Cooking with rhubarb and small children

Since my headline is anything but, I’d like to make it absolutely clear I didn’t cook Ramona. The idea is occasionally tempting.

So, for the full explanation of our adventures in growing rhubarb, and a great recipe for stuffing apples with rhubarb, see Great British Chefs. Because, yes, I’ve been lucky enough to get another post featured and I am One. Happy. Woman. With any luck – and if I can pull my finger out – this will be a slightly more regular occurrence. I’m feeling sufficiently buoyed by my unusually positive experience with an almost-three-year-old in the kitchen that I might let down my guard further and attempt something a bit more complicated.

It might also involve rhubarb, because I’m getting a little wee bit obsessed with it. Every time a tiny shoot of it gets large enough to munch on, I rip it up, slice it fairly thinly and simmer it in a small puddle of melted butter with a sprinkling of sugar so that it becomes a soft, eye-wateringly tart and delicious compote for porridge or yogurt – and even, one morning, a toast topping. Sadly, I can’t much get Ramona involved in this process – knives! hobs! hot butter! – though I did use the magic of Sam I Am to get her to try the resulting gloop after she announced without tasting it that she didn’t like it. She then stole the remainder in my bowl and snaffled it happily.

As an aside: she’s actually not at all a fussy eater – her key list of dislikes at the moment amounts to peanut butter and bell peppers, and even then she’d eat the latter if they were cooked and concealed. Not exactly things she can’t live without, anyway; we get no-sugar-added peanut butter, but it still has plenty of unnecessary salt.

My challenge now is how to eat more rhubarb without eating more sugar. I already eat far too much and am looking to make some reductions; nothing terrifying, just making sure most of the sugar I eat comes from vegetables and fruit, rather than being added, and that I reduce the amount of baked goods I eat in general, including bread.

So how is unsweetened rhubarb to be eaten, short of wincing and gulping until my battered taste buds learn to cope (that’s an option)? In a fit of attempted common-sense thinking, I loaded up the fruit bowl with apples, on the basis that perhaps mixing the ‘barb with sweeter fruit would increase the fructose content overall and balance out the tartness. Perhaps a few berries in there as well?

And what about potentially including it in savoury food? Or is that too Masterchef? All suggestions welcome.

When we moved in, back in September, there was still loads of rhubarb growing, so I’m hoping we’re going to get the Doctor Who of rapidly regenerating crops here. There are at least four crowns of it growing away, and one even survived my ill-conceived (and, it must be said, ill-intentioned) butchery in those days before I actually tried eating it and discovered its awesomeness. It’s possible Green Eggs and Ham has struck a chord with more than one Goldstein.

And to finish this vague ramble about what I reckon could be the most divisive vegetable since Brussels sprouts, some photos I didn’t use for GBC. Outtakes, if you will. No, I can’t explain the random heap of aubergines in the background, and yes, I would normally use actual butter but we’d run out.

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One response to “Cooking with rhubarb and small children

  1. Hi Alexandra,
    I have one favourite savory recipe – a lamb stew with rhubarb and celery or herbs. It comes from Margaret Shaida’s book, The Legendary Cuisine of Persia. There is a similar recipe in Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book.

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