Happy April, Happy Easter, Happy Fruit Desserts! 'Tis time, now, for regular bakings of crumbles, crisps, cobblers, and clafoutis - not to mention buckles, slumps, grunts, and pandowdy. Oh, don't let all those terms stop you from making something with spring fruit. Crisps and crumbles are cooked fruit topped with some sort of streusel, cobblers are baked fruit topped with biscuits, buckles and slumps are fruit-and-batter cakes that sink after cooking and on the plate; Clafoutis can be considered in that same category.
Clafoutis is a French term which, strictly speaking, should only be used when the fruit is cherry. The French say that if you use any other fruit, this dessert should be called a flaugnarde. But again, why let terms stop you? Just make a mess of batter and spring fruit and call it Buster, for all I care. I just say Clafoutis (Claw-foo-TEE) because it's fun.
Our rhubarb is coming up nicely, so I trimmed off all the largest stalks to make this cake today. It only gave me a scant two cups, however, and you need six cups of fruit for this recipe. No matter; I added in a cup of blueberries and three cups of strawberries. Delicious!
You know not to eat rhubarb leaves, right? The leaves are very high in oxalic acid, which can cause kidney problems in humans. However you'd have to eat something like 11 pounds of rhubarb leaves to put your life in jeopardy. Still, it seems wise to stay away. Just enjoy the tart stalks.
I use the recipe that we got from the Apple Farm - which is below - but there are a million different recipes out there. It's a very custardy cake batter, with lots of liquid. I am enjoying making them in my cast iron pan, but you can use a pie plate if you prefer.
I don't make the sauce, just serve it with whipped cream, whipped creme fraiche, or ice cream.
We've been super busy here at Poppy Corners. First, livestock news. One of our chickens died of natural causes this past week. Ginny, the Rhode Island Red who had been not-quite-right for a long time, was found dead in a nesting box. She was a sweet chicken, but had been sick on and off for the past year and had not laid in all that time. I just couldn't bear to cull her because, at one time, she had followed me around the garden and sat in my lap, while she was recuperating. She died as quietly as she lived. She was a very unassuming chicken.
And, we opened the hive (after the swarm) to a box still overly-full of bees - so many bees - I think they may swarm yet again. Plus, one comb had been built improperly and slid right off its bar onto the floor of the hive, in a pleated mess. So, we got some honey. That's the good news. The bad news is that the bees were seriously pissed at us being in there and one gave me a jab on the leg (she flew up my jeans to my knee). I immediately took Benadryl, grabbed my epi-pen, and stayed horizontal for a solid hour, hoping the Benadryl would kick in before the throat-closing would. And it did. I made it through without the epi-pen. Hooray! However I realized that I have, because of this allergy, become a timid beekeeper, and that is no help to Tom whatsoever. So, we are going to trade some time with my dad - he'll come help Tom when the hive needs seeing to, and Tom will go help him when his hives need work. That will make me feel much better about the whole situation. Neither Tom nor I am ready to get rid of the hive - we just can't imagine it here without bees.
And, Tom spent his entire spring break helping me (well, I was helping him, truth be told; he did the lion's share of the work) build some set pieces for Kate's theater company. It was an interesting project. We made three 4x8 Hollywood panels to be used as walls, and one other 4x8 panel with a working door. We purchased the door pre-hung at Urban Ore, it is hollow, but this one panel is still very heavy. Dad helped us with some Sketch-Up plans, and allowed the use of his tools and shop for the cutting of the wood. After everything was cut, it was just a matter of assembling, which took us a few days. In the coming week, I'll be painting these pieces. We enjoyed learning how to do this and feel even more confident now of our building skills.
And can I just say? A husband who says 'yes' to your every project and finds it a learning process and actually enjoys it even though he has very little experience in said project??? Priceless. Tom's a Prince, for reals.
Lastly, I've potted up all the tomatoes and peppers into gallon cans. They are growing like gangbusters in the 'greenhouse,' after all the mid-80-degree days we've had here. This week, I need to transplant basil into the beds, and sow some collard seeds.