rhubarb compote in October

Yesterday, Danny arrived home from taking Lu to her afternoon pre-school. “Look what I have!” he said, brandishing a lovely bouquet.

Rhubarb. Green celery-like stalks with blooms of rose-colored tips. Dirt still on it. Wholly unexpected.

“E. had some left in her garden. She knew we’d use it.”

Use it we did.

I ran outside to take a photo of it, just out of the garden. A few moments later, something upset me. Something ongoing and not fun. Something that will pass.

In the old days, I would have eaten chocolate. Yesterday I chopped rhubarb instead.

Learning to chop vegetables when you are upset — as a zen practice, as something practical instead of punching a pillow — means your knife skills improve pretty quickly.

Add some honey, some vanilla bean, the zest of a lime and a squeeze of the juice, and stir. By the time I had finished, the upset had left me. There was nothing but sunlight and rhubarb waiting to be roasted on that counter. I cleaned my knife and walked away.

Later in the evening, I roasted the rhubarb at 325 for about 45 minutes. When it had grown soft, I strained the rhubarb juice right into a pot, then set aside the soft chunks of roasted rhubarb. I reduced that liquid until it was rich syrup, and then I poured it into the pile of rhubarb chunks.

(I pretty much followed this recipe, from the amazing Brandi, except I changed a lot of ingredients.)

After an evening to myself, to work and answer emails while listening to Ray LaMontagne over and over again, as Lucy slept, I felt entirely fine. The upset of the afternoon had tiptoed away, memory only, step by step by keyboard click.

When Danny stepped through the door, he was surprised to find rhubarb shortcakes ready for dessert.

12 comments on “rhubarb compote in October

  1. Kathryn

    How wonderful to have rhubarb at this time of year. I love these little posts that you’re writing at the moment and the insight it gives into how you all live and eat. Thank you.

  2. Gluten Dude

    Hey Shauna. First time on your blog and just want to say kudos on a site well done. Been gluten-free for five years (celiac) and am tiring of the same old foods. Will be a frequent visitor to pick up some recipes. See ya.

  3. Jenn Sutherland

    I love this post. So simple and beautiful, and exactly how I feel about cooking…most days in the last 6 months, I get home after too many hours in the office and feel like the last thing I want to do is cook. I want to flop on the couch, or take a long walk with the dog and escape responsibility for awhile. But going to the kitchen, putting on some soft music and picking up the knife both soothes and renergizes my creative spirit. Thank you.

  4. katie @KatieDid

    I find cooking and chopping very calming as well. And Ray LaMontagne- one of my absolute favorites, especially to cheer me up, despite it being very calming music. Hope all is well for you today Shauna!

  5. Wendy in Oz

    I too find cooking soothing, and also a fabulous distraction from other tasks such as cleaning, folding the washing, and going to bed even! There is nothing like pulling out a bunch of ingredients and baking a cake/cook a meal to give a sense of achievement in an otherwise rubbish day.
    We love rhubarb here in Melbourne (altho ours is red on the outside and green on the inside) so much so I’ve planted three different types in my garden and they are growing amazingly quickly! There is nothing like a bit of rhubarb and apple with custard or under a sponge pudding in winter to warm up a dark and cold evening.

  6. Showerman

    LOVE fall rhubarb, so tangy and good. Strawberry-rhubarb pies are the best. Rhubarb and apple is also excellent.

    Forgive me for asking, please, but since it was made such a prominent part of this post…sorry to hear you were upset; what was the problem?

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