An Ode to Rhubarb

Pie, squares, crisp, yogurt, ice cream, dumplings, muffins, cake. It's rhubarb season and I feel like there isn't a single food we haven't tried to put rhubarb in or on this past month! To me, rhubarb's tart taste is always the signal that warmer weather and sunny days are just around the corner. It's versatility also stirs my creative cooking side- however, I may have taken it too far this year, when after another load of rhubarb arrived from the home farm, my partner-in-crime asked if we could freeze this bunch (oops!). 

While finding rhubarb in the city can be like looking for a very expensive needle in a haystack, I have the best rhubarb hook-up: my family farm just outside of Woodstock, Ontario. Earlier this month, my mom travelled two hours on the train and six subway stops to deliver me a garbage bag full of the stuff (rhubarb ain't light either!). Thanks mom! 

My parents prolific rhubarb "hedge". 

My parents prolific rhubarb "hedge". 

Rhubarb is a great source of fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants (lycopene and anthocyanin). However, with the tart taste, be careful with the amount of sugar you are adding. Sadly, too much sugar dampens the health benefits. With this in mind, when picking stalks, look for the reddest ones as they are sweeter. Also try to mix your rhubarb with naturally sweet fruit such as strawberries, raspberries or apples to reduce the amount of sugar you have to add. 

**Michelle jumping in here for a second (hehe does this count as blogbombing?). After taste testing Kathryn's rhubarb dumplings, I was inspired to try baking with rhubarb too. I was never a fan of rhubarb because of the tart taste, but as I get older I find my taste buds have been accepting of foods I once would never touch. I don't have a beauty rhubarb hedge of my own, but that's why you make friends who do! My friend and I decided to tackle rhubarb pie, but we were a bit rushed for time and we weren't sure how it was going to turn out.  We sort of just winged the whole recipe and hoped for the best. The result got us a gold star from my friend Julia who stopped by for the evening. The true test? My mom liked the pie. When my mom gives a thumbs up, then you know you're golden!**

Here are some snaps of our rhubarb treats of late: 

Kathryn: I'll share my family's favourite rhubarb recipe here: Rhubarb Dumplings. This recipe has been a favourite for so long that I thought my grandma had invented it- but apparently my mom found it in a Canadian Living magazine back when I was a baby (its important to give credit where credit is due!). Enjoy! 

Rhubarb Dumplings

Sauce: 

1 cup sugar 

1 tbsp flour 

1 tsp cinnamon 

1/4 tsp salt 

1 1/2 cups water 

1/3 cup margarine or butter 

1 tsp vanilla 

Dough: 

2 cups flour 

2 tbsp sugar 

2 tsp baking powder 

1/4 tsp salt 

2 1/2 tbsp margarine or butter 

3/4 cups milk 

Filling: 

2 tbsp margarine or butter 

2 cups finely chopped rhubarb 

1/2 c sugar 

1/2 tsp cinnamon 

  1. In a saucepan, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Stir in water and margarine. Bring to a boil, cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Set aside. 
  2. For dough, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk and mix quickly. Do not over mix. 
  3. Roll dough out into a 9"x12" rectangle. Spread with margarine and arrange with rhubarb. Roll up and cut into 12 slices. 
  4. Arrange slices in a 9"x13" dish. Pour sauce over. 
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. 
  6. Optional: Enjoy with Chatelaine Magazine's incredibly easy 3-ingredient ice-cream (no ice cream maker needed!).  

Here is the pie recipe Michelle used:

Rhubarb Berry Pie

Pie Filling Ingredients:

6 cups fruit (3 cups chopped rhubarb + 3 cups mixed berries of your choice)

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch (in reality we actually just used what was left in the container, so we think it was about this much)

1 tsp vanilla

Lemon juice of half a small lemon + zest of the whole lemon

Cinnamon to taste

Pinch of salt

Note: I read so many different recipes for pie crust that when I went to make the dough I was mixing and matching from different recipes and confused myself.  I'm surprised it turned out ok. The only issue was I didn't make enough for the second pie top, so the second pie turned into a crumble (oats, butter, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon). Therefore, I will suggest you use your favourite pie crust recipe -- and please share in the comments below!

Cheers to rhubarb season! 

xo Kath and Michelle 

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