Here at this old house, we have done some harvesting this past week. The rhubarb was picked down in anticipation of the coming heat and the first batch of pesto was made with the basil we grow in a container. I had made a rhubarb pie about a month ago when relatives were visiting so this time, I made a batch of rhubarb chutney and then froze the rest in four-cup bags, ready for future pie making.
Rhubarb is an odd plant, one that people either love or hate. The leaves are poisonous and the edible stalks cannot be eaten alone, unless you really like sour! In my experience, even those brave enough to pick a stalk and chomp on it sprinkle each bite with salt. Rhubarb generally needs to be mixed with something else to make it palatable. For the rhubarb custard pie I make, eggs and sugar tone down the sharpness. In the chutney recipe I make, a wild mixture of ingredients go into a pot, things I would have never dreamed of putting together! However, the trained recipe developers at Bon Appetit magazine years ago came up with this gem:
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon minced, peeled fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
4 cups chopped rhubarb
generous 1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup golden raisins (or dried tart cherries)
Combine the first eight ingredients in a heavy, large Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add the rhubarb, onion and raisins (dried cherries). Increase heat to medium-high and cook until rhubarb is tender and mixture thickens slightly (about 5 minutes). Cool completely. Store in the frig; serve at room temperature. This is wonderful with chicken or rice dishes that other chutneys work with.
When I first made this recipe, I couldn’t believe that it would taste good. Looking at it, the ingredients seemed to be too disparate, too foreign to work in harmony and yet, it was so delicious, I immediately shared some with friends.
It reminds me of the Body of Christ. What a motley crew we are and yet, with Christ as our Head, we function as His body here on earth. Each of us brings a unique flavor that might, on its own, be too pungent or overpowering. Yet, when blended together and heated by the Spirit (so to speak), we meld into a delicious and nourishing new creation. Who would have thought?
Now, I am hoping that the cranberry lime sorbert I made for Mah Jongg tomorrow will prove to be equally unique and delicious!