“Are you going to finish that wall?” my best friend inquired upon viewing my bedroom for the first time. “It is finished,” I responded, unfazed by the differences in our aesthetics. The purposeful peeling of paint revealed layers and implied stories. I saw maps and journeys in the chipping formations. She is clean, and I am chaotic, but together, we are an enduring balance.
Look at the red stalks of rhubarb. Upon closer inspection, the pointilist style red is chaotic and beautiful like a richly textured ruby wall in an elegant parlor. Imagine discovering rhubarb when no one knew of its sweet, tart riches! Would you have peeled the red away to reveal the burst of bright green beneath the sinewy surface?
The discovery and development of food fascinates me. We tend to think of our ancient predecessors as brute force and ignorance, but the conversion of a seed into bright golden maize or a ruby red stalk into something I crave every spring and summer is akin to a great scientific mind testing the unknown.
Buy some rhubarb. Buy it local! Stare into its red beauty, and then bake it into something to push the bounds of tarts and pies.
Chestnut, Rhubarb & Coconut Crisp (Gluten Free)
Makes a 9×13 pan
3 cups chestnut flour (I purchased mine at an Italian grocer’s)
1 1/2 cups raw cane sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 cup organic, unsalted butter
2 large, organic eggs
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
4 cups local rhubarb, cut into pieces
1/2 cup coconut flakes
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9×13 baking dish.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 1 cup of the sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cardamom.
Add in the butter and mix with a pastry cutter, fork, or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add the eggs and almond extract. Press 2/3 of the mixture into a greased 9×13 pan.
In another bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the cornstarch. Stir together.
Add in the rhubarb and gently stir until coated. Spoon these over the crust. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs over the strawberries/rhubarb.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Remove from oven, add the coconut flakes and then return to the oven until the flakes are lightly toasted.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving. Serve with coconut whipped cream and a garnish of fresh, local mint.
Coconut Whipped Cream
1/2 Pint Local heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons local honey
1/3 cup coconut cream
1 Tablespoon rum (optional)
Combine all the ingredients except the rum in a chilled mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat until soft peaks form. Add the rum, and continue to mix until well combined. Keep chilled until ready to serve.