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Rhubarb: Springtime flavor

By Nora Sweat


There are many wonderful things about springtime, but one of my favorites is rhubarb.

Next to our chicken house when I was growing up, my mom grew two things that became available for our dinner table come spring: Asparagus and rhubarb.

I always thought that rhubarb looked like red celery; but later found out there is also a green variety. My mother made wonderful rhubarb pies and stewed rhubarb.

I am so delighted to find rhubarb in nearby groceries and love to cook it into a tart mixture that Mom served similar to apple sauce. We have been trying to start a rhubarb garden at our house, but lost it last year to winter temperatures. Mike has planted six more plants this year, closer to the house and not out in the open where cold weather will affect it.

It seems now with cookbooks galore and recipes as close as your computer’s Google search, there are so many more ways to prepare rhubarb. If you never have tried it, give it a try. You may have a new addition to your dinner table. It is very tart, but can be made sweet with the addition of sugar or Splenda.

If the product is not red enough in color, you can add a drop or two of red food coloring.

Rhubarb can be grown in full sun in a well-drained garden place. The first year you should not harvest any so it will grow and establish. After that, select stalks and discard leaves carefully as they are poison to animals.   Nora Sweat, a lifelong resident of Hardin County and a retired home economics/family and consumer science teacher, now works at the Hardin County Schools Performing Arts Center. You may e-mail her at norasweat@thenewsenterprise.com.   Strawberry Rhubarb Pie 4 cups chopped rhubarb 2 cups sliced strawberries 1 1/3 cups sugar ¼ cups cornstarch 1 tablespoon lemon juice ¼ teaspoon cinnamon 1 egg, beaten Pastry for a two-crust pie Line a 9-inch pie pan with pastry. Trim crust, leaving one-half inch hanging over the pie plate. Combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and cinnamon. Place in pie shell. Roll out remaining pastry and cut into one-inch strips and form lattice top for pie. Brush lattice strips with beaten egg. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes in a 425 degree oven. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue to bake for 50 to 60 minutes until crust is golden. Source: www.donogh.com   Rhubarb Crunch ½ cup melted butter 1 cup flour ¾ cup quick oats ¾ cup brown sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon ½ teaspoon salt 4 cups chopped rhubarb ¾ cup sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1 cup boiling water 1 teaspoon vanilla In medium bowl, combine melted butter, flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Mix until crumbly. Press half of the mixture into an 8-inch or 9-inch square dish. Arrange rhubarb over top of the crumb mixture. In a small saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch. Stir in the boiling water and cook and stir until thick. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour evenly over the rhubarb. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over top. Bake at 325 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Serve warm. Source: www.donogh.com   Rhubarb Pudding 2 cups water 1 1/2 cups sugar (or 2 cups if you prefer a sweeter pudding) 4 cups of rhubarb (small pieces) 1 teaspoons vanilla 1/4 cup cornstarch 1/4 cup cold water Red food coloring (optional) Place water and sugar into a heavy saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add rhubarb and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let the rhubarb simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Add red food coloring, if desired. Remove from the burner and add vanilla. Mix the cornstarch and the water. Gradually stir the cornstarch mixture into the rhubarb. Cook over medium heat until thickened (a minute or so). If the rhubarb pudding seems too thin at this point, mix up another tablespoon of cornstarch in a small amount of water, gradually stir into the pudding and cook for another minute. Allow to cool and spoon into a serving bowl. Chill and serve with whipped cream.