Could it be the Euro crisis? The price of rhubarb in Stuttgart has plummeted to 99c a kilo. On the way home from the markets barely a passenger in sight was not toting a wad of pink stalks wrapped modestly in newspaper. Rhubarb is a funny thing. Its leaves are poisonous, its stalks are stringy, and it leaves your teeth feeling gritty and weird, no? As anyone who’s tried to grow it will know, that deep crimson blush is an elusive thing. My own clump of rhubarb plants was inherited by my lovely friend Jules and her family. Is it looking any pinker these days, Jules?

Rhubarb makes me think of family feuds. My mother has wanted a rhubarb patch for as long as I can remember, and for equally long, she’s been denied one by Dad. “There’s just no room in the veggie patch Merren,” he’d say. “It takes up too much space and takes too long to grow”. Mum and I once deviously bought a few punnets, but to no avail. They were relegated to a pot, and died shortly thereafter. Poor drainage was blamed. Dad’s recent desire to take over the rose bed for vegetables has at last provided the perfect leverage. It seems her victory has come. Solidarity Mum.

Today was dreary, drizzly and cold for roughly the four hundredth day in a row. The situation is desperate, and cooking has risen higher on the list of potential amusements. The following are on my shortlist:

Rhubarb Lavender Crumble from The Kitchn

my favourite hot and sour rhubarb and crispy pork with noodles

Hot and sour rhubarb and crispy pork with noodles from Jamie Oliver.

Rhubarb Fool from Eat Like a Girl

All we need now is Spring


12 Responses to “Rhubarb”

  1. 1 Samantha May 13, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    Yum! Your anecdote about your parents cracks me up. It was only the other day Merren was saying how much she wanted to grow rhubarb, which didn’t provoke a lot of enthusiasm from Arthur 🙂 Make rhubarb crumble first – thats my vote! xoxox

  2. 2 Carol Jesson May 13, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    We dug up a clump of rhubard when we left Sutherland and it is growing with gusto!!(10 years later) and is now big enough to divide!! Rhubarb/Apple is my favourite.

  3. 3 Arthur Kelly May 14, 2010 at 6:06 am

    Ah rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb Ally (as the old saying goes!!!) Just think how much lovely red rhubarb I could have grown in all those years I manfully tried to grow roses through droughts, aphid attacks, black spot, parrots eating the buds and so on. I’m sure rhubarb is almost pest free. It has its own built in insecticide, as you alluded to. Organic types use rhubarb spray as an insecticide on other vegies.
    I have finally convinced mum that I should be using that patch as an extra vegetable bed and faithfully promised to plant some rhubarb crowns next month when they become available! I will now have the space required to grow it. No more feuds!! I’ll also be able to extend my range of crops and/or give one of the other beds a bit of a rest now and then.
    For all you rhubarb eaters, here is another cooking tip.
    Cut rhubarb stalks into 3-4 cm pieces. Add a punnet or two of halved strawberries. Place in a baking dish and sprinkle over some caster (or ordinary white) sugar. Sprinkle on a bit of fresh orange juice. Pop into a moderate oven until the rhubarb and strawberries are soft and a little browned (15-20 minutes? – just keep an eye on them). Cool and serve with some nice icecream, yoghurt or cream. Absolutely delicious.
    I’d better get the shovel out and start digging!!

  4. 4 Merren Kelly May 14, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Hi fellow rhubarb devotee,
    I have this very evening proudly brought home a bunch of those bright red stalks and a copy of “Jamie at Home” series 2(where he cooks up rhubarb)in celebration of my strategic victory in the garden.Tonight we will feast on Rhubarb Crumble and drink to a very prosperous harvest.
    Love to you all,
    MUM !

  5. 5 Arthur Kelly May 15, 2010 at 1:18 am

    And all along I was thinking it was me who had a strategic victory. Funny how one’s perception of things depends on the angle you are coming from isn’t it. Looks like we’ll have to settle this with rhubarb stalks at two paces!!
    The rhubarb and apple crumble for dinner last night was delicious as always.

  6. 6 Annaleise May 15, 2010 at 1:56 am

    Wow, that rhubarb crumble! Yum! That does look like a cheery sort of dish to have laid in front of you!

  7. 7 Samantha May 15, 2010 at 2:01 am

    Haha! Impressed with your compromise Arthur and Merren, mostly because the result will be more veggies and yummy rhubarb meals!!! Luv lots xoxox

  8. 8 Mirjam May 16, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Oh I love rhubarb! My parents have a real “Rhubarb Forest” in their garden. My mum always serves it cooked with some sweet vanilla pudding and strawberries in it. That tastes like childhood. And she often makes a delicious rhubarb cake, I think she made one yesterday and I will have a big piece of it this afternoon…
    And the spring: don’t worry about that. Here in Germany the old people have the belief that in may four saints bring a lot of bad weather. They are called Servats, Pankratz, Sophia and Nepomuk. They leave us on may 16th (today!!!!!!) and then spring really starts. This year I really hope that there is a bit truth in this old belief. We will see what tomorrow will bring….
    Have a nice sunday with a lot of rhubard…

    • 9 mavisandfrank May 16, 2010 at 11:54 am

      Rhubarb cake, that sounds delightful. I’d love a recipe. Glad to hear the bad weather won’t last forever, I was beginning to think Spring would never come. It’s certainly a more drastic change of season than I’ve ever seen before, but the sun has to be there somewhere!

  9. 10 Mirjam May 16, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I will ask her for her secret recipe and try to translate it…

  10. 11 Julia Bell May 19, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Ahhhh Alas and Alak, Ally the rhubarb is not pink. It may seem a dramatic statement, and I should perhaps fill you in. When we moved in, through no action of our own, the rhubarb began to pinken up!! I had no idea what to do, and only the words “the leaves are poison- on on on on, do not eat them- em em em” echoed through my brain. I do not know much if anything at all about gardening it seems. It has, since then turned back to white. So Alas.
    However Im sure you would be glad to know, in addition to the carrots, beets, and terribly flawed broccoli and cabbage that we have slaved over, again through no action of our own, we have been blessed with:
    tomatoes (two lots!)
    and an eggplant
    Lawry nearly wet his pants when he discovered that the eggplant
    was an eggplant and had grown even though we hadnt planted it 🙂
    I can only assume you did something magical that has seen this round of garden delights pop up, and I will be sure to keep you posted.
    (oh yes, the furry tongue leaf plant was sage! hahah! I will turn into a knowledged and greened lady one day… maybe)

    • 12 mavisandfrank May 20, 2010 at 10:36 am

      What I did was make compost and then put it on the beds. The seeds germinate and you get “volunteer plants” – ie free food! The pumpkin is a “golden nugget”. Wait till it gets REALLY golden before you pick it, it should almost come away on its own. The first lot I picked way too early. It would taste really good with some of that sage!!

      Hah, I have no idea why the rhubarb temporarily went pink, that clump was my first attempt. Have a look in the Digger’s Club book, that Clive Blazey knows his vegetables, and he’s a bit of a socialist hippie so I think you’d like him 🙂 I’m thrilled you guys got extra veggies!

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