Friday, May 18, 2012

Be-bop, a-Re-bop, Rhubarb Pie

I got a blender for Mother's Day. Now what this brings to mind is the newer Father of the Bride with Steve Martin. The groom-to-be gives the bride-to-be a blender for their anniversary. And that was the WRONG move. Big uproar. Tears. Trepidation. Re-thinking the whole wedding idea. "Is he trying to change me into a Suzy-homemaker?" And ever since, men have mentally debated the wisdom of giving their women kitchen appliances for any major occasion.

But, I asked for a blender. Whew! Disaster averted.=) After almost 11 years, my blender had bit the dust. Growing up, my mom never used a blender, so Mr. Hippie and I didn't even register for one. But some friends of ours figured that must have been an oversight, and they bought us one as a wedding gift. It was the bottom of the line model, but it did my two blender recipes well. (That would be pesto and hummus.) I would occasionally use it for drinks, but my blender is not my workhorse.

Nevertheless, the motor gave up the ghost a couple weeks ago, which meant-no more hummus. Not a good thing in the Hippie household, so Mr. Hippie rectified that situation this past week. I have a brand new Oster blender, and I christened it yesterday with a fresh batch of hummus. Yummy.

In other cooking's rhubarb time! Yea! I love rhubarb. And I have finally figured out how to spell it correctly. Each time.=)

Rhubarb is an OLD plant. The world over, rhubarb is considered a vegetable. Except here in the good old US of A. We are different. In 1947, a New York court ruled rhubarb a fruit.

It all comes down to imports and exports. Tariffs and taxes. Fruits are charged higher tariffs, which decreases imports, allowing domestic farmers a corner on the market. Scientists, though, would still classify rhubarb a vegetable. The whole seed thing.

Rhubarb has been grown for thousands of years. The Chinese have used the roots medicinally those thousands of years. Use of the stalks for food is a rather recent development-the 1700s. Because of rhubarb's extreme tartness, the rise of it's edibility corresponds with the rise of the availability and affordability of sugar.

Rhubarb has a similar look to celery. The plant leaves are triangular, and huge. The stalks range from a crimson red coloring (poetically rhubarb is called "crimson stalks") to a light speckled pink, to a simple green. All are equally edible. Though the darker the red, the tarter it tends to be. Rhubarb flourishes in full sunshine, and is usually one of the first plants of the growing season ready for harvest.

I made my annual trek to a local market for rhubarb this Monday. I cleared out their whole stash. I love making rhubarb jam. It is easy, fail-proof, gorgeous, and delicious. I can many things, but jam has to be about my favorite. I love the colorful, jewel-esk tones, lined up beautifully on my basement shelves. It makes great gifts, and tastes heavenly on fresh bread and biscuits. Here is the recipe I have made year after year since I was a teenager.

Spring Jam

approximately 4 pounds rhubarb, scrub.

Chop off tough ends, and then dice-between 1/2" and 1/4"

Place in a big bowl- 5 cups rhubarb, 3 cups sugar. Refrigerate overnight.

Place in a big pan. It will have "Sweated" overnight.
Bring to boil, and boil 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat. Add one 3 ounce box strawberry jello, for every 5 c rhubarb/ 3 c sugar.
Stir until dissolved.

Pour into jars warmed with hot water.
Wash off rims. Place on sterilized lids, and rings.
Hot bath process for 5 minutes.

Now, isn't that gorgeous!

Bonus pic. She took her own shirt off yesterday. At 11 months.
Here in the Hippie household, we are fans of Prairie Home Companion, in addition to rhubarb jam.=) Many a Saturday night finds us be-bopping in our living room to their toe-tapping music. We love the dramas, the ketchup chronicles, and "Rhubarb Pie." So, for your listening pleasure, Be-bop, a-Re-bop, Rhubarb Pie.=)

And now I'm off to some barefoot gardening.=)