Seasonal Produce Anxiety

Rhubarb

I don’t know about you, but I don’t spend the winter worrying if I’ve made the best use I could of storage vegetables. As good as they are, the selection is small enough and their shelf life is long enough that I’m ready to move on as soon as spring arrives.

That’s when my anxiety begins, from peas to tomatoes, from rhubarb to peaches, warm weather produce has its short turn on the stage before retreating for another year. Every year, I make grand plans to use each of those fruits and vegetables in multiple recipes and every year my accomplishment consists of not missing them entirely. Bonus points for freezing a bag or two along the way.

I’ve meditated – I know that being present in each moment is a healthier path, but I can’t help feeling a growing sense of panic when I realize that one of my favourites (or that one I keep saying I’m going to try, year after year) is disappearing from the markets. I also seem to manage to make the recipes I’ve loved since childhood more often than experiment with the masses of new ones I bookmark each year.

This year, I’m batting above my average (at least, I think that’s what I’m doing – baseball metaphors are not my forte). One of my mother’s friends gave her an enormous bag of rhubarb and I’m crossing a few of those new concoctions off my list.

Shortbread

My favourite so far is rhubarb curd. I used Lara Ferroni‘s recipe and went ahead and made the rhubarb bars, too. The shortbread topped with baked curd is heavenly, though I think that next time I’ll have a little beet juice ready when I make the curd, to punch up the colour. The bars only used half the curd, which I’m reserving for some parfaits that are going to show up here soon. If you make this, I recommend baking a visitandine at the same time, as it uses up four egg whites. If you have any ideas for the other two, let me know.

There is still quite a bit of rhubarb left, so there’s definitely some roasted rhubarb and a strawberry-rhubarb crisp in the offing. I might try one of the savoury rhubarb recipes I’ve been eyeing, or I might revisit this recipe or this one. With a bit saved in the freezer, I’d say I’m actually making good use of rhubarb this year.

Now, if I can just stop thinking about all the things I meant to do with spring peas or the fact that strawberry season has arrived.