Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Farm to Table: Strawberries!

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.

Further Reading:



  1. Nina..this looks delicious and I am so happy to see that others enjoy audio books in the car as much as I do! I will be adding this one to my list. Have listened to Diane Keaton's book 'Then, Again'. Diane reads it...I loved it.
    Best wishes to you and Jennings..

    Jeanne xx

  2. PS.. oops..thought I was already a Follower. I follow by email too! :)

    1. Oh yay! I follow you too. Actually you go to some pretty great places, I'd follow you there too! :) I love audio books. It does make a difference though, who the narrator is doesn't it? I read The Beach House by James Patterson a few years ago, and though I'm not a huge reader of his books, it was read by Gil Bellows (remember from Allie McBeal?) and he was so good, I didn't want the book to end. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll go over to Amazon and get it. If you put it on your blog, I'll click through your link.

  3. I like the ice cream part....

    Reading your post brought back a flood of memories. In a week or two my Mom will be out back in the garden harvesting her rhubarb. I always looked forward to that sweet/tart tang it would lend to any dish.


    1. Hi John, that is so great. I laugh now when I think about eating it raw from a neighbor's garden. Can you believe? Poor Mr. Studler, I was maybe 8 or 9, and I liked to go over and talk to him while he worked. He probably gave it to me out of self defense, and never thought I would eat it!

  4. There is nothing better than home grown produce, as a matter of fact, there is nothing close. I am going to try this recipe, and thank you for the link.

    1. Hi! Let me know how it turns out! I've found that getting pie-esque baked goods to set has a lot to do with temperature and humidity.


Welcome, and thank you for stopping by! The best part of blogging is the dialogue between friends, so please share your thoughts, memories, stories and ideas with us. We love hearing from you.