A HAPPY SIGN OF SPRING … RHUBARB!

This afternoon I cut an armful of rhubarb .   The first of the season.  My knife sliced through a thick, red stalk.  My mouth puckered,  remembered  taste.  I am eight or nine years old.   We are raiding the rhubarb patch.  Gathering an armful of stalks, faces hidden behind the enormous leaves.  In the watery green hideaway of the vine-covered  summerhouse  we  dip the stalks  into the sugar bowl over and over again.  Sated we make hats of the gigantic leaves . Dance madly,  waving rhubarb like exotic fans.  A pagan ritual.    A sugar high.    Rhubarb is in season.

To avoid a watery rhubarb crisp mix a generous tablespoon of starch into the cut stalks, then put on your topping   Tonight we will  savour one of the most popular prairie desserts, rhubarb crisp with an oatmeal crumb topping.  To gild the lily I’ll add a little whipped cream.  I wish  your  were here to share this dessert with me.

RHUBARB CRISP

6 cups of  rhubarb cut into one inch pieces (you can also use frozen rhubarb with great success.  Bake it frozen)

1 generous tbs cornstarch

For the Topping:

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup old-fashioned  slow cooking  rolled oats (not the instant or 5 minute kind)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

4 oz butter or hard margarine (use the best quality margarine you can buy if this is a diet issue)

a pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Toss your rhubarb with the cornstarch in a shallow baking dish.  The size will depend on much rhubarb you end up using.   This recipe doesn’t have to be too precise on this.   Be generous as rhubarb bakes down.

Using your balloon whisk mix your dry ingredients.   Add the butter cut into small chunks.   Using your fingers, NOT a food processor, blend in your butter until all the dry ingredients are assimilated.  Put this on top of the rhubarb.

Bake on the middle rack of your oven until the rhubarb bubbles along the side of the dish.  About 30 minutes or so. When you are baking any fruit desserts such as crisps, cobblers and so on, this is what you look for .  Fruit doesn’t bubble until it is cooked.

Serve rhubarb crisp with lovely big scoops or ice cream, or  my favorite way, a jug of whipping cream to just pour over it.

CHEF’S NOTE:  You can easily double this recipe.  It doesn’t take much longer to make up.  Then put half in zip lock bag in your freezer.  You have it on hand to make any type of fruit crisp.

This dish also freezes well uncooked.  Excellent for preparing a dessert ahead of time.

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