Friday, 26 May 2017

Spring Tonic

 Spring Tonic

It is rhubarb season again. I’m back in the field for the fifth year, picking then peddling the beautiful stalks. Just raking in the dollars!

Beauty in a Banana Box

I have the same intern. He has the same complaints---hard work, poor pay.

Super-Tom: Rhubarb Intern

K-9 Security is still with me, a little slower, deafer, blinder, cuter.

K-9 Security: Nuggett

I always think of my great grandmother, Alice, while I am picking rhubarb. Although I have absolutely no memory of Old Gram, we lived in the same house for the first two years of my life which were the last two years of her life. She is really just a myth living in my mind. 

Robert, Alice and Baby Bob

Old Gram called rhubarb “Spring Tonic”, the idea being that the first fresh food available on the farm could revive you after the long winter. “She used it as a physic,” my mother said. A physic? Here you go: Physic definition, a medicine that purges; cathartic; laxative. 

A Physic

There are a couple of stories about Old Gram that stand out in my mind. One is that she would go out to her verandah and yell to her adult sons who lived on farms on either side of her. She did not need a phone. She just stood on the verandah and hollered out "GEOOOOOORGE" to the right of her, and "FRAAAAAANK" to the left of her. I have the impression she liked to be in charge. 


One of my older sisters has a vivid memory of Old Gram cutting her toenails on the verandah. With a knife. In my imagination, it is a rhubarb knife.

Pedicure Anyone?

There is so much you can do with "Spring Tonic". I recommend just stewing it if you want to use it as a physic. Rhubarb pie is a sure hit---my mother always added a handful of raisins to soak up the excess juice. There are TONS of Rhubarb Recipes online, from Rhubarb Chutney to Rhubarb Punch. Here is an easy but delicious Rhubarb Cake recipe from my sister-in-law's kitchen.  

Rhubarb Cake
1/2 c soft shortening
1 1/2 c light brown sugar
Cream above together
1tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 c buttermilk
Mix all above
Add 2 c flour mixed with 1/2 tsp salt + 1 tsp b powder
Stir until almost combined
Add 1 1/2 c raw or still frozen rhubarb
Mix until combined
Put in a greased oblong pan
Sprinkle with a bit of white sugar mixed with cinnamon
Bake at 350 until done

Rhubarb Cake

I leave you with a few “Fun Facts” about Rhubarb:
·        It is native to China
·        The leaves are toxic
·        The word “rhubarb” can also mean a heated argument or dispute
·        It is very high in calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, dietary fibre and more
·        It is considered a vegetable, not a fruit

·        rhubarb   - Word used to describe anywhere you didn't originally intend to be, usu. a roadside ditch or somewhere off of a sled or wheeler trail; "He got goin' too fast and put 'er in the rhubarb." Occasionally, rhubarb functions as a verb, as in "He got goin' too fast an' rhubarbed 'er." See also: pucker-brush. (From Carleton County Colloquialisms)

Barb's Pie Social

...Until Next Time...


  1. when i was younger, a common saying was to "keep her out of the rhubarb"....if i only knew then what i know now..... there's NO keeping HER out of the rhubarb!!

  2. This one made me laugh a lot! Excellent. And I might just try that recipe, thank you :)
    Can I still get your rhubarb at the Coop? Tomorrow?

    1. Want some rhubarb, LGW? I can fix you up!!

  3. Love it! The rhubarb, the blog and the humour. All great.

    1. Thanks, Barb S. Need any rhubarb? I can fix you up!

  4. Love it too, the rhubarb, the humor and RhuBarb and her assistant. So happy you allowed yourself a break from the patch to hang out with me on the weekend. Sorry you were in such agony. Several thoughts came to mind as I read the blog; the choice to spell veranda or verandah, rhubarb as a heated argument wondering if that argument can be between man and computer, hollering at adult sons from my verandah, the story Marlene and I have of Lloyd English putting er in the rhubarb. Wonderful blog!!

  5. Thanks Sue! I love verandah spelled with an "H". Good connection with that dispute with a computer! My assistant is waiting on me hand and foot re: knee agony. Thanks for the weekend. YOU are inspirational!!

  6. I think we put' er in the rhubarb a couple of times over the weekend! Thanks for letting me rhubarb whenever I needed to. Hope the knee gets better sooner.

  7. I have great memories as a child just going out to our massive garden and picking stalks of rhubarb and eating I love rhubarb cordial...with age comes a more sophisticated palate!

    Thanks for the memories!

    1. Imagine, eating it straight! It is soooo sour. The cordial sounds good---so Anne of Green Gables.