4.19.2014

Rude Barb

No, I am not dissing my good friend Barbara!

When you were a kid, how many things did you hear your parents - or someone else – say that you completely misunderstood?

For Mark, there was the hymn, "Gladly the Cross I'd Bear" which he heard as "Gladly, the Cross-eyed Bear" (Apparently, from my Google search, he was not alone), and the inscruitable phrase in Jingle Bells about the “one whore soapen sleigh.”

There is always the ever-popular Dwight Yoakim song, "A Thousand Miles from Nowhere" wherein his imperfect diction seems to render ‘echoes in my head’ to 'pickles in my ears.'

For me, much of what I misheard growing up was botanical. Perhaps this was because, even as a kid, I loved gardening.

Easter dinner in our Maine home many years ago... forsythia whips in blossom
My mother loved forsythia - but I always thought she said "For Cynthia," which made a sort of nonsensical sense because Cynthia was the sister of one of our baby sitters down the street, and they had a beautiful forsythia bush out front.

In Mrs. Longshore's garden next door, was a culinary plant my mother disliked. And every year, Mrs. Longshore would offer some to my mother, who would politely refuse, saying to us afterwards sotto voce, "I never did like Rude Barb."

Now, that made no sense to me because there was no one in our lives named Barb. Mrs. Longshore's name was Alice and her daughter, also one of our sitters, was Mary Ann. What's up with that Mom? Who's Barb?

Later - probably not until I was an adult - I had my first rhubarb pie and fell in love with the stuff. I enjoyed how it made the inside of my mouth tingle, and how it seemed to activate taste buds I didn't even know I had.

I stopped calling the flower ForCynthia and this leafy plant RudeBarb long ago. But I still love them both. They are both harbingers of spring - well, them along with sparrow grass.

Mark snapped this photo of the immense forsythia bushes in our Kittery, Maine, garden
Here in the desert, we are deep into spring, and I thought it would be fun to make a rhubarb compote - it is great on ice cream, vanilla pudding, and even as a "chutney" served with grilled poultry. I bet it would even be a good variant in the Pêche Melba from a few weeks ago.

Today, looking at a vase filled with long whips of forsythia forced into bloom (thank you, Trader Joe!), I am spooning this wonderful sauce over vanilla ice cream for a refreshing dessert.

~ David

Rhubarb Compote

1 pound rhubarb, ends trimmed and washed
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra if desired
small pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
3 tablespoons water

Cut rhubarb into 1/2-inch pieces and place in a large saucepan. Add sugar, salt, rosemary (if using), and water, and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, or until rhubarb is soft and begins to break down, and sauce has a syrupy consistency. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar, if desired.

Serve a spoonful over vanilla ice cream or pudding, or add some chopped rosemary while cooking and serve alongside grilled poultry.

Makes 2-3 cups. Leftovers can be frozen.

35 comments:

  1. Dear David, ah, we both love rhubarb and we both love forsythia...and springtime is the best an so is your wonderful writing that makes me smile and very happy and so is your recipe for this most wonderful of all compotes! There, I love it all!
    Now, if only you could share some of that lovely rhubarb compote with vanilla ice cream with me and then we could sit down and chat away...I think I need some pampering these days...
    Wir wünschen euch beiden ein wunderschönes Osterfest und wundervolle Osterfeiertage!
    Ganz viele liebe Grüße,
    Andrea & Co.

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    1. Andrea - I would love nothing more than to sit down with you for hours to chat about life, food, friends, and dreams. And I would love to pamper you and make you the best hot chocolate you have ever tasted! I know that someday this will happen. I just wish it were sooner than later! Thank you for your nice comments about the compote! We could have that after our kakao! My warmest thoughts to you, Thomas, and the children for a lovely and happy Easter. Sending hugs!

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  2. What an absolutely delightful post, David! Just love it! I have tried rosemary with rhubarb, but must do! Have a ton of it frozen in the freezer! Happy Easter, thanks for a great read.

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    1. Happy Easter to you, as well, Liz! I am going to freeze some rhubarb this year, too, for when I need a dose in the fall or winter!

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    2. I'm inspired to take some out today and try your recipe!

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  3. Hmmm...you made me remember my sister and her version of the children's prayer, "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep." The line is "I pray the Lord my soul to take."She thought it was "I pray the Lord my soda cake." Maybe be a less scary thought for a child anyway.
    I am mulling over what rhubarb recipe to make for Easter dinner. I think it will be a Rhubarb Buckle with Ginger Crumb from Food 52. I think the thing about rhubarb is like what they say about New Mexico, you either love it or you hate it.
    I love them both!

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    1. Caterina - I like your sister's version much better! Someone sent me an email reminding me of Harold. You know, "Our Father, who art in Heaven, Harold be thy name?" I can't wait to see what else comes in!

      Your rhubarb and ginger buckle sounds wonderful! And I, too, love my neighboring New Mexico!

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  4. I LOVE Rude Barb! We used to grow it in our tiny garden when I was a kid. Very funny blog :-) XOXO

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Karin! I am loving all the responses of misheard lyrics!

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  5. Title: "Much to His Parent's Embarrassment".

    Cast: 5 yo Greg and his classmates.

    Setting: 1960s kindergarten classroom, somewhere in Ohio.

    Action: One future food blogger loudly sings front and center.

    Dialogue: "My country, 'tis of thee, Sweet land of liver trees, Of thee I sing..."

    GREG

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    1. That has to be the funniest misheard lyric ever! Liver trees! Do you even like liver? I wish we had been in grammar school together. The place would never have been the same again!

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    2. Moi, aussi. All varieties... though I have not yet had pork liver.

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  6. Remember that Go-Go's song "Our lips are sealed". When I was young I always thought they sand "I kissed a seal". SOmething tells me I wasn't alone.

    I have a bit of a soft spot for rhubarb. In fact, Dean did a rhubarb compote last night to serve with his multi-ginger cake. Meaning - dried ginger, fresh, crystallised and stem ginger. So much ginger that the rhubarb provides some cooling relief for the tongue!

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    1. I kissed a seal, too. But keep that quiet - it isn't good for my employers to know that....

      Wow, that is a lot of ginger. I bet the tartness of the rhubarb was a really nice countering for the cake!

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    2. What a great post, I laughed until I cried, I also have misunderstood a few lyrics in my day. Just noticed you are in Tucson, my daughter and son-in-law live there and we are in Phoenix. Great blog!

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    3. Thanks, Cheri! Glad I was able to give you a laugh! I have to say, the comments I am getting are really funny! I was just looking at your blog, and enjoying it a lot. Maybe sometime when I am in Phoenix or you are here, we can get together for coffee.

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  7. Haha, that's such an awesome play on words. Rude barb! Indeed, there have been many, many misunderstood lyrics for me too. One other church one is 'swinging in the trees' instead of 'bringing in the sheaves'... haha! I've always loved rhubarb... probably due to my English upbringing and many comforting apple and rhubarb crumbles with thick custard! This compote looks delicious. I can imagine eating it warm with ice cream and some pistachio crumble... delicious. Great post David!

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    1. Thanks for sharing another really fun misheard lyric, Laura! I never realized till this post how big rhubarb is in England!

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  8. Alright, so I take it from all the recent bloggers that rhubarb must be in season. I don't think I've ever tasted it and am so curious. My hubby says he remembers it not-so-fondly from his childhood. But, I still want to give it a go with your recipe here. Sounds delicious.

    Love the pics from your Maine home. Forsythia is also on my shopping list.
    Hope you had a very sweet Easter, D. xoxo

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    1. Oh, Colette - you definitely need to try rhubarb! It has such a wonderful tingly feeling - I think you will love it.

      Glad you like the pics form Maine - ah the days when I actually used B&W film! I loved all your Easter pics - so I know you three had a wonderful one. xox

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  9. Terrific post! Loved the recipe, the photos, and the stories. My contribution is about something the young daughter of a dear friend once said--she asked her mother (my friend), "Just who is Miss Allaneous?" apparently having no idea where to put papers her mother asked her to put "under miscellaneous."

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    1. Haha! And that, Susan, takes me down a completely different path - as in, don't you think Miss Conceived would be a great name for a drag queen?

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  10. I love it, David. So funny! I know I have a million of these, but like trying to remember a song to download, they are escaping me. Rhubarb and rosemary is sounds like such a delightful blend of flavors. I will have to explore this. :-)

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    1. Well, Valentina, if you think of some, definitely come back and share them!

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  11. Spring so far has been cold and windy…the forsythia is just starting to show yellow and rhubarb has not arrived in our market yet. I like your addition of rosemary to your compote, it sounds delicious. Your black and white photos of Maine are wonderful.

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    1. Karen - when we lived in Maine, we could not wait for the first night where the temperatures stayed above freezing. We would go out the next day and pick forsythia whips and force them. So much more beautiful were they with a snow-covered landscape in the background.

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  12. Some of my most amusing misheard words are from songs! They are hilarious when you realise what they really sang! Forsythia has been one of my favourites since childhood. There was a big bush on the way to Regents Park by my flat in London, springtime it would burst into bright yellow sprays of flowers. I loved that bush, as much as I love rhubarb but you know that already. Rhubarb compote sounds wonderful! With ice cream....even better! Have a great weekend David. Sorry, it's taken me so long to come and visit, it's been a crazy week, take care xx

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    1. You know, Nazneen, I never think of forsythia anywhere but in New England. I don't know why... I am glad you have those good memories - can you grow it in Colorado? I would imagine so.

      Yes, I know you love rhubarb - and I have read your post partially. Only partially because my iPad kept shutting down. So, I am REALLY behind in reading my blogs for the week. Glad to be home with my real computer!

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  13. I laughed so much reading this post, I loved it. It is so true, we all grow up with these misunderstandings. One funny one that comes to mind now was from a friend. It is in Italian, but I believe you understand a little? Italians are always misunderstanding songs in English (not surprising since us native speakers always misunderstand them too). This friend thought the Frank Sinatra song "Strangers in the night" was "Stringimi nel night" (embrace me in the nightclub) and sang it for years that way until I told her that was not what the song was saying... and that Frank didn't usually sing in Italian.
    I love rhubarb and it reminds me of my grandmother.

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    1. "Stringimi nel night" is such a wonderful mishearing! It should probably be the sequel song to "Strangers in the Night!" Thanks for making me laugh this morning, Fiona - I am glad you enjoyed the post and that it brought back memories of your grandmother.

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  14. OMG, I love this post! Both the commentary, photos and recipe! My college roommate thought that Cliff Richard's "It's so Funny (how we don't talk anymore)" was "Disco Bunny"!

    And speaking of rhubarb...I bought 10lbs last week and have run out already! YES...I adore rhubarb and go through withdrawals when I can't find it in the springtime. I'm off to buy more this morning!! ;)

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    1. I am definitely going to need to listen to the Cliff Richards song again... LOVE the Disco Bunny! Rhubarb is so wonderful... wish we had more here in the desert!

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