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Verses from my Kitchen: Welcome to Spring: Rhubarb & Berry Crumble

May 27, 2011

Welcome to Spring: Rhubarb & Berry Crumble

It's amazing how the week following a long weekend always manages to wear me down. Each new day is just as relentless as the one before and the grind of the work day leaves me battered and bruised emotionally. I feel restless and tired and overworked. In four simple days my beautiful weekend away has been overturned by long days with shorter nights. Sleep disowns me.

The first couple of days back from an extended weekend seem particularly long and drawn out. The alarm in the early morning hour signals the harsh reality of work. The noise outside by house seems deafening as the early weekday traffic is already in full gear. My need for one more hour of sleep is immediately squashed when my cell phone starts ringing. This is my welcome back.

As hard as it is to get back into the swing of things, the blow is softened by the bright sun and warm weather. Her warmth whispers to me and fills me up. Spring has a way of making everything seem a bit better than it really is.

There are signs of new life almost every day as I pass landscaped yards that have slept dormant during the cold and blustery winter months. People working on their gardens and eldery couple working in tandem while taking care of their property. And the kids. I love the sounds the kids make as I drive past school yards on my way to work. It's refreshing.

All week I'd been anticipating Thursday. Why? The week is almost finished, for one. But also, we were having guests over and the market in one of my neighbouring cities opens up for the weekend. The selection of locally farmed goods is vastly superior to my local market down the street. Walking down the outside aisles renews my faith as the aroma captures me and takes me hostage. Even if just for a minute. And the warm breeze accompanies from farmer to farmer.

As I pass each market stand I see bundles upon bundles of rhubarb. Some green with soft hints of pink and others vibrant red and powerful. And the faces behind the stands tell the tale of hard work and dedication so I can have such a beautiful selection to choose from. Beside each bundle of rhubarb are pints and pints of fresh berries. They sit beside each other in harmony, as if knowing how wonderful they are when paired together. It's intrinsic.

I walked through my door last night happier than the days that preceded it. I can feel the breeze pouring through the windows and screen doors and there's one more day knocked off the weekly day timer and only one to go. The smile that stayed with me all through the weekend was making another appearance. Plus, I had big plans for the fruit I picked up. Dessert to go with the friends dropping in.

I love crumbles. I don't discriminate against particular seasons, either. If I'm in the mood for a hot dessert, I don't sit back and wait for the cold months to blow in. I indulge and feel thankful that I'm able to do as I please. So last night I made these Rhubarb and Berry Crumbles to share with our new friends and celebrate the near finish of another stressful week.

My wife and I met Michelle and Ernie at an engagement shoot a little over a month ago. If I take it back even farther, my wife met Michelle in a photography class months before that. They hit it off and she wanted my wife to shoot their engagement session. Wendy was more than happy to and I usually jump at the chance to shoot alongside her. So we did. And the four of us got along and we were friends before the night had closed.

Yesterday they were dropping in to pick up the CD of images from that beautiful spring evening a few weeks back. We try to play the role of good hosts and offer food and drinks to our friends. It's only fitting, right? So as we shared a bottle of wine, I surprised them with this dessert. Luckily, they still had room after an earlier dinner. And we sat around the kitchen table with the screen door allowing hints of fresh air to circle us.

I don't know what was better last night. The near end of another week, the visit with friends or this crumble dessert. Either way, you can't go wrong. And this really is the perfect way to end the week off. With love in a bowl. Stress be gone.
From my kitchen to yours, happy eating!

Rhubarb and Berry Crumble

The Goods:

(For the fruit)
  • 3 cups of rhubarb, washed, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup of blackberries
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp. lime juice plus zest of lime
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp. icing sugar
(for the topping)
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel and wash the rhubarb and then cut into one inch pieces. In a large mixing bowl, add in the rhubarb and berries along with the cornstarch. Add in the lime zest and juice, ground ginger and icing sugar. Mix everything together carefully so the delicate berries don't break up.
  3. Divide the mixture into four buttered ramekins.
  4. In a separate bowl, rub the flour and butter together. Stir in the oats, brown sugar, cardamom, cinnamon and salt. Spoon the mixture on top of the fruit.
  5. Place on a baking sheet in the oven on the middle rack and cook for about 25 minutes, or until the juices start to bubble and the topping browns.


At May 27, 2011 at 11:32 AM , Blogger Maria said...

Your crumble looks fantastic! We have 4 rhubarb plants and I am trying to keep up. Adding this recipe to my list:)

At May 27, 2011 at 12:44 PM , Blogger Cookin' Canuck said...

What a beautiful dessert, Mike. I hope you have a wonderful weekend with your wife and friends.

At May 27, 2011 at 2:10 PM , Blogger Isabelle said...

Lovely photos, as usual. I am in love with those streaks of bright red filling against the white dishes.
I'm dying to get my hands on some spring rhubarb.. it's one of my favourite parts of late spring / early summer. I missed the the opening weekend of my local farmers' market while we were in DC for EWR, but you can bet that I'll be there first thing tomorrow to scoop some up!

At May 27, 2011 at 7:45 PM , Blogger Kimmy Bingham said...

Beautiful post, and you know my love for rhubarb. I'm going to hunt some out this weekend because I'm craving it at this point. I finally found local, fresh asparagus this week as well... we're grilling it this weekend. I can't wait!

At May 27, 2011 at 10:51 PM , Blogger Diethood.com said...

Lovely post! Beautiful food and photos! I just did a strawberry rhubarb crumble... total comfort food. :)

At May 28, 2011 at 11:02 AM , Blogger kelly said...

I love the image of manicured lawns sleeping all winter. I imagined them, brown and sleepy, yawning and turning green as they awaken in the spring.

Also, this crumble looks amazing! I'm headed to the farmers market today, so I'll be sure to pick up some rhubarb. I just recently made my first strawberry rhubarb pie, but I'm a bigger fan of raspberries and blackberries so this looks perfect! I can't wait to try it out :)

At May 28, 2011 at 8:53 PM , Blogger A Thought For Food said...

You know how to get me drooling. Any crumble gets me salivating, but a rhubarb/berry crumble will have me leaving a puddle. :-)

Hope you are having a good weekend, my friend!

At May 28, 2011 at 9:39 PM , Blogger Lizzy said...

Boy does this look incredible! Two berries + rhubarb = YUMMY dessert. I love crumbles, crisps and anything in between. Excellent recipe.

At May 28, 2011 at 10:34 PM , Anonymous BigFatBaker said...

Beautiful job with the photos! I love the addition of raspberries and blackberries over strawberries.

At May 29, 2011 at 12:33 AM , Blogger All That's Left Are The Crumbs said...

These look delicious and definitely like a Top 9 to me.

At May 31, 2011 at 3:35 PM , Anonymous Alicia Sokol said...

Stunning photos, Michael! My mouth is watering looking at them. I have guests coming this weekend and I can't think of a better use for rhubarb...

At May 31, 2011 at 10:53 PM , Blogger Eliotseats said...

Hang in there; Friday's comin'. My husband had a strawberry-rhubarb tart at the Farmers' Market this weekend. He now insists we plant a rhubarb patch. I hope to make this next spring with our own rhubarb.

At June 2, 2011 at 4:48 AM , Anonymous Spinneys Cauldron said...

Lovely juicy crumble, a favourite of ours - an all year round dessert. Mmmmm thank you for sharing looks deeeelicious :)


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