I like to start most days with a dish of yogurt, preferably Straus (I know, it's not local--but it's so good!) and fruit. And that's a lucky thing. Back in the old days, when I wrote checks at the grocery store (instead of using my debit card), sometimes I had a hard time remembering the date--even the month could escape me for a second or two. My clever trick was to think back to the day's breakfast. "That's right, I had yogurt with strawberries this morning...it must be June."
In the winter I rely on preserved, frozen, or dried fruits. If I wasn't lazy last August and September, that means home-canned pears, or applesauce. Sometimes I go with frozen pineapple. If I can remember where I hid the dates from my family, I add a few. Lately I've been eating my morning yogurt with delicately spiced stewed prunes (a favorite).
But this past weekend, one of my favorite shifts of the year happened. There was rhubarb at the store, and just like that, winter was firmly forgotten. The clerk asked (they always do) if I would be making pie with it. Much as I love rhubarb pie, it's not in this rhubarb's future. Instead, it's getting unceremoniously stewed, and stored in the refrigerator for breakfasts.
On the off chance I have to write a check tomorrow, I shouldn't have any trouble. It might be raining out, or even hailing, but I'll know what month it is. I'll remember my morning's yogurt, the slight rough edge the fruit put on my teeth, and the wake-up call its brisk flavor gave me. Rhubarb. April.
I follow--vaguely--Deborah Madison's recipe for stewed rhubarb from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.
1-1/2 lb. rhubarb
1/2-2/3 cup sugar
rind and juice of one orange
1 capful of orange blossom water
Cut the rhubarb into approximately 3/4 inch pieces, and combine in a heavy pot with other ingredients. Cook over a low flame until the rhubarb breaks down--about 10 minutes.