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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rhubarb Leaves are Poisonous

My mother always had rhubarb in the garden. We would get a bowl of sugar and eat a stalk of rhubarb, dipping the stalk into sugar after every bite. We would alternately pucker in mock agony over the tart taste and reach for more.

When I left home, I abandoned rhubarb as a tortured treat; however my new family home had a colossal rhubarb plant in the garden. What do you do with 10 pounds of rhubarb? Eat five pounds of sugar? I would harvest the rhubarb and foist it onto our neighbours. I split the root and redistributed it among friends. I transplanted the plant to a neglected place in the garden to curtail its fertility. It took me years to learn to cook with rhubarb and appreciate its unique taste. Now the shoe is on the other food and I have a neighbour who has no ideas about rhubarb. This recipe is dedicated to him.

Rhubarb Sour Cherry Compote This sauce has a more sophisticated pucker factor and is fantastic with French vanilla ice cream.

2 cups/250 mL of rhubarb stalks, sliced thinly
2 cups/250mL GF sour cherries in syrup
1 cup/250 mL white sugar
2 tablespoons/30 mL cornstarch + 2tbsp/30 mL cold water

Put first three ingredients, sliced rhubarb, sour cherries, and sugar into a heavy saucepan. Stir until sugar dissolves. Cook over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Reduce the heat and simmer until rhubarb is tender.

Mix 2 tablespoons/30 mL of cold water with the cornstarch. Once the rhubarb is tender, add this to the mixture. The mixture will appear cloudy. Cook, while stirring, until the mixture becomes clear and thickens. Remove from heat.

Dear neighbour. Thank you for the offer of the rhubarb. I helped myself. I know you are unfamiliar with this vegetable since it isn't native to your country. I thought this recipe would help you the next time you are inundated with rhubarb. Thank-you kind neighbour for your generosity. Oh... that pile of leaves I left should be discarded. I'm sorry, I forgot to tell you that rhubarb leaves are poisonous.

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