A harvest basket hangs in my back stoop. Stained and worn from season after season of lugging many a bountiful harvest of sun ripened fruits from the small but plentiful orchard cultivated generations ago on the family property. I relish the arrival of the first of the season's bounty. Once again, I can head out the door, grab the basket and pick fresh strawberries in June and handfuls of sweet cherries in July. Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries follow. When the last of the berries are harvested the sweetest, juiciest peaches ever are ready, followed by pears in stunning shades of yellows, greens and mahogany, works of art in themselves, fragrant and sweet. Anticipating their arrival since the first blooms of spring, my basket will carry heavy loads of apples. The basket, a bit more stained, a bit more worn, has done it's job and goes back where it hangs in my back stoop until strawberry season comes 'round again.
I'm daydreaming as I write this column — I have no such harvest basket or even a back stoop. There is no family property and no orchard of heirlooms, but I can dream, can't I?
Most of us couldn't hope to have an orchard in their backyard but anyone who has a patch of sunny ground can easily grow and harvest rhubarb for years to come.
The town of Lenox, Mass., loves rhubarb so much that it hosts an annual Rhubarb Festival on Memorial Day weekend. This year's festival will be held Saturday, May 28, at the Library Reading Park on Main Street. Learn about rhubarb, buy plants, baked goods, condiments, sample rhubarb chili from local restaurants, enjoy a rhubarb pancake breakfast and so much more. Go to www.LenoxRhubarbFestival.com.
Rhubarb is often referred to as the pie plant. With this recipe, think strawberry-rhubarb pie ... now think pineapple rhubarb pie!
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca
3 cups rhubarb sliced 1/2"
20 oz can juice packed crushed pineapple, drained
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
pastry for 9" double crust pie
Stir together sugar, tapioca, rhubarb, pineapple and lemon juice. Set aside for 15 minutes to soften tapioca. Pour into pastry lined pie plate, finish with top crust. Brush top crust with 1 egg beaten with a tablespoon of water to glaze and sprinkle with a bit of sugar. Cut slits in top crust. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for an hour or until juices begin to bubble and crust is golden. Cool.
Robin Anish is a former caterer who lives in Lenox, where she continues to cater to her enthusiasm for cooking. She can be contacted via The Berkshire Eagle at 75 South Church St., Pittsfield MA 01201.