If at first you don’t succeed…

When I was a 10th grade lad, I remember taking a quiz on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  And, to the day I die, I will never forget the color of the Green Knight’s shoes: He wasn’t wearing any.  That was the one question I missed, and the only question I recall now, a good 8 years later.

They say that the things we fail at are often the things we learn most from.  Already, I’ve failed at quite a few things here.  Fortunately, they’ve been small things – things that (as far as I can tell) have affected none but myself.  But I share them with you nonetheless.

First, there was the butter incident.  Back in the ‘Ham, I used to always keep a supply of cookie-dough in my refrigerator.  My mother was particularly fond of this habit, and would regularly come visit with a serving spoon in hand (that way, she said, she could tell herself she only ate one spoonful).  So I figured I should keep the old practice alive here in the Pacific.  I bought a few sticks of butter, set them on the counter to thaw (it was late evening at the time), and checked them just before going to bed: they were getting there, but not quite ready.  Sleep was good that night, and in the morning, I figured it was high time to start the first batch of dough.  But it was not to be.  The butter, nearly thawed the night before, was now as solid as it would have been coming straight from the freezer.  From then on out, you’ll be glad to know, I’ve left all butter thawing to the daylight hours.

Next was the rhubarb disaster.  If you don’t know what rhubarb looks like, here you are:

Apparently, the transitive property (you know, if a=b and b=c, then a=c) doesn’t work with fruits and vegetables like it does with mathematical variables.  Earlier this week, I saw a pile of rhubarb at the market, picked it up (because it looked delicious), and brought it home.  But what does one do with rhubarb (?), I asked myself.  One makes Strawberry-Rhubarb pies.  But, says I to myself, what if one doesn’t have any other pie ingredients… like strawberries, for instance?  Well (and here’s the logical fallacy) since rhubarb works with strawberries in a pie, and apples also work with strawberries in a pie, I suppose you can do with rhubarb whatever you can do with apples.

Let it be known, here and now, that is this factually incorrect.  Taking a bite out of raw rhubarb is not at all the same experience as taking a bite out of a fresh apple.  Nor is slicing rhubarb up, dropping it in a pot, and cooking it on the stove (and inviting friends over for baked rhubarb).  Unless, of course, the baked apples you make for your family look and taste like gooey celery.

If anyone knows what to do with rhubarb, please let me know.  I dare-say it looks deliciously appetizing.

11 thoughts on “If at first you don’t succeed…

  1. Rhubarb sauce over ice cream, rhubarb crisp, rhubarb jam. Whatever you do, cook it with a lot of sugar. At least that’s what my mom says. :)

  2. I wake every morning, pull out my iPad, and check to see if you’ve posted:) Ah, Alan, I do miss your cookie dough stash and our quick little catch up visits, but, alas, maybe now I can lose those extra pounds around my waist. -never cooked rhubarb, sorry.
    Why did the butter reharden? Does it get that cold at night?
    Missin’ you,

  3. Hi Alan,

    Not sure how you are set on sugar supply. My sister always said where they served in Africa, it was a precious commodity. So this idea may not work for you. At any rate, here goes:

    Ukarumpa Sunset
    ( A Non-alcoholic Rhubarb Cocktail, so named by Christine)

    Start by dumping with a big pile of chopped rhubarb into a large pot. Using a measuring cup, cover the rhubarb with water while keeping count of how much water you’re adding. This recipe calls for using one part sugar to two parts water. If you like the rhubarb’s natural tart taste, you can adjust the amount of sugar to your liking. If you’d like, you can also zest some limes into the pot and squeeze the juice in; however it tastes great with or without the lime.

    Put the pan on your stove and simmer until the rhubarb falls apart; this usually takes about a half an hour. You’ll know it’s ready when it looks like a brown, soupy, gross looking, sloppy mess. The color is not pretty, and you might think, what is Christine getting me into? But wait, grasshopper. Keep going.

    Dump the soupy rhubarb mixture into a strainer that’s been lined with cheesecloth (improvise if you don’t have one) to separate the nectar from the pulp. Let it drain, then squeeze out the last of the juice.

    The remaining nectar in the bowl should be the most beautiful shade of deep coral, just like I imagine a Ukarumpa sunset would look like, which is why I named it so. You’ll wonder how that beautiful liquid was able to hide in the soupy brown mess that was the boiled rhubarb. But it did. And now, my friend, you are equipped to kick back and have yourself a drink.

    Pour a little bit (adjust amount to your taste) into a plain ole glass of ice water, add a lime wedge and one of those little umbrella thingys and charge yourself $5.25 for your downtown drink.

    Be creative – use it full-strength with some pulverized strawerries and ice or something.

    Have fun.

  4. I say, freeze it in the frigorífico for your very own smoothie concoction collection. This of course is based on the assumption that you have access to some sort of rudimentary blending tool.

    If you don’t, add a sprig to your morning tea during steep-time.

    And finally, note that neither of these good endeavors have been approved by the FDA.

  5. …But neither was sassafras tea. And we know full well what we think of that tomfoolery.

  6. Ha! Thanks for all the marvelous suggestions – I’ll give them a try and let you know how successful I am. Cheers!

    P.S. As for the butter, yes, it does indeed get that cold at night. But they say it won’t be quite so cool in the wet season.

  7. I can hear your A-l-a-b-a-m-a twang accent (which I miss!) as I read your writing. Thanks for sharing. Keep the wide eye wonder, sprinkled with words of wisdom, yours and God’s!

  8. Lillian (!) – ha! good to hear from you. I have (very sadly) had no chance to eat mangos, since they don’t grow at our altitude here. Pity, huh? All the best!

  9. One of Mr. Mayo’s favorite pie’s – I am looking for the details of this recipe!!!
    Never cared for the stuff myself. I think we need to send Mango’s to YOU!!!


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