With the exception of pumpkin pie, I really have never been a pie person. Everyone that knows me, knows I am obsessed with cake, donuts, and bread. But Ryan is totally a pie person. And so we’ve now reached a compromise where I make cake 90% of the time and pie 10% of the time. Just kidding. Kind of.
Anyway, I’ve always known that Ryan’s favorite pie was Strawberry Rhubarb. I would always remember this at the most inopportune moments (his birthday in July, Christmas, in the fall after a first round of midterms) when rhubarb is out of season. I constantly whined to Ryan “I would have made you a Strawberry Rhubarb pie, but its out of season and nobody sells frozen rhubarb waaaaah.”
And then one day last winter Ryan brilliantly suggested that we buy a bunch of rhubarb this spring and freeze it ourselves. So that is what we set out to do this spring.
Our farm had a harvest of rhubarb (before the CSA started), and we bought one bunch. Apparently, in our excitement to make a pie, we completely forgot about the brilliant plan we’d hatched over the winter. We went to the farmstand the next weekend and there was no more rhubarb to be had! I panicked. WE’D MISSED OUR CHANCE AGAIN!!! After waiting all winter!?!?!?! Nooooooooo!!!!!!!!
I did some researching around the internet and found that rhubarb was in fact still in season. Phew, we still had a chance. So the next time we went grocery shopping I went to pick some up. Except there wasn’t any! I talked to the produce people, and they confirmed that rhubarb is in season, but they’ve just been having a really hard time getting it for some reason.
By the 2nd trip with still no rhubarb, I realized I needed to get serious about this. I started calling all the grocery stores in Longmont, asking if they had rhubarb. It took about a week until somebody finally had some. I let out a little shout of “ohmygoshreally!?!” over the phone and I am pretty certain the produce guy thought I was crazy.
I literally raced over to King Soopers on my lunch hour to buy up all that rhubarb. Well, initially I took it all. But then I felt bad…. I mean, there was a rhubarb shortage going on in my city. Everyone must be feeling the pain. So I left four stalks (because according to my mother-in-law that is how many is required for a single pie), and took the remaining 3.5 pounds home. (Well actually, I took it back to the office with me and kept it under my desk for the rest of the afternoon, which was kind of awkward.)
So I lugged the rhubarb home that night. I told Ryan all about it, and then got distracted by some other project (typical). So, Ryan ended up processing all the rhubarb. Thanks, babe! He chopped it up and froze it on cookie sheets for an hour before dumping it all in a plastic ziplock bag, which went back to the freezer. That way, the pieces don’t freeze together in a big ice block, and you can easily scoop out what you need without having to thaw that big ice block. (We did not think this up ourselves. We googled “freezing rhubarb”. The interwebs is smart!)
The next weekend we were randomly in our old King Soopers in Boulder, and I was wondering if Boulder was also experiencing a rhubarb shortage (and also wanted to see how they were charging an arm and a leg and looky how I got mine for so much cheaper hahaha Boulder is expensive). I strolled through the produce and lo and behold, they had rhubarb. Like, really maybe over 10 pounds, actually spilling off the shelves! And the worst part: $0.99 a pound after I had just paid $2.99 a pound in Longmont! Has there EVER been a time in history where something was more expensive in Longmont than Boulder?! Probably never. Really, I would put money on it that this was the first time.
So there I was standing by myself and I said (probably much too loudly) “99 cents a pound!?!?!” I am pretty sure like 3 people turned and looked at me as I stood there, jaw dropped, staring at all that beautiful, cheap rhubarb.
And that, my friends, is how I became the Crazy Rhubarb Lady of Boulder County.