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.