in a great deal on asparagus.  Because really, who doesn’t like the stuff?  It’s amazing.

Two hundred pounds.  Fifteen families want 200 pounds of asparagus.  That figure translates into a lot of stinky pee happy tummies.

And the price:  $1.75 a pound.  The cheapest asparagus, shipped in from who-knows-where is around $4 when it’s on sale.  Less than two bucks a pound from a farmer I’ve met, and whose farm I’ve visited many times; a local, family-operated business where the CEO will stop what he is doing to talk with me about how he cultivates my food.

Go to your local farmers’ markets.  Get to know the people who grow the food you eat.  Ask about buying in bulk.  And save money while eating the glorious food that is in season.