Rhubarb Three Ways: Rhubarb Crisp

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I’ve always loved how food creates community. Or is it that community creates food? Either way, they inexplicably go hand-in-hand. A dining room table stretched out with extra leaves, chairs pulled around in all directions, everyone gathered around sitting elbow to elbow. I can’t think of a better description for family. Alaina and I drove up to North Seattle after work for Grandma Ging’s birthday partly last week. It was a long drive with lots of traffic, but I was bringing the birthday crisp so there was no turning back. The atmosphere of the birthday dinner was amazing. I think I had the best seat at the table, on one side Grandma Ging was telling stories with her two best girlfriends. I was completely fascinated as they each built to the others tale and then burst out laughing. These ladies have been life long friends.

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On my other side my year and a half old nephew was exploding with creative energy and teetering on the very edge of a linguistic waterfall, which he will be cascading down any day. He has a fierce love for food, no doubt egged on by his food loving mama. Don’t come between this kid and his dessert, it won’t end well for you, I promise! It was an absolute delight to share food with and cook for these people I can officially call my family on August 20th.

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When someone asks me what kind of life I want 10 years from now, I don’t have anything concrete to say, like I will be making “x” amount of money and we’ll be living…. I want to have a strong, solid community of people with whom we share lively dinners with many glasses of wine while our kids play together. I want camping trips, holiday dinners, and birthday parties. I want to be building friendships like Grandma Ging’s, people with whom I can laugh with many years from now. But mostly, I want to be surrounded by good food.

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Vanilla and Cardamom Rhubarb Crisp

Crisps are perhaps the easiest and most versatile desserts. If you have a good crisp recipe in your arsenal you will never be caught without a dessert. Any kind of fruit of berries, fresh or frozen fruit, it doesn’t matter. This recipe takes the easy crisp to the next level with a few extra ingredients.

1  lbs fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar
the seeds of half a vanilla bean
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 cup regular rolled oats (not quick oats)
1/2 cup dark crown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup chilled butter

Pre-heat oven to 375°. In a large bowl toss together the rhubarb, vanilla bean, cardamom, and sugar. Pour into the bottom of a 2 qt. pan (8×8).

To make the topping, in a medium bowl combine the oats, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Cut in the chilled butter and using a pastry blender or fork until the mixture resembles course crumbles, about the size of a pea. Evenly sprinkle the topping over the rhubarb in pan. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the rhubarb very tender and the crumbles are slightly browned.

Serve with vanilla ice cream for dessert or honey yogurt for breakfast.

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