I woke up later than usual today, due to an abnormally late evening yesterday (totally worth it, I will add). And even though it’s Monday, I felt good about getting back into my weekday routine. I have begun to miss working out on the weekends (very strange feeling, but a good one!) so it was refreshing to get up, do some work, and then gear up for ‘Insanity.’ Today was Max Cardio Conditioning ~ no breaks between moves ~ and even though it’s shorter than the other two workouts, it still kicks my butt. But … it felt nice to work up a sweat and get moving.
I also wholly enjoyed my double bowl of crispy oats this a.m. I know I should be eating oatmeal (and I like oatmeal, really I do! ~ except I call it porridge) but there is something so comforting to me about the crispy oat flavor and the cool, delicious milk of cereal that totally makes my morning. And today, because I was ravenous yet again, I had two bowls. Whoops! I’m trying really hard not to have seconds, and to be aware of portion sizes when I eat … but the cereal was too tempting this morning for me to pass it up.
Yesterday, as I may have mentioned, was the man’s birthday. So for the momentous occasion, I went a little bananas about dessert (he loves it).
My original plan had been to make cupcakes (I never liked them as a child, and then a few years ago, a chef made some amazing cupcakes as a farewell present for a departing manager … and I fell in love with the ‘mini-cake’). But when I mentioned this plan to the man, he made a face. So I decided on brownies. He perked up a bit, but still looked a little sullen, so I gently inquired.
“What about my strawberry shortcake?” He pouted. Of course, I wanted to smack myself on the forehead, his mother always makes him strawberry shortcake for his birthday.
“I thought you only liked your mom’s?” I asked, tentatively.
“Well, hers is the best … but I’d still like strawberry shortcake. It’s my birthday.”
So that settled it. There would be strawberry shortcake. Early in the afternoon, I headed to the supermarket to pick up necessities. We were barbecuing, and we needed more corn on the cob (** Time out. There are a couple things in the summer that I could eat every day. Corn on the cob is one. Fresh tomatoes ~ especially heirloom tomatoes ~ right out of the garden and still warm from the sun are another. I CANNOT say no to corn on the cob. I eat so much it’s surprising that I haven’t turned into one). We also needed strawberries and angel food cake for John’s Strawberry Shortcake, and some other random items, like dishwasher pellets (I know, very exciting stuff).
When I got to the produce department, you could have knocked me over with a feather. There, nestled in front of the boxes and boxes of strawberries, was fresh rhubarb. Without thinking, I piled it into a bag. I know this is going to sound funny, but I rarely, if ever, see fresh rhubarb. And it’s impossible to find it frozen (I tried once when I wanted to make a cherry rhubarb pie for Thanksgiving … needless to say, we didn’t have a cherry rhubarb pie that year ~ just cherry. So much for being ambitious!)
As a child, there were two things my English Granny made better than anyone. Raspberry fluff (I don’t have anything to compare it to~ it’s impossible to describe, and utterly delectable) and rhubarb crumble. Oh, how I loved those things when we were visiting her. She would make them for my brother and I every night if we asked (which we were not supposed to, but usually did) because we did not see her regularly. Going to England, for me, is still all about fitting in the food I loved as a child that you can’t find in the US (English sausages are a top favorite, as well as pork pies ~ I probably gain 10 lbs every time I’m there. Yum yum delish).
So now, I was manned with fresh rhubarb, and I was utterly determined to make a crumble for John (you know, in addition to the strawberry shortcake and brownies). I spoke with my mother, who very kindly emailed me the recipe. And I set to work.
When the crumble was finally done, John and I each had a piece topped with a generous dollop of Cool Whip (you just can’t commonly find heavy, clotted cream like you would serve in England, so I subbed the Cool Whip and my arteries are probably thanking me). It immediately took me back to my Granny’s dining room table twenty years ago. The rhubarb is pretty tart, so the cool whip and the sugary crumble topping mostly balance it out, but I will say that I now understand why rhubarb is usually paired with a sweeter fruit like strawberry, cherry or apple.
However, I’m going to share this recipe in its pure form, as a tribute to my Granny and my memories of Northumberland as a child.
Granny’s Rhubarb Crumble
For the filling:
2 lbs fresh rhubarb (thoroughly cleaned ~ ends cut off and discarded, and chopped into 1″ pieces)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. spice mixture (nutmeg, cinnamon, ground cloves)
For the crumble:
1 & 1/2 cup all purpose flour, sifted
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar (you can use white for a cakier crumble, and brown for a crispier one)
Sprinkle of ground cloves and cinnamon.
Here’s What to Do:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1. Toss the 1″ pieces of rhubarb with the brown sugar and spice mix.
3. Put aside. Time to make crumb topping!
4. In a bowl, sift 3/4 cup flour. Add butter in pieces. If you have a pastry blender, rub flour and butter together until it gets flaky. Once that happens, you can add in the sugar. Keep blending until it begins to cling together like crumbs.
5. I used a fork for all that fun blending because I do not have a pastry blender. But the results were pretty much the same …
6. Once I was fully satisfied with the crumbly nature of my topping, I spread it over the rhubarb. The first time, I didn’t make enough, so I had to make a second helping. (**The above are correct ingredient measurements for the doubled version of the crumble topping).
First, cook for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Then lower the oven temperature to 375, and cook for 15 additional minutes. Once the rhubarb crumble is done, allow to cool, but still serve warm with a dollop of cool whip.
If the crumble fully cools, then set the oven to 225 and allow the dish to warm up for about 10 -15 minutes (depending on how warm/hot you want that rhubarb!)
*** A good alternative to the tartness of a full rhubarb crumble is using 1 lb rhubarb, and two containers of diced strawberries or two cored, peeled and sliced apples.
John & my bowls…