Forced into it

By Jack Elliott
Rainy River Correspondent

With the Xmas Season now in the rearview mirror there will be a lot of forcing going on. Like forcing closed the snaps on various belts and buckles. Like forcing oneself up out of the easy chair. Like forcing the fridge closed to resist the temptation of scarfing down one more piece of fruitcake or a couple of mincemeat tarts.

Guilty as charged, but there is a bit of other forcing going on in the Elliott basement. Rhubarb forcing that is. Last fall I dug up a couple of big, healthy rhubarb root balls and potted them up. After a few weeks of freezing in early December I lugged them down to the basement. I checked on them but nothing seemed to be happening, then on Christmas day there was a whole forest of ghostly white leaves and pale pink shoots. By my birthday on the 30th the first crop was ready. I harvested 4 cups, just enough for one pie.

Forcing rhubarb is done in the dark as you do not want the roots wasting their energy growing leave…. You just want lots of stalks. That is why rhubarb forcing at its height in 19th century Britain was called the crop grown only by candlelight. Fresh fruits and vegetables in that era obviously could not be readily imported but forced rhubarb could supply that ‘spring tonic’ easily and economically.

With my 4 cups of rhubarb, a pie shell (too lazy to make pastry) a cup of sour cream, a bit of flour, a couple of eggs, and half the sugar, I poured the mixture over the rhubarb in the shell. Then a crumble topping with a bit of melted butter, half the brown sugar called for, and some flour, I popped the beauty in the preheated 450 oven for 15 minutes, and then turned the heat down to 350. About an hour later it was done.

Junior and I each had a piece before he headed back to Winnipeg New Year’s eve, I kept one big piece in reserve for New Year’s celebration and sent the rest of home with him.

The question is what do I do with the leftover cheesecake, the deep-dish pumpkin pie, the excess fruit cake, the cookies and tarts. After all there is only so much insulin available.

Oh and surprise! Surprise! Checked the basement and there is a 2nd flush of rhubarb almost ready to harvest and Covid restrictions in full swing. How will I eat it all myself?