Thursday, June 16, 2011

Don't Rue the 'Barb!

“Rhubarb is the vegetable bridge between the tree fruits of winter and summer.”
-Alice Waters in Chez Panisse Fruit

Hethyr:  It is prime-time for rhubarb in Colorado Springs and I couldn’t be happier about that.  Since we try to eat as much local, seasonal food as possible, I’m always thrilled to see rhubarb appear as it’s one of the first vegetables we see in the springtime.  It signals the beginning of several months of delicious, fresh fruits and veggies and I always try to get my hands on as much as possible to use in a plethora of ways.

About a week-and-a-half ago, Jon and I took advantage of a “u-pick” organic rhubarb event at a local farm and, as usual, I got carried away.  Like 18 pounds carried away.  Oops.  I know most people would be completely overwhelmed by 18 pounds of almost anything – especially something like rhubarb – but I have been thoroughly enjoying figuring out how to use that much.  I have been a busy little bee ‘barb in the kitchen this week!

So far I’ve made Rhubarb-Sour Cream Coffee Cake, Rhubarb Ice Cream (I’m going to try Rhubarb-Pistachio next!), Rhubarb-Honey Muffins (fail, but they still tasted good), Rhubarb-Apple-Walnut Bread, Spiced Rhubarb Chutney (we’ll be having this on pork chops tonight), Rhubarb Tea, Lavender-Rhubarb Tea and Rhubarb Syrup to use in drinks and cocktails (we’ll be trying this drink tonight).  I also gave my step-mother-in-law about a pound of rhubarb to make a pie.  Well, that took care of about half of the rhubarb we picked.  Jon and I were laughing this morning about how I’m now trying to conserve the remainder of the rhubarb to make goodies for the next Pikes Peak Community Cupboard swap.  We should have picked more!

Rhubarb Syrup, Spiced Rhubarb Chutney,
Lavender-Rhubarb Tea & Rhubarb-Apple-Walnut Bread

My favorite recipes (that we’ve actually tasted) so far have been the Rhubarb-Apple-Walnut Bread (a great way to use up the remainder of the apples that we amazingly still have from our winter CSA) and the Lavender-Rhubarb Tea, so I’ll share those recipes today.  And though we have yet to taste it, you can go here for the rhubarb syrup recipe.

Overkill?  Not in my opinion!  Gotta enjoy it while it’s here because it’s only for a short time each year.

Rhubarb-Apple-Walnut Bread
Makes 2 loaves
  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (1 teaspoon for high altitude)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (1/4 teaspoon for high altitude)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh rhubarb, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F and grease two loaf pans.
2.  In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom and walnuts.
3.  In a separate large bowl, mix together sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs.
4.  Gradually mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients, then gently fold in rhubarb and apples.
5.  Divide batter evenly between loaf pans and bake for 1 hour or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Lavender-Rhubarb Tea
Makes a lot
  • 3 to 4 pounds rhubarb, cut into 2-inch sections
  • 1 tablespoon dried lavender
  • 12 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar (or to taste)
  • Mint sprigs
  • Ice

1.  Bring rhubarb, lavender and water to boil in a large soup pot.  Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.
2.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a very large bowl, discarding pulp.
3.  Stir in sugar until dissolved, then cool completely.
4.  Place mint leaves and ice in the bottom of a pitcher.  Crush the mint and pour in the tea.  Pour into individual glasses, garnish with extra mint leaves and enjoy!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

[househusband.gif]Jon:  As I sit here sipping my lavender-rhubarb tea, I can’t help but think about how much I love this time of year and the fresh veggies that are being harvested all around us.  I also can’t help but wonder where my masculinity has gone.  Picking fresh rhubarb on a sunny Saturday afternoon… hanging out at the farmer’s market… writing a food blog… I’m becoming as domesticated as a housecat.  And I haven’t even told you the worst part yet...

I’m a couple weeks away from finally getting my Master’s Degree, so I received a graduation gift from my dad and step-mom yesterday.  Was it a case of beer?  A new lawn mower, perhaps?  A circular saw?  Maybe a nice solid kick in the crotch?  Nope, it was a new blender.  And the really emasculating part is that I’ve been begging Hethyr for a new blender for months, so it was exactly what I wanted.

Anyway, it’s been nice getting back into the green season.  We’ve been gorging on rhubarb and lettuce and I love it.  This morning I drank a veggie smoothie that I made in my new blender.  It was called a “spicy spinach and celery” whole juice smoothie and consisted of spinach, carrots, celery, parsley, apples and ice.  It was a putrid brownish-green color that was way cool.  Hethyr was grossed out by both the color and taste of this liquid salad, so I drank hers after finishing mine.  It was pretty good but not exactly spicy.  Maybe some vodka would liven it up a bit… it might also restore a shred of my manhood.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go wash some lettuce and head to my Zumba class.


  1. The Lavender-Rhubarb Tea recipe has me envisioning a Rhubito (my made-up name for a Rhubarb Tea Mojito). When we were in Mexico, they referred to a Mojito as a 'frog in a blender'. Would a Rhubarb Mojito be referred to as a 'bloody frog in a blender'?
    But either way, that sounds much, much better than a putrid brownish-green color smoothie made by a Zumba-crazed man. :-)

  2. I have to admit, while I follow, and am constantly entertained by you two although I never comment. I am that behind the scenes blog stalker of yours!!! Thanks for the smiles, recipes and plethora of random facts that seem to pop up in conversations I have here in the Midwest from time to time!!!
    So here's to many more reads & yummies! Cheers!