Into The Wildflowers

by Darcie Friesen Hossack
Writer-in-Residence

One of the first things Chefhusband and I noticed after moving to Overlander Mountain Lodge were the wildflowers.

Around the first of June, if you visit places like the Valley of the Five Lakes, wild
crocuses appear along the paths and in every meadow.

From then on, it's as though Creation itself doesn't know what to do with all of its extra paint.

By the end of the month, there's such a riot of every colour, incarnated into yellow Arnica, Buttercups and Golden Ladyslipper Orchids; purple Calypso Orchids, Harebells and Wood Asters; red Paintbrush; orange Wood Lilies and Columbine, that for someone who spends a lot of time looking for the little things, they're enough to cover the wallpaper of your imagination.

Also in June, something else very special begins to appear: Elaine and Chris Robson, with organic produce from their Robson Valley Farm.

If you're Canadian, you know that when it comes to our gardens, there's another first we all look forward to, if with varying degrees of welcome: the springtime advent of the rhubarb patch.

Among cooks and bakers, home or professional, it's a time for celebration. When those first spears begin to push up through the earth, finally, there's something fresh, not frozen, not from winter storage, to simmer into something sweetly sour.

Here in our own kitchen, that means rhubarb compotes for pancakes and ice cream. It means pies and rhubarb upside-down cake. It means pairing rhubarb with last autumn's apples, for a best-served-warm rhubarb-apple crumble with chopped pecans or almonds. And it means a recipe we picked up on a trip to the Maritimes almost a decade ago: Rhubarb Raspberry Grunt (I cannot explain the name).

Without a garden of our own, it's Chris and Elaine's rhubarb we're using to pink up all of our favourite recipes, including this one, which features stewed fruit, topped and steamed together with mildly sweetened dumplings.

And the best part is, if you're either local, or you're staying in one of Overlander's kitchen suites or chalets, fresh organic rhubarb is one of the first fresh offerings this season, available from Stone Peak Provisions at the Jasper East Store.

So, once you've gone out into the park to retrace some of our steps, everyone here at Overlander hopes you'll enjoy a Canadian favourite, from our kitchen to yours.

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Rhubarb and Raspberry Grunt

1 pound rhubarb stalks, chopped into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup golden brown sugar
1/2 cup water
4 cups ripe raspberries

In a wide (9-inch diameter), straight-sided skillet or pot, over medium-low heat, stew rhubarb together with water and sugar, until rhubarb is tender. Add raspberries and cook until juices run.

Meanwhile, make the dumplings:

1/3 cup milk
2 Tbs melted butter
3/4 cup flour
2 Tbs granulated sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 Tbs granulated sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Combine milk and butter. Combine flour, sugar and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to wet and bring together with a fork until combined. Drop by tablespoons onto simmering fruit. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over dumplings. Cover with lid, reduce heat to low, and let dumplings poach for 15 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or drizzled cream.

 

 

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