When I was a little girl my family lived in Hope Indiana on Walnut street in a small one story home that had a purple clematis growing up the trellis on the porch. This house was the first home that my parents ever owned and I have great memories of their adventures in first time home ownership. We planted a garden behind the little shed and found amazing old bottles, my dad planted a sour cherry tree just for me, my mom planted red and yellow tulips all around the edge of the fence in the back yard, and this is the house my first puppy came home to. I remember when they remodeled the kitchen and while the floor was up we found an old little raccoon skeleton underneath.
Some of my favorite memories of this house though were the neighbors. The Roses, and Sarah, and Boaz, and my very favorite, a little old woman who lived all alone right next door to us. We called her “Starnsie” and it wasn’t until years later that I learned that wasn’t even her name, but a nickname me and my siblings had given her that had stuck. Starnsie was small and white-haired. We shared a backyard fence and a love of growing things. She grew gorgeous orange poppies, gooseberries, rhubarb, and cherry tomatoes that we hoped would send a limb through the fence so that we could snitch the little tomatoes that happen to ripen on “our side”. She also kept a stash of Bazooka bubble gum just inside her front door for when the neighbor kids would come knocking, often times without their mom’s knowledge, begging for a piece of gum and to say hello. Even my cousins knew about our wonderful gum-giving neighbor and would ask to go knock on her door as soon as they were out of the car.
In Starnsie’s backyard is where I had my first taste of rhubarb. I was probably six or seven years old and we were taking a walk admiring her yard and playing with one of her Yorkie’s. She pulled a little kitchen knife from the pocket of one of the light cotton aprons that she wore over her dress. She bent down and cut a huge stalk with an equally huge leaf on top. After telling us how much she liked it, she proceeded to cut my sister and I a little piece that looked like a pink-back piece of celery. I thought nothing of it and took a bite. It was so sour! In my young mind I thought Starnsie had old woman taste because it wasn’t good at all. Why on earth would some eat this stuff.
I so wish I had a picture of Starnsie to show you. And even more, I wish that I could tell her how wonderful her friendship was for a little girl next door. So until we meet up again in Heaven I’ll think of her every time I eat rhubarb or Bazooka bubble gum and I’ll say a quiet pray of thanksgiving for kind souls who have left such a strong impression on my heart.
I’m also glad I gave rhubarb another try down the road; now I love the stuff! This recipe is for you and for her. I know she would have liked it with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream in the humid Indiana spring. And I know you’ll like it too.
Rhubarb is too often combined with other fruit like strawberries and I think it’s a shame. There is a time and a place for that, but it isn’t a must. This rhubarb crisp with no other fruit really highlights the unique qualities in rhubarb without hiding it with other flavors. It’s sweet with just a bit of tang that makes it a perfect dessert. The richness from the butter and pecans go along great with the tart fruit. There’s no dry parts to this crisp either because you melt the butter and stir it right in. That’s my little secret for the perfect crisp.
Rhubarb Crisp without any other fruit
- Yield: Serves 4-6
- For the Fruit:
- 2 1/2 cups of chopped Rhubarb
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- For the Crisp Topping:
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup salted butter, melted
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray an 8×8 inch square baking dish or individual ramekins (4 to 6 depending on how big of a serving you want in each) with cooking spray, Set aside.
- In a medium bowl combine the chopped rhubarb, sugar, and corn starch and stir to combine.
- In a second medium bowl combine the sugars, flour, oats, and pecans. Stir with a fork to combine. Add the vanilla and melted butter and stir until no dry powder is left.
- Stir the rhubarb and sugar again and then place it in your baking dish or divide it evenly among the ramekins. Place the crisp topping on top of the rhubarb in the dish. If you used ramekins, place them on a baking sheet and then transfer them to the hot oven or put the baking dish straight into the oven. Cook for 18-24 minutes until the crisp is lightly browned and the rhubarb is bubble around the edges.
- Let the crisp cool for 5 minutes before serving hot with ice cream or fresh whipped cream.
This crisp is best enjoyed the same day.
Here are a few other recipes you might like today:
Sour Cherry Crumble from Bless this Mess
Grandma’s Raspberry Cobbler from Bless this Mess
Rhubarb and Greek Yogurt Popsicles from The View from Great Island