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2016-08-22 07:03:40

Alaska's favorite plant FAIRBANKS We're in the thick of rhubarb season, where the ubiquitous plant is showing up in pies, crisps and desserts all over Alaska kitchens. It's so easy to grow here, and so prolific, that just about everyone has Ray Ban RB4176 Sunglasses Shiny Black Frame Light Green Polarize
Ray Ban RB4176 Sunglasses Shiny Black Frame Light Green Polarize their favorite recipe, be it something sweet or savory or even drinkable. How's that for food diversity? Truth be told, I had never tasted rhubarb until I moved to Alaska, and I'm still slow to warm up to it. Growing up in the South, rhubarb is a foreign concept; we had heard of it, but few of us had ever seen it let alone tried it. The closest I ever got to it was when the Joker warned Batman that you "Never rub another man's rhubarb." My first experience with rhubarb was when former Managing Editor Kelly Bostian brought a strawberry rhubarb pie into the office, thus ushering in a new world of this foreign delight that people rave over. Needless to say, I was not impressed. The strawberry part? That was great. The rhubarb part? Meh. And it's not for lack of trying or lack of advice. If I had a stalk for every time someone has told me, "Well, you need to try my strawberry rhubarb pie," or "Well, you need to try my rhubarb crisp," I'd be the Johnny Rhubarbseed of Alaska. In the years since that first fateful pie tasting, things have gotten a little better, slowly. I've found a rhubarb crisp recipe I actually like, but it has so much corn syrup in it you expect Wilford Brimley to appear in your kitchen warning you of "the diabeetus." (I still make it, diabeetus be damned.) I've even had a rhubarb chutney that wasn't too bad and am planning to try the rhubarb salsas that readers submitted when the request went out for recipes over Facebook and Twitter. And as far as the pie, even that has gotten a little better. It's still not on top of my list of favorites, but with enough sugar and ice cream, anything is palatable even a strawberry rhubarb pie. More like a crisp than a cake, but it doesn't get much easier or yummier than this. Nikki Best, formerly of Fairbanks 1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/4 inch pieces (between 3 and 4 cups) 1 3 ounce package strawberry Jell O 1 and 1/2 cups finely chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb In a small bowl, combine the flour, oats and brown sugar. Cut in butter until crumbly. Set aside 1 cup crumb mixture; press remaining mixture onto the bottom of a greased 9 in. square baking pan. Set aside. For the filling, in a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the salt, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add egg; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in rhubarb. Pour over crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake at 350 for 35 40 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cut into squares. Yield: 16 squares. Note: If using frozen rhubarb, measure rhubarb while still frozen, then thaw completely. Drain in a colander, but do not press liquid out. This goes well as a condiment with pork, chicken, duck or lamb, as well as part of a cheese plate. 3/4 cup sugar (adjust the sugar down to 1/2 cup, depending on your taste. Feel free to substitute brown) 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger 1/2 cup chopped red onion (the smaller the onion pieces, the better) 1/3 cup dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, raisins, whatever you have on hand and you like) Combine first eight ingredients in heavy large Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add rhubarb, onion and dried fruit, stir; increase heat to medium high and cook until rhubarb is tender and mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Cook, stirring as needed, for another 15 to 20 minutes, until it is at a nice, thick consistency. Cool completely before use. Can be made one day ahead. Cover and chill to store but bring to room temperature before serving. We have about 6 cups of frozen spruce tips in our freezer so we can make this throughout the winter. It's better with fresh than frozen rhubarb, though. 2 tablespoons chopped spruce tips 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger In a medium nonstick saucepan, combine sugar, water and orange peel. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add rhubarb slices and reduce heat to medium. Simmer gently until the rhubarb is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. When rhubarb mixture is cool, transfer to a food processor fitted with a steel blade or to a blender and process until smooth. Scrape the puree into a large bowl and add the bell peppers, onions, jalapeno, honey, lemon juice and ginger. Mix well. Serve at room temperature or chill if desired. Serve alongside or with chicken or turkey or as a topping over leafy greens.

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