Saturday, April 30, 2011

Watch out! Here it comes!

Our first harvest of the year is just around the corner: Rhubarb!

Every spring and summer, we get an insane amount of it.  In the last two years, we've made two batches of strawberry rhubarb jam and probably over a dozen rhubarb (insert your favorite berry or fruit here) crisps and cobblers.  And that's not including what happens to the stalks that we give away readily.

I wasn't a huge fan of rhubarb growing up, the feeling of "celery" in my mouth when I was supposed to be eating pie was weird.  But, its insistence on being in my face and trying to take over the garden has forced me to cook with it, and now I love it.

It freezes well too.  I just leave it as stalks, stack them nicely in a plastic bag, and throw 'em in the back of the freezer.  They thaw a little mushy, but mushy means no "celery" in my desserts.  You just have to chop them while they're still a little frozen to avoid mush on your cutting board.

The rhubarb seems to love the sad excuse for spring weather that we've been having because it's flourishing.  The stalks are super thick and the leaves are HUGE.  (The chickens like a snack of it too, don't worry, it doesn't seem to be poisonous to them.)  Seeing it going crazy like this reminded me that I still had a few pounds of it left in the freezer from last year, right next to a pint of blackberries that we picked at the end of the summer.  I knew just what to do...

It's Blackberry Rhubarb Crisp time!

Here's my tried and true recipe that's super easy to memorize:

The Fruit Part:
4 cups blackberries
4 stalks rhubarb
one cup of sugar
1/4 cup of instant tapioca

For the crumble/crisp topping:
1/3 cup flour
3/4 cup oats
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup brown sugar

Mix up the fruit ingredients and crumble ingredients separately.  You'll want to mix the fruit ingredients and let them sit for about 30 minutes to make the tapioca happy.  This also brings out all the bright red juices.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Pour the fruit into a 13x9 baking dish and top with the crumble topping.  I don't actually know how long I baked this for, maybe 25-30 minutes.  I usually just wait until all the edges are bubbling nicely and the delicious smell of the fruit permeates the house.

Now here's the hard part: you have to wait till it cools a bit before you dig in, for danger of scalding your whole mouth with the hot molten magma that is your crisp.  I promise, it's worth the wait.  And, waiting for it to cool a bit will also prevent your ice cream that you put on top to melt too quickly.  Oh, did I forget to mention ice cream?  Sorry.  Vanilla is the best, but I bet other flavors are delicious too. 

 It's just a matter of time before jam will be in the making... (since I just bought a pint of terrible strawberries.  Duh Hana, it's not quite strawberry season yet.)

(There would be a picture of the cobbler with a scoop of ice cream in top, but we ate it all and forgot to take a picture of it. Instead, this one will have to do...)

Thinkin' about taking a nibble...

Oh, and it looks like we've decided on our chick breeds, and according to the chick calendar at the feed store, May 13th should be their due date.  I can't wait!

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