30 April 2009

Spring Rhubarb Goodness + Culture

For those of you that don't know, my dad's family are Russian Mennonites from Manitoba, Canada. I have many fond memories of visiting my grandparents outside Winnipeg (aka "Winter"peg) as I was growing up. It was a long trip, and we saved up to go once every 4 years. My Grandma Reimer's cooking was so delicious!! Her bread puddings and rice puddings were especially memorable to my childhood taste buds.

It's Spring, though, and I've been doing some work in the garden. I'm being adventurous this year, and am planning artichoke, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, and finally taking care of my rhubarb. I'm ashamed to admit that I bought 2 lovely rhubarb plants 2 years ago, and they've been sitting in the shade (still in their original pots) under a tree in the backyard ever since. Thought for sure they'd be dead, but I'm pleased to report they're not! In building an official veggie garden in the back yard, I pried the pots loose from the grassy area, and found that one of them had stuck roots down through the pot and into the ground! I broke the roots as I was pulling it out. The corresponding stalks and leaves started to droop the next day, so I cut them and we had Fresh Rhubarb Mooss last night! :)

Oh, and by the way, I'm vegan. So here's what I did to make a traditional Russian Mennonite dish into something I could still have (and share with the kids):

Fresh Rhubarb Mooss (aka Ruboabamooss; a type of Pl├╝memooss)
4 c. diced rhubarb
4 c. water
1 c. sugar (I used evaporated cane juice)
3 Tbsp. flour (I use unbleached flour)
1 c. cream (I used hempmilk -- you could substitute your favourite non-dairy "milk")
~~~ Clean and dice rhubarb. Combine with water in a large pot. Cook until rhubarb is tender. In a separate pan combine sugar, flour, and cream, stirring until smooth. Bring to a boil and cook until bubbly. Add rhubarb mixture to cream mixture. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Cool.
(I poured it out into little dessert dishes and let it cool in the fridge 'til we were ready to eat.)

It's funny -- Ralph (age 16) loved it and was gobbling it up. Paddy (age 11) wasn't so sure of the tangyness of rhubarb. Asked him to have "3 more bites" -- and by then, he decided it was good after all and finished up. :)

For those that don't know, pl├╝memooss is a traditional cold fruit soup. As the name might suggest, it's often made with plums, but it is still the generic term we call any cold fruit soup. According to "Mennonite Foods & Folkways from South Russia, vol. I" by Norma Jost Voth, "This fruit soup, made with fresh or dried fruits, has been part of the Mennonite cuisine since the Dutch Mennonites lived in the Vistula Delta (Polish Prussia) in the sixteenth century."

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