Who Is Anastasia?

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New Castle, Indiana Zone 5, United States
When I was 55, I decided to embrace the things I love and hold precious and dear - regardless of anyone else's thoughts and opinion. I am a folk artist who loves flowers - my own flowers, grown by me. I love good, hearty, exotic foods, and I love to prepare them myself. I love the secret garden situated in my backyard, regardless of how junky it gets. No longer able to afford a vacation, this will have to be it for the time being. In the winter months, I still enjoy it. Anyway, here I am sharing my art, favorite recipes, cocktails, gardening tips, and just my usual vents and bantering. After all, I'm old enough to say whatever the heck I want to now ... Oh, the two pictures below are NOT of my garden, although the one with the pink French doors looks very much like the backyard I grew up with. I am searching for pictures of that wonderful place and will post soon.

JEWELS OF MY SOUL

JEWELS OF MY SOUL
My Book Available on AMAZON

Stacey Torres ART Prints

Stacey Torres ART Prints
A very limited selection of reproductions from my paintings can be found here

June 22, 2009

Hip, Hip, Rhubarb!


My Aunt Jeanne made a pie; a rhubarb pie. You’re probably wondering what’s the big deal? Well, as long as I’ve known Aunt Jeanne, she has been on a quest for the perfect pie crust. Her mother-in-law made a magnificent crust that has never been matched – perhaps, until now. Over the years, we’ve tasted and sampled pies that Aunt Jeanne baked, but she always said, “If only I could get that crust just like Harriett’s …” We all thought her pies were great, but Jeanne was not to be dissuaded. My fondest memory of Aunt Jeanne and pies was the precision in which she cut them. One Christmas I watched in amazement as she cut a pecan pie into 15 equal pieces to serve everyone. What began as a joke became family legend.
Back to the rhubarb pie. We were celebrating my uncle’s birthday when Aunt Jeanne announced that we should save room for desert because she had made birthday pie. By the gleam in her eyes, I knew there was something special about this pie. I’m not a rhubarb fan; but I decided to see what the hullabaloo was all about. We all waited anxiously in the backyard while we knew she was inside cutting her pie into 9 perfect slices. But, first, she brought it out to present to us, and with pride, she announced she had reached her pie-making summit, and had her perfect crust! Served with vanilla ice cream, there was silence in the garden as the pie was sampled, and Jeanne waited for the results. Suddenly, there was a burst of jubilee as my uncle led the cheer, “Hip, Hip Hooray, Hip, Hip, Hooray, Hip, Hip, Rhubarb!”
I did not eat a piece of pie that night, and now I’m sorry. Afterwards, I left to ponder what I don’t like about rhubarb. Really, there’s no reason. I used to love it. What had rhubarb ever done to me? Driving down the road, I crossed a railroad track, and a big clump of it sat there staring at me as if I were a criminal. I began to think about rhubarb, and what its purpose was here on earth, besides one great pie I missed out on.
A perennial vegetable from the buckwheat family, I learned rhubarb is native to China and Tibet, and is a high source of Vitamin C. There are dozens of varieties, and it is eaten raw by people in Iraq and Turkey. Wild, European Rhubarb is used for wrapping cheese and pigs love its rhizomes. Himalayan Rhubarb can grow to 7’ tall and has beautiful blossoms.
Rhubarb can be made into a laxative tea, homemade paper, wine, hair coloring, and countless baked goods. It can remove burns on pots and pans. I found the following recipe, and since rhubarb can be frozen, it would make a wonderful dish any time of the year. The salsa can be used to accompany a variety of dishes.

Glazed Roast Lamb with Rhubarb Salsa
1 Leg of lamb (4-6 lbs) Boned and rolled 3 Tbsp Honey 1 tsp Garlic salt 1/4 tsp Ground pepper 2 tsp Red wine vinegar
Rhubarb Salsa
1 C Chopped onions 2/3 C Dark or golden raisins 1/2 C Honey 2 Tbsp Red wine vinegar 4 tsp Chopped Jalapeno pepper 2 Cloves garlic, minced 1/2 tsp Ground cardamom 6 C Fresh or frozen sliced Rhubarb (1-1/2 lbs)

LAMB: Combine the 3 tablespoons honey, garlic salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Place meat on rack in roasting pan; brush with glaze mixture. Roast in 325 degree oven for two to four hours or until desired doneness (150 degrees for medium rare or 160 degrees for medium), brushing occasionally with glaze mixture.

Salsa: In a large saucepan, combine the onions, raisins, honey, vinegar, jalapeno pepper, garlic, and cardamom. Stir in rhubarb. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 min., stirring as little as possible. Uncover and simmer for 5 min. to reduce the liquid a bit. Stir only if necessary to prevent scorching. Set aside. Serve at room temperature as accompaniment to sliced roast lamb. The recipe is from: http://food.sulekha.com

Next time, I won’t decline a slice of that pie.

The Backyard --Today's Vacation Spot

The Backyard --Today's Vacation Spot
A simple garden meal in the shade. No, it's not my backyard, but it looks identical to the one I grew up with at our home in Queens. Looking for an original pic of it to post soon!

Old Fashioned Tips