Monday, June 2, 2008

Fresh spring rhubarb

As I write this, I'm anxiously jerking my head towards the screen every few seconds. It's possibly the final game of this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the game's gone into a very intense round of overtime. Please excuse any typos--my heart's a-flutter!

I'm very lucky to have grown up in a part of Ontario where farmers abound. Not that I appreciated the abundance of fresh produce when I was a kid, of course. But I do appreciate it now when I go home to visit my family, as I did this weekend.

My hometown is located in Essex County, which means I live near Leamington, the self-proclaimed "Tomato Capital of Canada" and also, not-so-coincidentally, the location of an enormous Heinz factory. My dad grew up on a farm; my boyfriend grew up on a farm (his grandparents') and it seems that most everyone in Essex County has ties to farming.

It's no surprise, then, that I consider my home county the best place I know to find fresh, affordable produce. The farmer's markets of the cities I've lived in since -- London (Ontario)'s Covent Garden Market; Main Street Markham's Farmer's Market -- just seem like pale, overpriced imitations of what I'm used to. They'll do, but they just can't match the prices of back home.

My roadside fruit stand purchase from this weekend was fresh rhubarb, and lots of it. I got two mountainous piles of two-feet long rhubarb stalks for $4:

It was definitely a great buy. Now, I'm looking for a way to use it up. Last year I only bought enough to make strawberry-rhubarb applesauce and rhubarb sorbet. This year I'd like to be more ambitious. A bunch of the rhubarb will be going in the freezer so I can try different rhubarb recipes past the end of the season. Here are some recipes I've got my eye on:

The jam and cupcakes sound particularly wonderful, although I'm partial to meringues and jam. Do you have any other suggestions? Please leave them in the comments or send me an email at kaitsplateATgmailDOTcom.


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