June 15, 2009

A Taste of Summer

Its been such a busy spring and now summer is almost here.  Although we've had a fair amount of rain and cool weather, I have been working in the garden, doing a lot of wedding sewing, finishing up my permaculture design course, and getting the opportunity to take a quick trip to an island.  In the midst of this, I haven't had much time to cook.  Even so, its hard not to peek at the delights that have begun to pop up in the farmer's market and the ground.

Rhubarb is the first fruit of the season, even though it is decidedly not a fruit, I use it mostly in the sweet dessert category.  (For some savory options, check this out) I've made a couple of rhubarb compotes with just sugar, water and a dash of cinnamon, which is great on ice cream or with yogurt.  I also love making a quick, simple rhubarb crisp.  Around here, rhubarb is ready for harvesting long before strawberries are even fruiting and, while I love both rhubarb and strawberries, the classic pie combination of the two is not my favorite.  While I wait patiently for other delights of summer, I like to really taste the tart and interesting flavor of rhubarb without the accompanying strawberries.

Although rhubarb is quickly outshone by the sweeter more enticing berries and fruits that arrive with summer, it can be harvested through out the season, just avoid the leaves and roots which are, strangely, poisonous.  It has a very distinct taste which goes marvelously with a crisp oat topping.  I love the way I seek out the taste of the stalks baked tender in and among the other flavors and enhancements.

Rhubarb Crisp

4 cups rhubarb, chopped into small peices
2/3 cup sugar 
1 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

Toss the rhubarb in 1/3 cup of the sugar and layer into a glass baking dish.  
Combine the remaining sugar with the oats, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Cut the butter into small chunks and add it into the oat mixture until it forms a crumb-like texture (like making a pie crust).  Spread the topping evenly on the rhubarb and bake at 350 degrees for about 2o minutes, or until bubbly and slightly browned on top.  Serves 4-6.

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