The beauty and the bane of summer bounty are the kitchen hours required to transform a morning’s abundance into delicious treats. On blue sky, temperature-perfect days just made for hours of pleasure on my screened porch knitting the 4-Day Fireworks KAL sweater, I joined the women of ages past toiling in summer kitchens. Admittedly, my experience was far more pleasant as my work time was spent in air conditioned comfort with good tunes coming from surround sound. Some of the tasty delights will be eaten immediately and some will be stashed in our small deep freeze to be enjoyed on frigid winter days as a talisman against the cold and a sunny reminder that spring will come, even in the North Country.
My Sunday & Monday garden-to-kitchen yield:
Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins – two dozen regular-sized and 24 minis using a recipe shared by Betty D. from Older Mommy Still Yummy
Having returned from Eau Claire with a large bunch of tartness, tonight we will enjoy a freshly baked crisp, topped with newly mixed Crème fraîche and served with Rhubarb Daiquiris. Mom’s patch is overflowing with hefty stalks, so full my harvest went undetected. In contrast, our small cluster of thin stems barely able to support the large triangular leaves struggles. I suspect the ginormous root system of the neighbor’s black walnut to be the unhealthy culprit. While the tree is gone, the natural chemicals genetically designed to give this once deciduous giant an advantage, may still be contributing to unhealthy dirt. After all – who cannot grow rhubarb?
The old wives’ tale declared rhubarb poison after the 4th of July although how a vegetable could or would negatively alter its chemical structure to coincide with a US holiday is a horticultural mystery. In reality and referencing a much more reliable source, the University of Minnesota Agricultural Service, it is best to harvest this vegetable from early spring through the end of June allowing the remainder of the summer growing season to replenish the energy needed to winter over in our harsh northern clime. So while Mom’s rhubarb patch is still tempting me with its verdant leaves, it is best left to rest. Making this my last Rhubarb Crisp of the season.
There are as many rhubarb crisp recipes as there are bakers. This one is tried and true from Mom. The combination of ingredients and ease makes it Richard’s and my favorite summer dessert especially with a dollop of freshly made Crème Fraîche.
Always on the lookout for new rhubarb adventures, there have been summers when I have experimented with rhubarb’s versatility – drinking rhubarb daiquiris or grilling with rhubarb barbeque sauce. May be it is Covid related but for this summer’s baking treats I focused entirely on old favorites: breads, crisps, muffins, and scones.
The first of the season – Rhubarb Pecan Scones. A delicious blend of spring tartness and warm nuttiness. An easy to make breakfast treat from the Rhubarb Renaissance by Kim Ode published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.