R Is For Rhubarb

Photo credit: CLG20171/Flickr

I was not familiar with rhubarb. My mom never ventured with the tart and fibrous vegetable that needed an abundance of sugar and fuss. I discovered rhubarb from my mother-in-law, Helga Martin. She grew it! There was a big cluster of the purply red stalks growing happily on the edge of her garden. She planted one in 1963 and nurtured it for 50 years!

Helga cut and simmered rhubarb stalks in a lot of sugar until it cooked down to a thick syrup. Rhubard is very very tart and needs sweetness to make it edible. When my daughters were little, we would bring her a bucket of fresh strawberries from our strawberry picking outings in June. Grandma ‘Round-the Corner, as my girls called her since she lived around the corner from us, would add the strawberries and more sugar to the rhubarb. She made her own flaky pie crust that could hold the heavy concoction and baked the most amazing strawberry rhubarb pie. I never came close to repeating those beautiful pies. My sister-in-law, Carla holds the secrets. She also harvests rhubarb, cooks it down with fresh farm strawberries and drowns home baked pound cake in it. Heaven.

According to the nutrition experts, rhubarb contains an abundance of vitamins and minerals and is an excellent source of fiber. Both Helga and Carla had only cooked rhubarb in pies and cakes with a one to one ratio to sugar. I researched recipes to conclude that rhubarb is only edible with a one to one ration to sugar. All those nutritional benefits are deliciously moot.

Welcome to my Blogging A-Z April 2018 Challenge. My theme is Food Stories Remembered because there is always a story when food is involved. I consider myself a good home cook with a great appetite for hearty food. I have witnessed the creation of favorite recipes in friends’  kitchens and have learned from the best—my mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law. Recipes may be included. I am remaining uncommitted on this because when I cook, I seldom measure.  If you try any of my recipes, you are cooking at your own risk.  Grab a glass of wine. Hope you’re hungry!


Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The memoir is a wimpy patient’s journey through her first year of breast cancer treatment.

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15 thoughts

  1. 4-19-18 Hi Antoinette, As kids we were told that the rhubarb leaves were poisonous. Is there any truth to that old wives tale? I found this. “Rhubarb leaves contain dangerously high levels of oxalic acid which can cause serious kidney damage potentially leading to death. Even though a 140 pound person would need to eat about 10 pounds of rhubarb leaves to die, a small amount still has the ability to make a person sick.Jul 27, 2010”

    Are you at liberty to reveal how many copies of Hug Everyone have been sold? Mozeltov, Joseph

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did research a bit and all articles warned not to eat the poisonous leaves. As for book sales, I should be getting a statement in a month or so. At this point I am guessing it has been a slow yet steady.


  2. Our rhubarb plant is not flourishing. I think it is too dry where it is and we may have to pick a better spot. It certainly takes a lot of sugar which is supposed to be the evil behind every ailment nowadays. Mixing it with strawberries is a good idea. I wonder would that obviate the need for sugar.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We don’t get rhubarb here in Delhi but my mother in Germany loves it and I get to eat it if I visit her when rhubarb is in season. I love food that is tart and rhubarb is definitely that. Lovely post Antoinette.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ‘Grandma-Round-the’Corner’ is a wonderful name. One of my Grandmothers (whom I called ‘Mimi’) grew rhubarb in her garden as well. She also made delicious rhubarb-strawberry pies that I haven’t had since I was a child. Thank you for stirring up such warm childhood memories. I suddenly have a craving for fresh-from-the-oven, homemade pie!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I do love rhubarb and custard, or rhubarb pie and custard! But you’re right. It uses a lot of sugar and sugar is not good for us. So it really needs to be eaten as a treat!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I might’ve had rhubarb once, but it’s definitely been out of favour here for many years. That said, I might keep my eye out and made a crumble. That said, I’ve been putting off making Mars Bar Slice and the Mars Bars are in the fridge. Humph…Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble and Mars Bar Slice….I might need to join a gym.
    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

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