The Crisp

I have to write about the rhubarb crisp Alix and I made last night. After much discussion with my sister on the phone about the massive strawberry-rhubarb crisp she made and my mourning over the fact that I could not gleefully sit at the counter in the kitchen on a sunny morning and eat leftovers with her for breakfast, she provided me with the opportunity to make my own, and that's exactly what I did.

The evening started with a showing at Critical Mass which is a cycling event that happens on the last Friday of every month in over 300 cities around the world to promote bicycle awareness on the roads and to protest the massive amounts of cars that clog our cities. I had heard about it, but I hadn't taken part. So when Alix called me up to invite me out, off we went to cycle peacefully around Montreal in a big group of other equally enthusiastic individuals, blocking traffic, dinging bike bells, honking horns, and chanting clever slogans in french: l'auto, ça tue, ça pue et ça pollue! (Cars, they kill, they stink and they pollute - however, my english translation is lacking the clever french rhymes.)

Here we are congregating in Square Phillips. (The warmest spring day yet! Adorned sandals and shorts. A bright red t-shirt!)

Eventually hunger overtook us and we had to head for home, where we each snacked on a half of one of my rhubarb muffins and had a glass of orange juice. (This detail seems quite important seeing as we had to fuel up for our dinner making escapades.) Then while I prepared chicken breasts braised with cannelloni beans in leeks, cream, white wine and oregano, kale from Libby's garden in Victoria (her mom also came bearing gifts) and quinoa, Alix made the crisp.

My family has a crisp recipe that involves some consultation of various cook books, then some measuring of fruit, some dumping in of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and tapioca and mixing all together, then making topping of cinnamon, sugar, lots of butter, oats, maybe flour and cooking it at 350 degrees F. I could have done this, - although it seems rather vague, to us it has always made sense - but Jean also brought along a recipe from Eric Akis who is the food writer for the Times Colonist, the local paper in Victoria. For a writing class in university, I interviewed Eric and wrote a profile on him. So, being reminded of a personal experience and a connection to home, I was delighted to follow his recipe and was quite pleased with my results (a tart pairing of citrus, vanilla and cinnamon.) Alix also is from Victoria, coincidentally residing on my street as well, however not next door like Libb does, so she too, reaped the benefits of this "local" Victoria meal.

Dinner rocked by the way:

And here's the recipe, with a few minor adjustments.

Rhubarb Crumble
as adapted from Eric Akis

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F


10 C sliced rhubarb (3/4 inch thick)
1 C sugar
1 C orange juice
1 C water
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
4 TBS instant tapioca (or more, you want it to be evenly dispersed throughout the rhubarb)
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBS fresh ginger
zest of one lemon


2 1/2 C rolled oats
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C butter
3 TBS flour
1 tsp cinnamon (or more!)
1/4 tsp nutmeg (or more!)
1/2 C chopped almonds

Combine the filling ingredients in a bowl and put into a 9 X 13 baking dish.

Put topping ingredients in a bowl and combine (use a pastry blender or your fingers to incorporate the butter).

Sprinkle the topping over the top of filling.

Bake for 45 minutes. OR! Until it bubbles in the middle. Not just on the sides. We were so excited that we prematurely decided to take it out of the oven, but when we dished it up the rhubarb was still hard. So patience little one, and let this get nice and syrupy. Mr. Akis says, "until golden brown and bubbling." I would agree.

Serve with ice cream.

Seeing as it's 9:30 on a Saturday morning, and I haven't eaten yet, (my stomach is making noises) I'm going to have seconds for breakfast with yogurt.

- chef murph

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