Hello and welcome to the blog today. It’s a great day to be an Iowan and to enjoy one of the favorite things about spring – rhubarb!
Some in this country have never heard of rhubarb. Grandma used to call it “pie plant”, as did the famous author Laura Ingalls Wilder of the “Little House on the Prairie” series. In her book “The First Four Years” she made mention of forgetting to add sweetener to the pies… (been there – done that) Whatever it’s called, this plant is well known and loved by many in Iowa and rural areas.
Rhubarb is a perennial plant whose green or red stalks are usually harvested between May and June, prior to it “going to seed.” The leaves themselves are toxic to the kidneys. The stalks are edible and have a powerfully sour flavor that, when combined with some sugar, produces a taste that draws a cult-like following. Diced and sweetened rhubarb stalks are most commonly used for desserts: rhubarb crisp, rhubarb pies, rhubarb cakes, sauces, cobblers, sweet breads, as a topping for toast, etc. A favorite combination, strawberry-rhubarb desserts are wildly popular. Even mulberry-rhubarb pies are said to be delicious. (I’m looking for mulberry bushes in this area to try and find out if this is true!) You’ll even find rhubarb in some meat dishes including bratwursts such as those seasonally made by the Edgewood Locker.
The Rhubarb Festival was held today in Manchester, Iowa… just 28 miles from where I had worked an overnight shift on Friday/ Saturday. After getting off at 5:00 AM, it was easy just to camp in the van for a few hours at work and zip over to the celebration. What follows is a series of picturs and captions from the enjoyable event. There are many other festivals in Iowa during the summer and I hope to share some of them with the readers.
These festival took place in a relatively small park that is surrounded on three sides by houses. It was a perfect place for a family event.
Well, that’s all from the rhubarb festival. It was sure fun. I didn’t stick around for the judging of the wines and various baked goods although the tempation was certainly there. When Dad and I went six years ago we had a blast. As I was telling that to an older gentleman (as we ate pie), he said that last year on this day his wife died. She had been retrieving the festival signs from corners all around town. All of a sudden she passed out and died right then and there. The old guy and I agreed she went on to a better place. It was kind of sad though. I know what it’s like losing loved ones… It’s as bittersweet as the tart pie plant desserts we were consuming today.
For now, it’s off to bed and time to get a few hours of sleep before going to back to work. Next week my buddy Johnnie turns 40 and the plan is to go visit him and likely cook some steaks outdoors. Of course, there will be one or two new items to try and see how they working for camping. It will be a fun time… After that, who knows what festival might be coming up? Stay tuned.
If you’ve never tried rhubarb, don’t miss this opportunity… Walmart even carries it in the frozen foods section. Just don’t forget the vanilla ice cream to go with the pie. Here’s a cobbler I made yesterday. Jesse liked the batter but would have nothing to do with the tart filling.
Have a good one! Thanks for stopping by!
Bradford and Jesse James
Jones County, Iowa