'tis rhubarb

rhubarb photo

Spring has finally come to central Illinois and I am enjoying the redbud trees outside my kitchen window, their branches full of pink buds and tiny birds preparing tiny nests. We have been treating ourselves to fresh asparagus several times a week, steamed and salted alongside chicken or stir fried on a turkey sandwich.

Of course, the best part of spring is rhubarb and the pies that they promise. My dad was a spring baby and from the time he was a little boy, always wanted rhubarb pie rather than a cake to help him celebrate his birthday. Not surprising, it is probably the most favored pie of every single one of us in this family!

Here is the recipe I have used for years, a combination of my mom’s and one I found in an old Farm Journal cookbook. As I bought rhubarb at the store earlier in the week, I was sad that the check-out clerk had to ask me what it was when he weighed it. Poor fellow had never tasted rhubarb pie. What a tragedy!

Rhubarb Pie

Crust for top and bottom of pie
4 cups fresh rhubarb, sliced and cut into 1 inch pieces, any stringy skin removed
1 ½ cup sugar
¾ cup flour
½ tsp. salt
2 TBS. butter
dash nutmeg, optional
sugar to sprinkle

Prepare crust and line bottom of pie plate. In bowl, combine rhubarb, sugar, flour, salt. Mix well and turn into pan. Dot top with butter and nutmeg. Put on top crust and poke with tines of a fork. Sprinkle well with sugar. Bake at 425 degress (400 if using glass pie plate) for 40 to 50 minutes until juice bubbles through holes in top of crust and pie is golden brown.


And here is a little bit of rhubarb trivia. I think reading this can count toward your science credit for the day!

It is or was common for a crowd of extras in acting to shout the word “rhubarb” repeatedly and in an unsynchronised manner, to cause the effect of general hubbub. As a result, the word “rhubarb” sometimes is used to mean “length of superfluous text in speaking or writing”, or a general term to refer to irrelevant chatter by chorus or extra actors.

Russell Brand has used the phrase “Tis Rhubarb!” to denote something as nonsense, often with sarcastic inclination.

Possibly from this usage, possibly from a variant on “rube”, or perhaps some of both, the word also denotes a loud argument. The term has been most commonly used in baseball. The term “rhubarb” as it relates to baseball is an antiquated reference to a fight amongst many players. The iconic bench-clearing brawl is known as a “rhubarb”.

The phrase “out in the rhubarb patch” can be used to describe a place being in the far reaches of an area. Rhubarb is usually grown at the outer edges of the garden in the less desirable and unkempt area.

The term also refers to a 1954 book by Red Barber and Barney Stein, The Rhubarb Patch: The Story of the Modern Brooklyn Dodgers in which “Rhubarb Patch” was used in both its baseball and more general connotations to describe Ebbets Field, the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

In Canada, the phrase “putting it in the rhubarb” describes driving a vehicle off the road, possibly into roadside vegetation.

The word Rhubarb was used in WWII to refer to low flying missions for planes, particularly in the Royal Air Force and it’s British Commonwealth counterparts, such as the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force. Arthur Hazelton Sager, and Paul Brickhill, both WWII pilots, use this term repeatedly[16] as a dangerous mission flying low over enemy territory. This usage of the word “rhubarb” seems to have started during the Battle of Britain. ~ from Wikipedia

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