Some things that are good

rhubarbI have been stalking the markets, waiting for rhubarb. It finally showed up last week. My favorite vegetable. I have all sorts of plans for its short sassy season, but right away on getting it home I needed to make something.


It had been a year since I last had my favorite rhubarb compote, which only takes ten minutes (!) to make. Chop, stir, and onto the stove immediately, along with a custardy French (or “frenched” if you’re my kids) toast.

compote cooking

frenched toast

We added thick and creamy plain Greek yogurt and a spill of fresh market blueberries.

compote with berries and toast

Since Kyle was gone, we decided we would also have this for dinner.

We also decided we should have seconds.

J chops
J chops
J chops

The next time we made the compote (two days later, no shame) Jacob chopped the rhubarb (with a real knife!) while Kyle and Lucas mixed up waffle batter. I sat back and drank my tea, watching them lined up at the counter, three cheerful and hardworking and hungry guys. If I could hold the warm ease of that sunny morning in my heart forever – well. And so I shall try.


I hope you are all feeling some of the same. Happy week everyone – and happy rhubarb.


cooking guys

Elsewhere in things that are good:

Radiolab creator Jad Abumrad, interviewed in The New York Times, recommending this favorite about those first thousand days of wonder.

Illustrated Etymology (thanks Dan!)

Jim Wallis talks about being (or trying to be) on God’s side in an age of bitter political dysfunction.

I’m reading this and am almost embarrassed by how much I like it. (Total number of people surprised by this: zero)

Deanna shared this article about why we sometimes pay more at the farmer’s market – and why we should.

One more nudge to plant some bee-friendly flowers in your backyard.


Elsewhere in rhubarb:

We made this port-splashed, pine-nut rich crumble at a friend’s house this week … amazing warm with a spoonful of clotted cream, and leftovers for breakfast the next morning were possibly even better. (I’m planning a second study, to be sure.)

One of these days when I have more than ten minutes, this rhubarb curd will be waiting for me to make it, and love it, and eat it straight from the jar.

Kimberley is not afraid to admit to her obsession with rhubarb. So I will freely admit to my obsession with her rhubarb almond breakfast cakes.

(No, no, no, rhubarb compote on top of a rhubarb breakfast cake is not “gilding the lily.” It is “delicious.”)

happy chefs


compote and waffle

My Favorite Rhubarb Compote
If like me you are a rhubarb purist, this compote gives you a straight-rhubarb way to have an easy (daily?) hit of the sweet-tart pink goodness, helping maximize the joy of its way-too-short season. On a custardy slice of French toast, on a crisp-edged waffle, on a bowl of plain yogurt, on a square of wheat bread, on a buttery shortbread cookie or on a spoon straight from the pot … I won’t say no to more elaborate rhubarb creations, but I promise that for an every-day version of rhubarb you cannot go wrong with this simplest of treatments.

This is rhubarb-forward and barely-there sugar, and it sits squarely in the sour camp that makes some people insist that rhubarb be wedded with berries. But dolloped on a butter cookie, or spooned waffle-side with some juicy spring berries, that tartness becomes a note that you want your compote to hold. (If you are me, you prefer that tart with or without or any which way, though I can admit I often welcome the sweet harmonies of strawberry – as we’ve noted, some like to keep their same old drummers.)

It is best to make this in single batches, just before you serve them – but it will keep as needed (as if possible!) for at least a week in the fridge.

2 cups chopped rhubarb (~ 3 stalks washed, dried, and cut into small pieces)
2-3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon water, as needed

Mix the rhubarb and sugar in a small sauce pan. If the rhubarb doesn’t immediately start releasing juices, add the water. Heat everything over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and watching that the mixture doesn’t scorch. Cook 5-10 minutes, until the rhubarb breaks down and collapses (like making fruit into jam).

Eat on whatever you are having for breakfast – toast, waffles, yogurt, oatmeal, even a bowl of fresh market berries. It is all good. (Unless, maybe, you are having scrambled eggs.)

16 thoughts on “Some things that are good

  1. We’re a few weeks out from local rhubarb yet, but thanks for all the great ideas ahead of time! I’ll have to make the strawberry rhubarb jam I made last year. My husband would never forgive me if I didn’t. He was so sad when we finished the last jar. But I really like the sound of something more tart.

    Breakfast for me has been a homemade muesli lately. So easy! I can’t believe it took me this long to make my own. Looking forward to having it with local berries in a few weeks.

    Happy rhubarb, indeed!

    • Tara if you want it truly tart, make it how I do when it is just for me: 1 scant tablespoon sugar to two cups rhubarb. It makes my kids sad, but wow is it good.

      I’m hoping I can make some strawberry rhubarb jam this summer. Is your recipe on your blog?

  2. I made a rhubarb compote this week too! What a strange vegetable it is. It always reminds me of my Nana, who had a rhubarb bush in her backyard for many, many years. A little tupperware container of compote was always a sure souvenir when we visited Nana’s house in the Spring.

    • I plan to plant a rhubarb patch this year myself I think. They take a while to get going I guess… And what a nice thing to have as a reminder of someone you love – I always feel like rhubarb is an ‘occasion’ – that makes it even more special!

  3. I have never made anything but pie with rhubarb but this sounds heavenly!! I think I will have to give it a try once I see some rhubarb. I love the tart taste that has and it always reminds me of baking with my grandma.

    • Another rhubarb-with-grandma memory! This makes me happy. Alicia this goes super well with breakfasty things and waffles, so I think you and Mr. Halferty would enjoy it …

  4. Hannah…..we’re in Rhubarb Heaven down here in Watsonville, too. The patch has been producing for weeks, so we’ve had lots of rhubarb compote…..share with Irish friends…..and a Country Rhubarb Cake. Next comes some Bluebarb Jam!

    • Blubarb jam! Ann I hope this will be available for sampling in June!! Maybe when we come down you can show me your rhubarb – I would love to see how much space/light/etc you need.

  5. sigh still waiting on rhubarb ….. and it is so hard to find. I can only get it in one farmer’s stand and the supply is spotty with my hoping ever year not to miss it. oh how I wish for yard for that reason alone. I don’t think it would work as a container plant. No rhubarb compote on top of rhubarb cake is certainly not gliding the lily in any manner. happy rhubarb to you all.

    • Hi Jacquie- I’m pretty sure you need ground for rhubarb, but not positive. There are container varieties for many things though so -?? Isn’t it frustrating waiting for it to show up? I have bend known to walk multiple laps at the market, ‘double checking’! I hope it shows up for you soon …

    • Ha! I think I am part of the brunch cooking team this year, actually. But we will definitely be having rhubarb-something, so I’ll take it ;)

  6. I’m not sure which I was more drawn in by – the rhubarb recipe or L’s sweet toddler chubby arm in the kitchen pic :)

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