Diana B. gets the Godiva and Amazon. Congratulations, Diana, and please respond to my e-mail so your treats can be sent.
Thanks to all who left comments. Maybe next time the random number generator will like you best of all.
Speaking of which: Be sure to check out this Friday’s giveaway, which is somewhat otherworldly.
Rhubarb in every yard
I recently attended a barbecue that was wryly dubbed “Grill, baby, grill!” by its hosts. As I was leaving they gave me a small sack of newly cut rhubarb. Alaskans are nuts about the stuff. In the old days, rhubarb was the first fresh food of the year. To the pioneers it must have tasted positively ambrosial after a winter of sourdough bread and boiled beans.
Modern-day sourdoughs can get all the fresh produce they want at Costco, yet they maintain an ancestral fondness for this vegetable that masquerades as a fruit. Even people who don’t eat it grow it, probably because it takes no horticultural talent at all. Stick a rhubarb root into dry cat litter and by morning you’ll have enough stalks to bake a pie. (Stick it in used cat litter and you’ll have enough for two pies.)
I worked at the Anchorage Daily News for 17 years. Each spring I’d see rhubarb crisp or rhubarb pie parked at the newsroom coffeepot – and, often, extra stalks just begging to be adopted.
When I mentioned my ’barb bonanza to another friend, she recounted a recipe that sounded so garish I simply had to try it.
A rhubarb rhevelation
Dice 4 cups of rhubarb and spread it in a greased 13-by-9 pan. Sprinkle a 3-ounce box of strawberry Jell-O evenly over the top. I used strawberry banana ’cause I’m just freaky like that. (And I bought the generic version ’cause I’m just frugal like that.)
Next, sprinkle on 1 cup of sugar. Because even Jell-O doesn’t have enough sucrose when the subject is rhubarb.
Stir up a yellow cake mix, pour it over the sugar drifts, and bake. The result: a rhubarb upside-down cake whose base color is truly startling. Not red, but a kind of radioactive deep pink, the color of the sweet-and-sour chicken in cheap buffets.
And damn, was it good. Indescribably good. Hate-myself-for-loving-it good.
My hostess, Linda B., also loved it. In fact, we both loved it way too much. After a couple of pieces we mutually agreed to donate the rest to the Daily News, where Linda still works. Apparently it was a big hit there, too, a real rhubarb rhevelation after years of pies and crisps.
Another friend has hinted at a rhubarb surplus, so I may do a second cake. Linda B. could always take the rest of it to work. If there’s any left, that is.