A friend gave me the audio book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, narrated by the novelist, Barbara Kingsolver, to listen to in my car. (Jennings is on disk 4) The book is a true story written by Barbara, her husband, and her 18-year old daughter, Camille about their year of living on their Southeast Virginia farm and eating only local foods, or those they grew themselves.
I loved it, and resolved to try to eat foods grown closer to home, and in season. I'm not perfect by any means, I eat salad in December (Thanks California!) and haven't quite given up bananas, but Jennings is a pro. At Poplar Grove, cooking and eating mostly is tied to the seasons, and whatever bounty the garden is offering in any given month.
To find out what is fresh and local right now where you live, just choose your state and the season in the handy chart at Sustainable Table, here.
In Virginia, and many states, this month's bounty is lettuce, spinach, asparagus and hooray, strawberries! Here's a quick and easy recipe for Strawberry-Rhubarb crisp, which combines strawberries with rhubarb, which you'll also find in markets now.
We tested quite a few recipes, and the result is an adaptation of several. We used cornstarch instead of extra flour, because we find that it does a better job of thickening, but if you don't have any on hand, you can use an extra 1/3 cup of flour. We also liked the extra crunch in the recipe from Melissa Murphy of Sweet Melissa Patisserie, who adds chopped walnuts to her topping. And then of course there was Grandma, the only recipe we ran across that adds vanilla, which mellows out the rhubarb a little. Enjoy!
3 cups fresh rhubarb, diced to 3/4 “ (about 4 stalks)
4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved, if large
1 cups granulated sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
½ teaspoon of good vanilla extract (I like Tahitian vanilla for pastry)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup quick-cooking (not instant) oatmeal. I like McCann's
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
First make the crisp:
Toss the rhubarb, strawberries, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and the orange zest together in a large bowl. In a glass measuring cup, dissolve the cornstarch in the orange juice, add the vanilla and cinnamon and then mix it into the fruit. Pour the mixture into an 9x9 -inch baking dish. It’s a good idea to place the baking dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, in case there is overflow.
Then make the topping:
For the topping combine the flour, the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and oatmeal in an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter and mix until the dry ingredients are moist and the mixture is in crumbles. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, covering it completely, and bake for about 1 hour, or until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown.
Serve warm with ice cream. Yum.