So much rhubarb in this week’s CSA basket. I still haven’t dealt with last week’s offering. Green apple hued stalks with blushes of pink are piling up in my refrigerator. What to do….What to do…?
I worked in a couple of flower shops during high school and most of college. My very first day on the job, come to think of it, was around this time of year. Putting together bouquets of fresh ruffly ranunculus, cabbage roses, delicate freesia was the main purpose of my job and I loved it. Even though I was indoors, the doors of every shop I worked in were always left wide open this time of year bringing in the scent of a grandmother’s garden from pots set on racks out front. Traditional and maternal lilac and hyacinth flavored spring mornings. Many years later and I still can’t walk past one of those heavily perfumed lovelies without being taken back instantly to my hard-working teenage years. There was a small tropical section too. Red and pink Ginger, Birds of Paradise, heavy heads held up by long and thick stems arrived weekly from Hawaii, Mexico and South America. Not a day went by that I didn’t wonder what it was like to live so far away–so tropically far away.
This afternoon, in the quiet of my house, while the kids were in class counting down the final days left of school and the husband at work most likely counting down the hours until the three-day weekend, I was making a vanilla and orange-scented rhubarb compote with the zippy-zing of fresh ginger. And the floral smells that linger in this kitchen as I write to you are taking me back to those days surrounded by so much beauty.
This was the first time I cooked with a vanilla bean. It was not what I expected. I sliced it open lengthwise looking to find seeds that I would then pop out. Instead I found a dark, fragrant, gooey center. I put my knife down and headed over to this site for a quick education on working with a vanilla bean http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-use-a-whole-vanilla-bean-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-181511
After I carefully scraped out all the precious insides with the back of my paring knife and added it to the pot, I tossed in the vanilla bean pod because I can be reckless like that.
Between the aromatic vanilla and the fresh and lively ginger, my kitchen smelled like a flower shop. Combined with the bright scent of orange and rhubarb, I feel like I spent the afternoon blissed out in a aromatherapy session.
This recipe is inspired by http://www.pbs.org/food/fresh-tastes/rhubarb-compote/
- 1 pound rhubarb stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 -inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated (original recipe calls for 4-in–but that was a little too zingy for me)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- Juice from 1/2 orange, or if squeezing by hand, use a whole orange
- a few tablespoons of water
All ingredients into a medium-sized pot on top of the stove. Begin on medium-low and stir gently until rhubarb becomes soft but still has its shape (5 minutes or so). Turn the heat up to medium, and stir continually for about 10 minutes until it has the consistency of a puree. Take off the heat and let cool in the pot before transferring to a jar. Will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Final note: I swirled some into a bowl of plain Greek yogurt with some raspberries and it nearly knocked my socks off. Seriously, by the time I had finished, I was asking out loud, “Where are my socks?!”