Monday, June 6, 2011


In the place where I grew up -- there on Brown Avenue in Orofino -- we had a huge rhubarb plant on the alley. My mother liked rhubarb and in the spring she would make rhubarb custard pie and also big pots of rhubarb sauce. But what I remember especially was my dad's fondness for rhubarb. He would pull a rhubarb stalk, sprinkle it with salt and eat it with relish over the kitchen sink. I admit that I didn't take to the raw stalks but my love of rhubarb sauce and desserts continues to this day.

When I married Mike, I discovered a lovely rhubarb plant at the side of our house from which the neighbors on both sides seemed to feel free to pilfer. Probably the previous wife hadn't cared too much for rhubarb and was willing to share. When we moved to our second Lewiston house I planted a lovely red rhubarb plant that was both decorative and delicious. The rhubarb I planted at the town house withered away the first summer and the one I planted at the farm struggles along. Sadly I now have to buy rhubarb.

Last week while Nick and Hallie were here I made rhubarb upside-down cake. With this week's rhubarb purchase, I decided to make a rhubarb custard pie. My mother worked so well with her hands and made beautiful pies with uniformity. I make good pies that aren't beautiful. That's why the recipe for "Country Rhubarb Crostata" on caught my eye. It calls for an unbaked single crust but instead of fluting it, you just fold the edges over the filling "decoratively." How simple! And any lopsidedness just adds to a casual appearance. Perhaps this will become my standard pie crust method.

I had a message from Leah this morning with a recipe for rhubarb parfait. I'll have to try that next. KW


Hallie said...

We wondered where you got the rhubarb. I bet your plan just needs some 10-10-10. :) that looks like a tasty dessert!

Chris said...

Mmmm, I do love rhubarb custard pie!! All our houses but this one had rhubarb plants, and I was so busy (and old-er) when we bought this one, I didn't bother to plant one. I'll have to check with the mister and see about getting one going for next year.

Enjoy that pie! :-) (It's beautiful!)

Kathy said...

I've been getting the rhubarb from the grocery store -- $2.99 lb.

I pulled the grass back from the plant and fertilized it. We'll see what happens.

Kathy said...

You and I were here at the same time, Chris. If you like rhubarb, then you should definitely find a place for a plant in your big yard. It would look nice there.

debdog42 said...

I've heard several times from old timers that rhubarb plants LOVE horse manure!

Leah said...

$3.99 a lb. was what I paid for rhubarb about 10 days ago. Darn. Everything's more expensive in So. Calif. The rhubarb parfait was superb, though. Instead of plain Greek yogurt I used lemon yogurt in some of the dishes. Good both ways. I rated the parfait recipe a "Yummy."

I have no memory of people growing rhubarb or eating rhubarb when I was a kid. That must have been a dessert many times in my childhood, because as an adult, I eat rhubarb pie at restaurants whenever I see it on a menu. I am fascinated by rhubarb recipes and your custard pie and Crostata sound wonderful, Kathy.

Rhubarb facts. Rhubarb is known as "pie plant" in the south. Ben Franklin brought it to America and the Russians brought it to Alaska. I love the use of "rhubarb" to mean a "heated discussion." The leaves of the plant are toxic.

The younger generation doesn't know anything about rhubarb. When I made my recent purchase, the girl at the checkout counter asked what it was. I tried to explain how it tasted, but it's one of those things that language doesn't help. I told her to order rhubarb pie at Polly's Pies (family restaurant) sometime.

So interesting that your dad ate rhubarb raw. I wonder if he learned that from his dad.

Kathy said...

Ooh! oooh! I have that natural stuff from horses. I'll put some on my rhubarb plant. Thanks for mentioning it, Deb.

I have to say, Leah, that I also watch for rhubarb recipes. Some are good, others not so much to my taste. I guess that's the way with anything.

Rhubarb is especially good in the spring, they say, when it's tender. But -- I used to pull stalks all summer long.