Rites of Summer: Mother-in-Law’s Rhubarb Crunch

My Mother-in-Law's Recipe Box and Rhubarb Crunch Recipe

“What’s this?” I asked our friend Joan as I pointed down at the ground. It was our first spring in the house and Joan, the real estate agent’s wife, was kindly helping us get the mess of a yard into shape. (And helping two city guys avoid a freakout over the amount of work they had just taken on with this new house!)

“Oh that’s rhubarb!” Joan said, and then furrowed her brow. “That’s a strange place to put it.”

We were standing in the front yard, pulling plants out of a bed that the previous owners had installed.

“It’s grows like a weed,” Joan said. “We used to just mow over it!”

I dug up the fledgling little plant and plopped it in a corner of the garden. Joan was right. Rhubarb is an easy plant that will thrive anywhere you put it. By the end of that summer I was able to get a few mature stalks off the plant. And we’ve had rhubarb ever since.

Mother-in-law’s rhubarb recipe

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I may not have been able to recognize rhubarb in the wild, but I had bought enough of the red stalks at farmers markets over the years to know that it was one of The Mister’s favorites. Having a plant in the garden has been a wonderful addition to our lives … and waistlines. And since it’s an early plant, springing to life and offering mature stalks that are ready to cut by the end of May, when we’re just planting the rest of the garden, it’s a nice way to kick off the growing season.

And so every Memorial Day weekend I pull out my mother-in-law’s recipe box and make The Mister his favorite dessert, rhubarb crunch.

Welcome to summer, folks! (And here’s Louise’s recipe.)

3 C rhubarb, diced
1 C sugar
2 eggs
4 T flour
sprinkle cinnamon

Mix above in a large bowl and then pour into a greased dish. (Lately, I’ve been making the crunch in smaller dishes or ramekins. That means that everyone gets some of the extra crunchy edges – arguably the best part!)

1 C oatmeal
1/2 C butter
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C flour

Mix the above ingredients and then spread atop the rhubarb mixture.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

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