Confessions of a Rhubarb Queen

I have had a long love affair with rhubarb.

Legend has it that when I was a very little girl I went to an afternoon tea party and when asked what I would like to eat I replied, “Rhubarb please!”

That amusing incident earned me the title ‘Rhubarb Queen’ in my family.

Last summer I was walking along the street with my friend and I noticed a bucket of free rhubarb. It was outside a house with a well-tended garden. I had often stopped there to admire the dahlias. Delighted, I took a bunch of rhubarb home and stewed it later that day.

My tastebuds were dancing the cha cha, the jitterbug and everything in between! It was unbelievably good. Just enough tartness and just enough sweetness. Paired with vanilla ice cream, it was a simple but completely satisfying dessert.

Following this I had a New Year epiphany. I decided that my only resolution this year would be to plant some rhubarb in my garden. I did some research and was a little disappointed to find out that I couldn’t plant it straight away. I had to wait.

A couple of weeks ago I decided it was time! No more waiting. I scoped out Springwood Growers Market and found a healthy looking rhubarb plant at the awesome Patio Plants stall. You can find Patio Plants Pty Ltd on Facebook. They are regulars at both the Blackheath Growers Market (2nd Sunday of the month) and Springwood Growers Market (4th Sunday of the month).

I chose a sunny well-drained spot in the garden and planted it with lots of love and care. Hopefully there will be something delicious to harvest in the next year or so. Looks like the ‘Rhubarb Queen’ will have to be patient some more. It will be worth it though.

Thankfully, unlike growing rhubarb, stewing rhubarb is quick (and easy)!

Stewed Rhubarb

  • 6 – 8 stalks of rhubarb
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (adjust to taste)
  • 1/ 4 cup water
  • Remove and discard the leaves (they are rather toxic, so don’t feed them to your chickens!)
  • Wash the stalks and chop them into 2 cm chunks.
  • Place them in a saucepan with water and sugar.
  • Stew gently for 5-10 minutes or until the stalks are tender.
  • Serve hot over vanilla ice cream.
  • Cold with muesli and yogurt works too.
  • You could also stew the rhubarb with 4 or 5 apples (peeled and sliced). A great combo for a crumble dessert!

Soup

Cauliflower and Leek Soup

One of the simple pleasures of winter is soup. It’s nourishing, filling and a guaranteed way to warm up. If a winter lurgy has laid you low, a hot bowl of soup is your best friend. It not only soothes a sore throat, but keeps you hydrated and gives your immune system a boost. It is the ultimate comfort food and best when homemade. Crusty bread on the side takes it to another level. On the weekend I had a bit of a soup fest:

Now I am keen to whip up a big pot of my favourite Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup!

Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup

  • 1/4 Japanese pumpkin
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 leek
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • paprika
  • Cajun or Moroccan spice mix
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • olive oil
  1. Chop leek and sauté with garlic in olive oil.
  2. Add vegetable stock.
  3. Peel and chop the other vegetables and add them to the stock.
  4. Add seasonings to taste.
  5. Simmer until vegetables are soft.
  6. Remove the soup from the heat and purée.
  7. Serve piping hot garnished with sour cream, fresh chives and cracked pepper. Crusty bread on the side takes it to another level.

Other favourites in our house are Laksa, Soto Ayam (Indonesian chicken soup) and Minestrone. What’s your favourite?