Relishing RHUBARB! Rhubarb Crumble Pie

     Out by my grandparent’s windmill, there was a big patch of rhubarb. My mother’s rhubarb flourshed by the barn on the old Newell homestead. Both Grandma Newell and my mother (Phyllis Newell) used this tart fruit (which is technically a leafy vegetable from the buckwheat family) to make a tangy sauce (we ate it like applesauce) and as a filling for pies, crisps, etc. It was a summertime treat.

    When Sandi Dutt recently offered me some homegrown rhubarb, I was not about to pass up such a generous offer.  This ruby red variety came from her sister’s farm in Minnesota. (We have a patch but the stalks are green and it is far from being prolific.)
     The big decision – what to make? So many recipes . . . but I finally decided on my mother’s Rhubarb Crumble Pie. It’s easy to prepare and we love the combination of the crunchy oatmeal crust with the cooked rhubarb.

Rhubarb Crumble Pie     Makes one  9” pie
Crumb Crust:
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup al-purpose flour
1 ½ cup oats (I use old-fashioned but quick-cooking would work, too)
½ cup melted butter
½ cup chopped nuts, optional (we like the added crunch)

1.  Mix all ingredients; reserve enough for topping.
2. Pat remainder into a sprayed or greased 9” pie plate.

½ cup granulated sugar
1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 to 4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1” pieces (1 lb. rhubarb stalks = 3 cups of raw, sliced rhubarb) 

1.  Mix ingredients until rhubarb is well coated. Turn this mixture into the Crumb Crust; sprinkle rhubarb with the reserved crumb mixture.
2.   Bake at 350° for 45 minutes, or until rhubarb is soft and juice (from the cooked rhubarb) has thickened.
3.   Serve warm topped with whipped cream or ice cream (but it’s good cold and with or without the additional toppings).
Mini Fiji fraternity reunion -- ready to eat Rhubarb Crumble Pie w/ Ice Cream (Barry West, Jim Taylor, Greg Stuart).

About Rhubarb . . .
·    Choose rhubarb with moderately thin, crisp stalks that are brightly colored, and with leaves that are unwilted and blemish-free.
·    To prepare rhubarb, remove leaves and rinse stalks just before using, patting dry.  Trim the ends and cut into 1” chunks.  Remove any tough strings as you would with celery (although they will usually break down during cooking).
·    Leaves should never be eaten, because they are full of toxic oxalic acid.
·    Fresh rhubarb is highly perishable, so wrap it tightly in a plastic bag to retain moisture, refrigerate, and use within 3 days.
·    You can also freeze it for up to a year:  Cut in into 1” chunkcs and seal in an airtight bag.

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