True confession: I am a little bit obsessed with the weather. The first thing I do in the morning – before checking my email or even making coffee – is look at the forecast. And it’s not just that I want to know the temperature so I can dress myself accordingly, I want to know everything: sunrise and sunset time, wind speed and direction, humidity, barometric pressure…all of it. Barely before kissing my husband good morning, I’ve already looked at the hour-by-hour, the 10-day forecast, and the Doppler radar. A process I repeat at least 15 more times during the day. (Yeah, I know. I’m weird.)
I’m not a control freak. I know logically that I can’t change the weather just by looking at it obsessively. (Lord knows, I’ve been disappointed far too many times to believe that!) But there’s part of me that believes knowing is the next best thing. I can’t control it, but I can be ready. Ready to tote an umbrella to the baseball game, ready to say goodbye to the sun for a week, ready to wear 50 SPF to the farmers’ market.
Except I’m learning that “knowing” rarely equals real preparedness. And it doesn’t change anything. I still get caught in the rain, still get melancholy when the sun disappears for days, still get sunburned. And instead of being able to roll with it, I find myself annoyed that the hourly forecast was dead wrong or confused that the radar looks so different than the sky.
But I’ve realized that I’m stuck looking at the radar instead of the horizon, mad at the sky because it won’t cooperate with the computer screen. I don’t know when I got so literal about the weather, but it’s happened. And now I have to find my way back to the romance of being surprised – good or bad – by the seasons.
Perhaps that’s the worst part these days: the seasons. As a northern cook displaced to the south, I don’t have a feel for the seasons anymore. I don’t know what grows down here and when. The winter wasn’t that cold, the spring seemed nonexistent, and the summer – well, it’s practically tropical. I go to the market and I don’t understand what I’m seeing. Should the tomatoes be out already? Why does that farmer still have kale? Are raspberries in season yet?
Last week, when Anthony and I were visiting my family back in Connecticut, I was shocked to see rhubarb lying around the house. It seems like rhubarb’s been gone for months down here in Georgia. When Anthony brought home a pint of sour cherries from the farmers’ market later that afternoon, I almost died.
These tart, rosy spring delights have such fleeting growing seasons that it was pure joy to see them blushing on the counter – in mid-July! – whispering possibilities at me. I considered making a complex cocktail, an interesting sauce, or a tart jam. But I finally deicide on something much simpler and a bit more spontaneous: Sour Cherry-Rhubarb Crisp. It was perfect – a little tart, a little sweet, and so so juicy.
I was still thinking about rhubarb and sour cherries as we boarded the flight home to Georgia, wondering how I could recreate such a crisp and how long I’d have to wait until they were in season again. I pulled out my phone to look it up (and to check the weather!), but I stopped myself. I’ll see then when they come back to the farmers’ market. Until then, there are peaches and plums for miles and apples on the way.
Sour Cherry-Rhubarb Crisp
We made this with fresh sour cherries, which are incredible, but have a very short season. You can substitute frozen sour cherries if you can’t find fresh ones.
Serves 6 to 8.
4 cups rhubarb, sliced into 1-inch pieces
2 cups sour cherries, pitted
¾ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon kirsch
¾ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup rolled oats
½ cup dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Combine rhubarb, cherries, sugar, cornstarch, and kirsch in a large bowl, and toss to coat. Pour the fruit mixture into an 8×8 square pan.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, butter, nutmeg, and salt. Using a spatula (or your fingers), bring the mixture together into a loose crumble. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the fruit.
Bake until the filling it hot and bubbling and the topping is crisp and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.