Reaping Rewards

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with lattice crust

With some recent cooking projects, I was again reminded that good things come to those who wait (and preserve).

I miraculously had enough time one Saturday to make a strawberry-rhubarb pie. The strawberries were fragrant and I tootled out to the backyard to clip rhubarb from our generous looking plant. Generous looking is the key here. Once I clipped away the huge, poisonous rhubarb leaves, I was left with only half the rhubarb stalks that I needed. Okay, make a smaller pie. It still turned out great especially with the lattice top crust. You could make a pencil shaving pie and it would still look gorgeous with a lattice crust. I clearly need to plant another rhubarb plant. However, even if I did it would be at least two years until I would have a generous amount of rhubarb. I was always taught that first year growth on rhubarb should be left alone to fully establish in your garden. So this year’s pie was several years in the making.

I also finally got to draw upon a preserving project to make a more authentic tagine. I again had Jerusalem artichokes from the Beneficial Farms CSA and I called upon a tried and true recipe for vegetable tagine to use them up. This recipe has been an indicator of my growing kitchen and pantry sophistication over the years. When I first made it in (probably around) 1999, I wasn’t even sure what a Jerusalem artichoke looked like and didn’t have the faintest idea where to get preserved lemons in my city at the time and probably couldn’t have afforded what seemed like a luxury especially when I could just use lemon zest. So that version was full of substitutions: potatoes for the Jerusalem artichokes, lemon zest for the preserved lemons, etc. A more recent version had the JA and the other ingredients, including real harissa, but still no preserved lemons. I finally got over my Paula Wolfert problem and found a recipe for easy preserved lemons. A new clean jar, several squeezed lemons, and lots of salt later, I was on my way to preserved lemons.

So, yay! Aren’t I sophisticated with my preserved Meyer lemons. However, there they sat in the refrigerator looking weird and cloudy. Finally their time came in this latest, delicious version of the tagine recipe and they did add a certain je ne sais quoi. Mostly, it was probably pride in making my own.

For your cooking (and reading) pleasure:

“My Paula Wolfert Problem” from John Thorne’s Outlaw Cook

Vegetable Tagine with Jerusalem Artichokes

Preserved Lemons