springing in the rain

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There have been moments this spring that have felt distinctly like winter, and others like deep, late summer.  But mostly it has been a long, cool, wet spring.  The wee baby fuzzy little peaches seem to have escaped that rogue late frost, and the teeny green nubbins on the blackberry bushes are suggesting that they weathered it fine as well.

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The weather has been warm enough that people forget to close the door, with predictable results in the chicken world.  See this action shot below to learn how our ace canine security staff clamps down on such an occasion:

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Yes, that’s the dog moving past the chicken on the door mat; he is saying “pardon me, ma’am,” though you can’t hear it in the photo, as he ambles in to the kitchen to see if he can grab someone’s sandwich off the counter.

Because the temperatures have been mostly cool, and things have been very wet, we are sadly low on strawberries but absurdly blessed with a long rhubarb season. Rhubarb’s value in dessert is pretty well known, and a few of you may also know that the leaves, while poisonous, make an excellent hat.

rhubarb hat

But savory rhubarb is another story.  My mom fed me a rhubarb and chard soup a few weeks ago that used the tartness to great effect with the greens.  It made me think.  Soon enough we were headed to a party, for Suzi’s Ben, who no longer fits so neatly into a tractor bucket with my baby as he used to.

tractor

Asked to make some sauce for the salmon on the groaning board the day we celebrated Ben’s graduation, I eyed the few stalks of rhubarb on the counter with some purpose. This needed to be one fine sauce.

Thanks to all the acidity, the brightness of the greens fades instantly, so the substance was not exactly beautiful.

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But it definitely was fine.

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The sharp tartness of the rhubarb combines with the mellower tang and funky flavor of the lemon; the tiny bit of sweetness from the shallot and the sugar aren’t tasted, exactly–just there for balance in the background.  We all need some.

Happy flying, Ben!

tart rhubarb sauce for grilled, poached & roasted items

  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 2T olive oil
  • 3-4 stalks of rhubarb, peeled if the outer layer is at all tough, and finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 hunk of preserved lemon, minced (about 1T)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp sugar
  • a large handful of fresh spinach, finely chopped (about half a cup of chopped spinach)
  • about 3T of finely chopped fresh dill

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the shallot until it is entirely soft.  Add the rhubarb pieces, the lemon and the lower amount of sugar to the pan and stir and cook a few minutes, until the rhubarb has softened and fallen apart.  You may need a T of water, depending on how much is in the rhubarb (the salt in the lemon will help draw that out) to keep the mixture from sticking, but keep it to a minimum.  You want a thick, glossy slurry, not a soup.  Now add the chopped greens and cook for about a minute. Taste and correct the seasoning to your liking.  You can sprinkle a little fresh dill over the top to make it look sprightly, or just accept its mellow hue.

 

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