Garden Lessons Learned & The Best Rhubarb Tart

Earlier this month I trusted some internet information which led me to a huge garden blunder. I planted my much cared for indoor tomatoes outside too soon. The weather turned cold and especially windy just days later and being away from home I was unable to protect those beauties. Mother Nature took a toll on the plants, but they held on. Today, in spite of their ravaged leaves they continue to thrive and I am already seeing a few tomatoes. Planting a garden can teach us many lessons. Remaining strong no matter how life chooses to chew us up and spit us out is one of them. Stay calm and plant some seeds. The rewards are great.

tomato plant

Tending a garden also teaches patience. For instance, I planted rhubarb last year and I really, really, really want to pick it, but I can’t. The rule of thumb is to let the plant build its root system and strength over a three-year period before harvesting. It’s the same with asparagus. It’s been 7 years since I planted the asparagus and today we are harvesting more than we can eat. It’s a joy to share it. The reward of patience. Lesson learned

As the world is opening up so is the produce at the market. Rhubarb is plentiful in the spring, but has a short growing season. Get while the getting is good and stock up on the naturally tart stalks. This darling of a vegetable can be added to pies, muffins, quick breads and even savory dishes.

Rhubarb Frangipane Tart

ALMOND FRANGIPANE

14 cup plus 2 tablespoon sugar

14 cup plus 1 tablespoon almond paste

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

14 teaspoon baking powder

14 teaspoon kosher salt

In food processor fitted with metal blade, beat the sugar and almond paste until almond paste is chopped into small bits. Add butter; pulse just until blended. Add eggs and vanilla; blend until smooth. Scrape down the bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and pulse until just blended. Cover and chill while preparing crust.

CRUST

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened

14 cup plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 egg yolk

14 cups all-purpose flour

14 teaspoon kosher salt

3 to 4 stalks fresh cut rhubarb, diced on diagonal (1/2-inch dice)

1 tablespoon sugar

With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl, then beat in the egg yolk. Combine the flour and salt, then add to the bowl, beating on low speed until just incorporated. Place dough in a 9-inch round fluted tart pan. Using fingertips, press the dough evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the pan to cover in an even layer. Dock (prick) the dough every 2 inches with a fork. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet; freeze for 10 minutes or until firm.

Meanwhile, set a rack in the top third of the oven and preheat to 350°. Spoon the frangipane to the center of the tart crust, and using an offset spatula, spread evenly all the way to the edges. Individually place the chunks of rhubarb on the frangipane in a pattern you like, leaving room between the pieces. Sprinkle tart with 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 40 to 45 minutes. Tart will look puffy, but then settle with cooling. Cool completely.

A symbol of wisdom, burning sage is used to achieve a healing state — or to solve or reflect upon spiritual dilemmas

Never A Good Time To Say Good-Bye

black dog peeking over edge of sofa

Good and faithful friends are hard to find, but saying good-bye to one is even harder.

they shared the same birthday

It’s been 15 years since this sweet fur baby found her forever home with us. She was discovered abandoned in a box on a soccer field in Winston-Salem, NC. At the time, my daughter was a college student there at Wake Forest University, home to the Demon Deacons. With school colors of black and gold, it was a natural fit to name this rambunctious puppy, Deacon.

She did have a certain fashion sense like her sister

For all those pet lovers out there I know you get it when I say that Deacon wasn’t just a pet, but a full-fledged member of the family. Her status as “third child” well-deserved. Like most children she loved nothing more than a few good treats, play time and praise. And like a child she was pretty much this mama’s shadow, not wanting to be in my lap, but just keeping me in her sights.

under-foot in the kitchen hoping I drop something good to eat

This was a heart-wrenching week as we made the decision along with the Vet to euthanize our beloved dog. I have never felt such selfish guilt in my heart even though my brain knew it was the right thing to do. As I sat scratching her neck in the Vet’s exam room I was grateful for sharing one last walk around the garden with her, letting her snack on some cheese and telling her how much I loved her. I told her how great it would be to see her brother now.

William’s Homecoming

Here is the link to a previous blog post featuring Deacon’s favorite homemade dog biscuits.

A Grief Poem

I love this artist….Kate Rainbow

I came across this lovely poem by Nancy Cross Dunham on the Modern Loss Facebook Page. I highly recommend this group for grief support.

what I’m learning about grief …

is that it need not be

a heavy gray shawl

to wrap myself in,

clutching my arms tightly

across my chest

nor …

need it be

a granite rock

that I should try

to push away

neither is it …

… at least, no longer …

a vast dark ocean

ready to pick me up

and slap me down

without warning

what I’m learning about grief …

is that it is not me,

but that it offers

to become a friend

a friend …

who will lightly lay a hand

on my shoulder

when tears come in the dark

a friend …

who will laugh

out loud with me

at remembered silly moments

a friend …

who can still hear

the music of our life

what I’m learning about grief …

is that this friend

doesn’t intend

to leave me

but promises

to hold my hand

to carry my memories

a friend …

who will bear witness to my love

as I venture

toward the next day

and the following night