Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rhubarb Sauce

aerial rhubarb

Rhubarb crops up every spring, and everywhere, in Red Lake, one of the only vegetables tough enough to actually flourish in a northern climate on its own, what with our long winters and paltry soil. It grows wild almost anywhere, making its appearance on nearly every Red Lake resident's property, whether they want it there or not. It still has its designated patch along the side of my parents' house, and has been there as long as I can remember.

A seasonal vegetable, which I have never once seen in a supermarket, it's always been firmly rooted in those fading days of spring and the early weeks of summer, when days began to lengthen and I could start running through sprinklers on the front lawn. In the kitchen, it always figured most prominently in the form of jelly. As a child, the sight of large mason jars, holding sacs of cheesecloth filled with pureed rhubarb, slowly draining its juice, was both familiar to me and yet odd, a part of some strange science experiment my mother conducted annually. The sacs of cheesecloth, stuffed with rhubarb and stained a dark pink, looked a bit like...well, a bit like harvested organs. Suffice to say, I was always a little put off by them. Yet I delighted in taste testing the batch of jelly (but then, I loved eating just about anything sweet), happily spooning the still-warm sugary goo into my mouth.

This sauce, well tarter and more intensely flavourful, accented with the bitterness of orange and the warmth of cinnamon, I would as happily spoon into my mouth.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Running Revival

orange ginger punchcubular

Years ago, I used to be a runner. And by "runner" I mean I used to jog a few kilometres on a relatively regular basis during the summer months, and sometimes in fall and spring. I was on the cross country team a few times, but basically anyone who could run three km without passing out or vomiting could be on the team. I wasn't half bad myself, probably for those reasons. I could jog several kilometres without stopping and usually managed to muster a sprint at the very end, and I never came absolutely last, but I never progressed much beyond the average jogger.

A few years back, though, I started going for longer jogs than before, up to 13.5 km, which, to me, was like a miracle. I even began to almost enjoy it, which was even more miraculous. Running, though I'd done it for years, was never a pleasant experience. I did it for the high at the end, the feeling of accomplishment, the "Look! I put my body through all this pain and lived!" And of course I did it because it was exercise, it required minimum gear, and I didn't have to pay for a membership to get myself out on the road at some ungodly hour and pound the pavement.

All was going well, and I was even thinking of training to run a half marathon, but then I made the very bad mistake of going out for a long run just twenty minutes after eating. Despite the severe cramps that made me feel like I was getting knifed through the intestines, I stubbornly stuck to my route. Eventually, however, I had to acknowledge the reality of my situation, but resolutely believed that I could make it in time to the beach near the end of my route where there were public washrooms. When I got to the beach, nearly crippled with pain, I half ran, half hobbled up to the washrooms like a maimed dwarf, and desperately pulled on the door. It was locked.