I don’t eat rhubarb though I’m sure one day I will. Kind of like “when I am an old woman, I shall wear purple.” Or as Holly Golightly said about diamonds,”It’s tacky to wear diamonds before you’re 40; and even that’s risky … they only look good on the really old girls … wrinkles and bones, white hair and diamonds. I can’t wait.” My sentiments exactly. With diamond tiaras and crowns of rhubarb in my stars, I look forward to being a woman of a certain age.
My Great-Grandma Sorensen grew rhubarb outside the back door just off the kitchen of her home in Harlan, Iowa. She loved it, especially with strawberry. Each summer, she would stock her pantry with strawberry rhubarb jam and cover her windowsill with strawberry rhubarb pies. My Great-Grandpa had no objections. For her, strawberry rhubarb was the most winning combination. For him, he was the biggest winner. This year, in memory of her, I’m going to pick up where she left off.
Though the distance between what used to be Great-Grandma Inez’s house in Harlan and my in-laws’ in Buckinghamshire is 4,219 miles, there is one thing about these places that’s exactly the same. The summer rhubarb. At the far end of my in-laws’ English garden, past the flowerbeds and my daughter, the Weekend Primrose Fairy, who conjures magic with camellias for wounded ladybugs. . . beyond the bramley apple tree laden with blossom that will (fingers crossed) bring us a bumper crop this September. . . after the greenhouse sheltering sweet peas and cherry tomatoes . . . next to the squash, sorrel, and kale. . . is a row of regal scarlet rhubarb. This weekend I made several crumbles. Below is the recipe. I hope you enjoy it. Actually, I hope my Great-Grandma would have enjoyed it.
2 stalks of rhubarb, chopped into 1 1/2 – 2 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved
1 teaspoon crystallized ginger, chopped
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/3 cup Demerara sugar
1 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup flour
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
a pinch of salt
Preheat oven to Gas 5/375ºF/190ºC.
Place the rhubarb and strawberry pieces in a small ceramic baking dish. Add the brown sugar and crystallized ginger. Gently stir to mix.
In a medium sized bowl, combine the butter, flour, oatmeal, sugar, and salt. Rub with your fingertips until it forms a coarse meal.
Sprinkle the topping over the fruit and bake for an hour or until the crumble is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.
Serve with creme fraiche, Greek yogurt, ice cream or whatever you like. And to eat it like my Great-Grandma did, be sure to have it with a game of Scrabble.