The concept of developing a blog in which to share my own recipes was at first an exercise in staving off the delirium that comes when you enter long term sick leave due to a chronic illness. I desperately required a hobby, an interest, SOMETHING, that would keep my mind active during those hours of the day where my body and mind did not require sleep. During the early stages of its conception, I simply sought to create a space where I would share the food I love with no thought as to how it might be received or who would be joining me for the journey. This was a mistake that many bloggers make when first starting out.
After a discussion with my cousin, whose background and passion is PR, I realised that this simple little blog needed something more. It needed direction. It needed purpose. So I sat down and thought deeply about just what it is that defines my cooking and my passion for food. I thought long and hard about the people who have shaped my food journey, about how that journey has changed over the years (primarily due to my health), and exactly what has been retained despite the new requirements of a fatigued and aching body.
The simple fact is, that like a lot of people, my cooking journey was shaped first and foremost by family. By my mother, my grandmothers and my godmother. By these strong, beautiful, creative, opinionated, stubborn, family-driven women who have surrounded me, embraced me, loved me and judged me since I was born. While each of them had their own unique style of cooking, they all cooked with love and with care. Their cooking had a story to it, it meant something, it had MEANING. And when I think of those times when I was lucky enough not only to eat their food, but to watch them cook or to be invited to cook with them, those are the times that have most shaped my own style. This simple nostalgia has created in me a passion for comfort food – and THAT is my style.
Comfort food, or course, can mean different things to different people. To some it may be all about indulgence. It may evoke thoughts of sugary sweets, eating past the point of a few buttons popping off or never being able to turn down the offer of another serving. For others it is about convenience, about the ability to open the freezer and dive into a huge tub of ice cream or pop down the road and grab a bucket of KFC when you need a pick-me-up (interestingly, neither of these first two are particularly synonymous with paleo, with healthy eating or even with healthy living). For me, however, it is about nostalgia. Comfort food is ALL about the memories it evokes of having a meal gently and purposefully prepared by hands that are loving, of sharing a meal with the people I love, and of seeing the pleasure in the faces of others when you serve them food that you have prepared.
This is a huge part of the reason why I love Rhubarb. Of course it has an amazing flavour and of course it is a unique and hardy fruit to cook with. But more than that it evokes memories of love and care amongst my family members. Rhubarb has always been a favourite of my fathers. A family visit to see either of my grandmothers would 9-times-out-of-10 result in a bowl of freshly cooked rhubarb and a bowl of ice cream being placed before us for dessert (and of course my Dad was always the first to be given his!). We would subsequently all sit together and enjoy every…single…mouthful, a rare moment of peace and quiet before the conversation would resume or someone would get up to go on with their business. To me, rhubarb means so much more than dessert, it means family.
In recent years, however, I’ve taken to preparing my rhubarb in a way that is a bit different to my family. While I adore the traditional rhubarb and apple crumble, I’m equally as partial to the gorgeous combination of rhubarb and balsamic. While it may seem a strange combination (particularly if you are only used to balsamic being served on salads), it is actually quite brilliant and I’d strongly encourage you to give it a go if you’ve not had it before. This Balsamic Roasted Rhubarb and Strawberries is also particularly easy and is as simple as throwing the ingredients on a baking tray and popping it in the oven! No tricks, no mess, no fuss. Perfect.
So, while we head into the warming Spring months, why not grab a bunch of Rhubarb from your local farmers market or supermarket and try this one out. Perhaps it will become a new family favourite in your house. Perhaps you’ve got something just like it that already is, a delicious comfort food that evokes glorious memories of days gone by.
If your family loves rhubarb just as much as mine then I’d LOVE to hear from you! Leave me a comment below and share in my comfort food journey!
Balsamic Roasted Rhubarb and StrawberriesPrint This
- 6 stalks of rhubarb, cut into 4 cm length
- 1 punnet strawberries
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons good quality thick balsamic vinegar
- rind of 1 orange or blood orange (optional)
Preheat oven to 180°C or 350°F
Line a medium sized baking dish with baking paper. Be sure to cover all edges so as to catch the syrup.
Lay rhubarb and strawberries evenly in baking dish. Sprinkgly with sugar and drizzle with balsamic. Place in the oven and roast for 25 minutes or until pieces are well cooked but still retain their shape.
Allow to cool slightly before serving. Serve with syrup from the tray, ice cream or cream.