Saturday, March 19, 2011

Winter Is Over and Past!

I woke up this morning and I wanted out.  Birds were singing and delicious smells of earth and flowers were coming in my window.  Two of my cousins are in Everett this weekend instead of Palo Alto and Iowa, so I had planned on going up north shortly after breakfast.  Which is fine.  But I've spent many of my last several weekends being social and I wanted some time to be me... in silence.  Fortuitously, my aunt called and said everyone was moving slowly, so maybe we could meet up before dinner?

Suited me fine.  I went and washed my hair and took out the recycling and then I went for a walk.  For a couple of hours I walked over north Cap Hill taking pictures (and figuring out the rudimentary manual controls on my camera) and breathing.  Volunteer park was filled with families.  The koi in the koi ponds looked particularly handsome. The reservoir glowed deep teal.  The crows were raucous in their delight with the day, and I kept fighting the urge to write Anglo-Magic-Realist short stories in the mode of A.S. Byatt-- all about a woman who lives in a city by an inland sea and communes with the wise fish who hear all the secrets of lovers who sit by their pond.  (If I develop an actual plot rather than a handful of images I may yet follow through.)  Anyway, everything seemed alive and suffused with joy and intelligence. 

On my way home I stopped at the grocery store and bought a pound of rhubarb for to make a something or other to augment the raspberry cheese cake brownies (recipe coming later, if I think it's worth while) I made last night, before I remembered that one of my cousins has given up chocolate for Lent.  I had been thinking idly of rhubarb upside down cake, but I didn't have enough butter.  Ditto the rhubarb crisp idea.  Eventually I settled on a rhubarb custard.  Except no where could I find a recipe for what I wanted.  At least, not under that name. 

Eventually I adapted a recipe for rice pudding of all the peculiar things, and I offer it here to you all.

Rhubarb Custard

4 cups of chopped rhubarb.  This is somewhat less than a pound, but extra rhubarb has never been a problem for me.
1 1/2 cup whole milk
2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp muscato (it's a light sweet white wine, which could probably be omitted, but I had it so I used it)
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a souffle dish (I would suggest an 8"x8" baking dish or 9" deep pie plate, but all I had that did not already have baked goods in it was the aforementioned souffle dish), and toss in the rhubarb.  Toss the rhubarb with 1 Tbsp sugar and the moscato.  Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan bring the milk to a simmer.

While you are waiting on the milk, whisk together the rest of the sugar, , the eggs, the vanilla, the cinnamon and the salt. If the milk simmers while all this whisking is going on, remove it from the heat.

Gradually add the hot milk to the egg mixture while stirring continuously.

Pour over the custard and bake at 350 until puffed and golden and set.  Details on the timing of this when it comes out of the oven.  I went to about an hour and ten minutes, before allowing it to continue cooking in the oven with the heat off. 

I used more moscato than what I outline above, and it was too much.  Between the extraneous moscato and the liquid the rhubarb is throwing off, there is too much liquid in the dish.  The smell is intoxicating, but the evidence suggests that the texture may be less than perfect. Some of this trouble could have been avoided by baking the custard in a shallower dish with more surface area, and placing it in a water bath. 

On further exploration most people will probably want more sugar than I used, and possibly less rhubarb.  Next time.  For there is going to definitely be a next time. 


  1. I feel that the "next time" here should definitely involve ME. Just saying.

  2. Hmmmmmm... but we've already established that our schedules flirt with the incompatible. I might not want to wait that long.