I Heard Someone Say “Rhubarb”

Today I bought a bunch of rhubarb at the Farmer’s Market downtown. I passed by several stands before I came to one that looked to have a very nice selection of ruby-red stalks with some green parts in between.

“This is all grown on a farm in Elk River,” the lady said to me from behind the stand.

“It looks beautiful,” I said. I thought it looked like a real bargain too at $2 a bunch. Other stands were selling their rhubarb for $3 or $4 a bunch and the colors weren’t as vibrant.

“The honey dew is a $1 each,” she said as she opened a plastic bag. My friend and I looked at the large melons, and we looked at each other and laughed.

“No, we both ride the bus, and it would be too much to cart on there. I can just imagine the melon rolling down the aisle,” I laughed.

“Well, we don’t want to haul it back either!” she said. She packed up the rhubarb for me, and away we went.

It all started about a month ago when I heard someone say rhubarb. I started to think about the rhubarb sauce my Mom used to make for us when I was a little kid. She served it to us warm over cold vanilla ice cream.  I searched recipes on-line, looked through my own cookbooks to see what recipes I could find for rhubarb sauce, but deep inside I knew that I really wanted to use the recipe that my Mom used for her rhubarb sauce.  I wish I knew I wanted that recipe way before now.

Today when I got home, I searched through Mom’s recipe box and cookbook for the first time since I became their new owner. The recipe box had tabbed dividers that said: Beverages, Bread, Cake, etc. When I found casserole recipes under the Sauce tab, I figured out that Mom didn’t divide the recipes up accordingly, so I leafed through the entire box. There I found the many recipes that I typed up for Mom when I was just a little kid. I loved to type away on the old black typewriter. It was the kind that had ink on a ribbon and you had to push the keys down so far that you built very nice muscles in your fingers. It didn’t work from any electrical energy. It was all done by manpower. Those lovingly typed up recipes were mixed in with Mom’s handwritten index cards and lots of recipes cut out of newspapers. I found a pepper enchilada recipe that sounded good, but there was not a recipe for rhubarb sauce.

I pulled down the large green cookbook from the top shelf of the pantry in the kitchen. The Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book, © 1942-1946, informed me that rhubarb is a vegetable even though it is usually served as a fruit. I always wondered! Many pages are devoted to rhubarb, but page 254 explains how to make spiced rhubarb, stewed rhubarb, baked rhubarb and rhubarb sauce. My own Betty Crocker Cookbook doesn’t even have that many options! The rhubarb sauce from Mom’s book called for lots of water and cornstarch, and I knew that wasn’t right. I decided to try the stewed rhubarb:

  1. Clean and cut 2 pounds of rhubarb in 1-inch lengths. Place in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of water and 2/3 cup of sugar.
  2. Cover and simmer over low heat 12 to 15 minutes or until tender but not mushy.
    Makes about 3 cups.

I cooked it a little too long, and it looks a little mushy. It tasted okay but not as good as Mom’s. I’ll always wonder if this is the right recipe, or did she just make it up on the way every time even though it always tasted the same. Now, for the rest of my days, I will be trying to figure out how to make rhubarb sauce that tastes just as good as Mom used to make.

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15 thoughts on “I Heard Someone Say “Rhubarb”

  1. This reminds me of the many times I have wanted to recreate one of my grandma’s many recipes. She had box upon box of written recipes, typed recipes and recipes cut from newspapers and magazines. The recipes for the favorite things she used to make for us can rarely be found. My mom told me that my grandma did much of her cooking on a whim, using her sense of creativity to make things up as she went along. (I’ve never been good at improvising in the kitchen! I need a recipe.) So I know exactly how you feel about rhubarb sauce. We grow rhubarb in our back yard and now I’m curious to make rhubarb sauce. I’ll let you know if I find a good recipe!

    • That would be great if you could find and share a good recipe for rhubarb sauce!

      I always missed my Grandpa’s salad dressing, and I think I figured it out last week when I made a new recipe. It was two tablespoons of olive oil, two tablespoons of lemon juice and a little salt. It reminded me of Grandpa!

      I always envied people who could cook as they go along. I always need a recipe too!

    • Yes, our typewriter was really old, an antique! It had little gold keys that you had to press all the way down. I’m surprised that I didn’t get bored typing on that old typewriter! It sounds like you know what I’m talking about!

      • Ours was much newer but clearly things hadn’t changed much in the world of typewriters; you needed more force to hit a key than at that legendary fairground game! I loved it though. Hm, I wonder if that explains why I’m such a ‘heavy’ typist now! 🙂

  2. I remember typing up recipes on a typewriter and I still have them. I no longer have old family recipes. Makes me wonder where they went. I’ll keep an eye out for your recipe. Now I’m reminded how much I love strawberry rhubarb pie. I pictured your melons rolling down the aisle when you mentioned it. Funny.

    • Thanks, Mary! It’s funny how I don’t really like strawberries that much, but when the strawberries are mixed in with rhubarb, I like it a lot more!

    • I know what you mean! I could have asked Mom for the rhubarb sauce recipe, but I didn’t really even miss it until now. I think I’ve suddenly developed a huge craving for rhubarb ~ weird!

      • Rhubarb and Apple Sauce

        Preparation 15 min
        Serves 2

        1 shallot, finely chopped
        little oil, for frying
        3 apples, peeled and chopped
        3 sticks rhubarb, peeled and chopped
        2 tbsp sugar
        2 tbsp cider vinegar

        Cook the shallot in a little oil until soft.
        Add the apple, rhubarb, sugar and vinegar. Simmer with the lid on for 20-25 min, until softened.

        Excellent served with roast pork

        🙂

      • No, I’m still scarred from childhood rhubarb memories! That and I’ve never got hold of any. Maybe even without the savoury ingredients, the apple could be the missing texture that you’re looking for? 🙂

  3. My mother made rhubarb sauce a lot when I was growing up. The beautiful pink color and wonderful aroma always tricked me into taking a big mouthful. As a child, I wasn’t prepared for the pucker power of this vegetable but, today, I can’t get enough. The tangy notes in this rhubarb sauce are a perfect foil for fatty meats and poultry like pork and duck.

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