rhubarb & our guardian angel

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


This time of year a popular question heard throughout this village, at the post office or maybe at the grocery store, "Need any rhubarb ? " It's very much like zucchini harvesting time - rhubarb season is. Everyone seems to have more rhubarb than they can handle ...

I can remember as a child it seemed there was a big patch of rhubarb growing in every back garden and we'd dare each other to bite into a piece and then screw our little faces up in exaggerated grimaces - more sour than lemons, or so it seemed. And as a child you thought why would anybody eat this stuff ? Last evening as I stood in my kitchen, cutting up my recent gift of a grocery bag filled with rhubarb, into chunks - I was thinking and wondering about how rhubarb ever came to be discovered, how did that person decide that this very fibrous and tart with a capital T stalk of ruby red could be edible, how did they think to add honey or sugar and cook it until it became soft and mushy and sweet and tart at the same time. Or to mix it with other fruits like strawberries, peaches or blueberries. Questions one ponders while methodically and carefully chopping and chunking. Into a plastic bag and into the freezer went my rhubarb and one night this week I will bring it back out and I'm going to make Rhubarb Catsup -

I park my car each and every morning at the end of a dead end road. It's out on the outskirts of town, out on the point where the lighthouse is. I've been taking my dogs to walk there for years and years, 13 or maybe 14 years. Way back in the beginning when it was just Em, Jake and I, we'd park the car and trudge through the overgrown field on our way to the beach and the woman who lived in the last house, at the end of this dead end road would stand in her big picture window and wave at us. Always.

She and her husband are now great friends of ours. Dorothy and Hugh. Dorothy watches for us every morning, she waves when we arrive and she watches for us to leave so that you can wave again. It's always made me feel extra safe and secure walking back where we walk. Alone, just me and my pack of three, because if anything ever happened I've always known ... Dorothy would be watching for us. Sometimes in the summer she'll come with us on our afternoon walk and we'll sit together on the big log that's washed up on the beach at the the end of the grassy lane and we'll sit and we'll all bask in the sunshine awhile. She buys the best and most enticing dog treats in family size bags in case we decide to walk around the back way and come up behind her home and we'll sit on her bottom step and she speaks to Winnie Dixon in the sweetest, most gentle and quiet voice. She loved Em, she loved Jake and we love her. She's our guardian angel.

Dorothy and Hugh gave me the rhubarb and Dorothy also gave me her recipe for Rhubarb Catsup (a chutney like pickle with the consistency of jam) here's the recipe in Dorothy's own handwriting

Dorothy and Hugh enjoy this spread on a roast beef sandwich with thin slices of sweet onion

I plan to add a few extra ingredients to my version. I'll add a couple of cloves of garlic, a big knob of fresh ginger minced, a handful of raisins, and a good sprinkle of chili pepper flakes.


  1. That sounds good. I like Rhubarb with custard. Yum.

    Dorothy and Hugh sound a great couple to know. Your village sounds so friendly. I dont even know my neighbours names.

  2. It's nice to see Dorothy's recipe in her own handwriting... a nice, personal touch. Isn't it a good feeling to have neighbors that you know are always there? Familiar things that are part of daily life...

  3. As I was reading your post, I got the the rhubarb catsup part and thought, "Oh, I hope she'll post the recipe". Then at the end you did! Yay~!

    Love the pic of you and Jake on my guestbook!

  4. Hi Willow, yes I finally was able to post a photo of me and my loves, Em & Jake. Smile.

  5. I have never tasted rhubarb in my life! Sounds like I'm missing something good. The idea of it in chutney like catsup is quite appealing.

  6. I made rhubarb crisp summers when I was growing up. I find some occasionally at a local farmers market, but it's hard to come by in the regular grocery store.

  7. Oh my friend, I would LOVE some Rhubarb! Wish I were there!

  8. I love rhubarb -especially hot rhubarb crumble and custard.


Hey ! We LOVE comments here at 29 Black Street.
Thanks for stopping by.