Near the beginning of my Cookie Journey, I said I would try my hardest to use seasonal ingredients or stick with a current holiday theme when researching what new cookie recipe I was going to use each week. Did I make something Valentine-y back in February? I can't even remember. I'll have to check back and see. Anyway, this week is definitely sticking with that promise. You can't get much more seasonal than RHUBARB! What an unusual ingredient. My earliest memories of rhubarb go back a looooong, looooong way. My Grandma on my Dad's side had a nice little patch of rhubarb and she would make rhubarb crisp. Made just like apple crisp, it had a crunchy oat topping. The only way to enjoy rhubarb, in my opinion, is with a heavy dose of sugar. Rhubarb is VERY TART! I cannot imagine taking a bite of raw rhubarb and eating it by itself.
"What is rhubarb?" you might ask. That's a really good question! It looks a little bit like celery with a slightly pinkish color to it. It grows in stalks, but not in stalks bundled together like celery. Since rhubarb is served primarily in desserts, you might think it's a fruit but it's actually a vegetable. Bet you never saw that one coming! Bet you didn't know I was so smart either! I didn't know it either until I just looked it up on Wikipedia.
The rhubarb plant is actually quite pretty. The pink stalks, the green leaves. The leaves can become really big and bushy. My friend Joy gave me some rhubarb last year. I hadn't ever baked with rhubarb myself. Just memories of eating what my Grandma made when I was a kid. Joy asked me if I wanted some and then shared her recipe with me for some bars. I made the bars. Boy oh boy...there was a lot of sugar in there! I asked Joy this spring if her rhubarb was ready and she promised me some as soon as it was up. She brought a grocery sack full of it to me at last week's soccer game. I had already done a little research, knowing I wanted to use rhubarb in a Cookie Journey recipe. I decided to go with this recipe from Martha Stewart. These Rhubarb Crumb Squares are so yummy and not too heavy on the sugar. Just the right combination of sweet and tart and the bars are almost like a little cake. I love them! As is typical with Martha, there were several steps and a few more bowls to wash when I was done than I would prefer. But nothing overly difficult. I was able to make these while I was fixing dinner one night this week.