When we moved to our new house, I was surprised to find 5 rhubarb plants growing in the back corner of the yard. I was even more surprised to find the one random lone plant growing right in the middle of the yard. As in, smack dab in the middle of the grass. The placement of these plants make me think that no one in their right mind would have planted them where they are located. Maybe a squirrel dug up the bulbs from somewhere and then stored them away for safekeeping later on? Or maybe the owner was drunk when she decided to plant them? Either way, they were not high on my excitement list when I realized what they were. The big patch of established chives? Thrilling. (Just watch for my plans for the chive blossoms soon). The potted container of mint? Yes please! But the rhubarb? Yuck. Since trying strawberry rhubarb pie years ago, I swore off rhubarb as the devil’s weed. Really, that’s how much I disliked it.However, because I’m not someone who can let free food go to waste, I felt obligated to pick the rhubarb as it was ready. It took some internet research since I had no idea what I was doing (remember, devil’s weed), but I learned that wiggling the stalk to ease it out of its holding place was the best method for harvesting. And then of course cutting off the poisonous leaves was a necessity too. But then what? Being overwhelmed at the thought of having to do something with the rhubarb, I chopped up all the stalks and threw them in the freezer for the day I felt like I could handle making something with them. Then the fateful second harvest came. I threw the bounty on my back steps and bemoaned that I had to deal with even more. It seemed only fitting to take a picture and post it on Facebook detailing my plight. I got some good response from people of what I should do with it. Cakes and pies seemed to be the prevailing theme. Then I got a message from one of my professors, Kay Price, who taught several classes I was in when I was going through my Special Education major in college. (Let’s be honest, she was one of my favorite professors I ever had.) She offered to send me her mom’s recipe for Rhubarb Crunch. Having no idea what on earth that was, the only logical response was a resounding yes, please do send it on over.When I saw the recipe, I was excited. One of my favorite things to do with a fruit is to turn it into a crisp with the crunchy oatmeal/brown sugar/butter topping. However, this recipe takes it to the next level and puts that same topping on both the top and the bottom of the dish. Pure. Utter. Genius. (I would make a comment about how this genius could only be expected from a dutchwoman from the same small dutch town my parents grew up in, but it’s well known that dutch people are too humble to brag, so I’ll refrain.)
A couple of things to note about the recipe… My rhubarb crunch was a wee bit on the juicy side. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing when it’s lovely pink buttery sauce that goes well with ice cream. And once it sat for a while it thickened as it cooled. However, I think two factors contributed to the extra juicyness– I used frozen chopped rhubarb and I also used gluten free flour. This recipe was written for normal all purpose flour but I converted it simply by using my standard gluten free flour mix. Next time I make this (which happens to be in a few days when I have my parents over for dinner), I will add some additional tablespoons of flour to the filling to help it thicken more. If you have arrowroot starch on hand instead, substituting that for the flour in the filling would be a great thickener.
Ada Vandermay’s Rhubarb Crunch
Recipe generously shared by Kay (Vandermay) Price
1 cup uncooked rolled oats (make sure they are certified gluten free)
½ cup gluten free flour
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
½ cup butter
3 cups diced unpeeled rhubarb (mixed with 1T gluten free flour, ¾ cups
sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. salt)
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Lightly grease (or use cooking spray) 8 X 8 X 2 pan
3. Mix oats, flour, brown sugar with 2 knives (or hands) and
cut in butter.
4. Put ½ of the mixture in pan and cover with rhubarb mix
5. Put second ½ on top of the rhubarb mix
6. Bake for 45 minutes.
7. Serve hot with ice cream