Soon the strawberries will be ready
Monday, June 16, 2014 3:28 AM
I haven't done a lot of cooking lately, but I have been gardening. Doing lots of gardening.
4 cups rhubarb, washed and cut into half-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
3 cups strawberries, washed, cored and sliced
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
Combine first three ingredients in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes or until rhubarb is tender. Meanwhile, combine water and cornstarch, mix well, then add to cooked rhubarb. Bring to a boil, stir constantly, cooking until thickened, about a minute. Remove from heat; stir in strawberries and vanilla.
Serve over ice cream, on unfrosted angel food cake with whipped topping or stir into plain yogurt.
We've had some very fabulous days of not-too-hot weather that have been perfect for spending evenings gardening. But it's a good thing most of my planting is done, because now the neighborhood has been invaded by gnats.
After potting up or planting out various herbs and vegetables, I finally got to the flowers. I'd picked up some great geraniums, petunias and assorted annuals at the P.A.T.T. plant sale at school. But nearly a month passed before I had the luxury of just planting flowers in my usual planters.
Because there were extra plots available at our city community garden, I signed up to plant an additional one. This too, required another couple of evenings worth of projects involving eggplants, peppers, sweet potatoes, onions and tomatoes.
One of my earlier projects was getting cherry tomatoes planted in the garden plot at the rear of our house. I love having a variety of chocolate cherry, yellow pear and tiny red tomatoes to include in my lunches and have sitting on my kitchen counter for snacking.
Only recently did I come to realize that tomatoes are at their best if they are never refrigerated.
I think I purchased my final allotment of this season's asparagus at tonight's farmers market. Rhubarb was still plentiful, but strawberries are a couple weeks out yet. Because I had a recipe that pairs rhubarb and strawberries, I purchased strawberries at the store so I could cook up a batch of rhubarb-strawberry topping last Friday evening.
Actually, Friday evening was the last day I cooked and soon there won't be any pulled pork leftovers or fruit topping, which we had over ice cream. As the week has begun, I've had repeat bowls of ice cream with topping, plus I tried creating my very own "yogurt with fruit," using the topping.
I have a hunch that my version of this commercial product had more fruit and less sugar in it.
Since my last column, I had a bit of feedback from my husband about things I wrote last time. Months go by and he never reads what I write, until someone from work mentioned a "nice family picture" I'd included and apparently commented that I'd written about his boat.
Perhaps I somewhat skewed that picture and yes, I did misunderstand the "joke" he made about waxing a part of his boat. How did I know it was a joke? I know practically nothing about boats, except they are fun to ride in.
There hasn't been time lately for boat rides. We had a family wedding when my nephew, Levi, got married on a recent Saturday. It was a wonderful surprise to see my brother, Kent, there, having flown in from California for his usual week of Minnesota vacation. It was really great to see so many family members together in one place. I was not sure why I decided to leave my camera at home.
My mother would have brought hers - perhaps I take so many photos for work that somehow I imagined going to a family wedding should not be work.
Because my oldest brother, Kent, has grandkids back here, he usually spends time with them and also with his high school chum, Dennis. I was not sure if the last time I saw him was at my mother's funeral, almost four years ago. I live about an hour's drive from my hometown, near where he stays at his son's rural home.
There was not enough time to talk to everyone and I feel as if I neglected some in lieu of chatting with others. My Uncle Paul was there and sat with me at the same table as several other family members. He was 10 years younger than my mom and only a teenager when I was born.
It was delightful to hear his stories and talk about his love for a woods he owns near where my grandparents lived and farmed in Goodhue County. He proudly told about the trails he mowed through the woods and the diversity of species that have grown back after logging out larger trees, some years ago.
I was glad for the chance to discuss some recent discoveries of a family medical condition, I recently found I shared with Kent and my sister. Although it was a good thing to have the chance to share notes, after coming home I felt kind of sad our talk focused on our health.
However, it was a good thing to talk in person, as I had been thinking I'd give Kent a call, which would have been more preferable to a one-sided email. This reminds me, I got a late evening text on Monday from my youngest brother, Neal, who also lives in California. The question was asked, were all our grandparents born in the U.S.?
I felt bad I only had time for a one-word answer, "yes." Back another generation, well, it would have been another story. Denmark, Sweden and Norway were points of origin from further back generations. However, my dad's family had been around the continent going back to a ship coming from England, not long after the Mayflower (except his one grandfather, who came from Denmark).
We are a mix of nationalities, but treasuring each. And though family members have mapped out family trees, how many have mapped out family diseases or can recall back more than one generation what afflicted aunts, uncles or grandparents? In our family, this is not readily available information.
But back to the recipe. When we don't have a lot of time for cooking or making things from scratch, simple recipes are important. I recently found a set of recipes on the Minnesota Farmers Market Association website that are meant to be demonstrated at markets.
The simplicity of these vegetable and fruit recipes, featuring locally grown crops, struck me. I also thought about some comments I heard on the cooking show, "The Splendid Table," aired on public radio, during my drive to church.
The author of a cookbook talked about the importance of having food that tastes good, while still being healthy. That's just it - who wants to eat mundane tasting food, just because it is healthy?
The recipe I am sharing is simple, and perfect for those who enjoy the taste of rhubarb, sweetened naturally by strawberries. It calls for a limited amount of sugar, which might be increased slightly, if preferred. This recipe is another one supplied to the Eyota Farmers Market by the Olmsted County Health Department.
It cooks quickly from start to finish.