I recently had the terrifying realization that at some point in the past ten years I had become an adult.
Life hadn't sent someone to my home with a bouquet of flower and a handshake congratulating me into the secret world of adulthood. There was no card. No special announcement. We have sweet sixteens and quinceanera to celebrate our teens. First birthday parties are a must for any child, though they don't remember it and most of that cake will end up everywhere except the child's mouth. When women are close to term we have bridal showers where the knocked up is floated on a lily pad and worshiped by her friends before the ritual ooh'ing of the gifts takes place.
Yet, we have no pinpoint for being an adult. It just, apparently, happens.
What's scary is the disillusionment you have about adulthood when you're young and tottering about. As a kid I held the view that my parents just knew everything there was to know about the world via a handbook for adults. They knew what was right and what was wrong. They had lived life and their advice was golden and appreciated. When you had problems your parents are the ones you ran to who instinctively knew what the solution was whether it was how to solve your math homework, what clouds were made of, how to spell the letter "B," or whether Jesus or George Washington founded America (my concepts of time and letters were rather loose at the age of two). Your parents knew how to raise a kid and do it well because adults just DO.
Horror of horrors when one day you realize they were just making it up as they went along. Seriously! Your parents probably almost killed you a dozen times over because they were just guessing! No book, no class, no anything. They had sex one night and you were a result that they had to instruct through life.
In California you have to take a class, pass a written exam, have 100 logged practice hours, possess a proper state identification, and pass a driving test to get a driver's license but you can go start having a kid right now. When it gets here you are officially responsible for the healthy mental, emotional, and physical development of a helpless human being. There is no preparation for it. It's just your inherent right, and God help you if you screw it up.
Think about it. How messed up is that?
Adulthood doesn't slam into you like a freight train, either. Rather, adulthood is an assassin, slowly, stealthily stabbing you with the utmost precision over and over. A shiv to the wallet and you now have electric bills and a Netflix account. Needles in the eyes and - BAM! - you need glasses. Soon you're bleeding out in the street gripping onto your library card and wondering how the hell you have a mortgage when it seems that only a few days ago you were listening to music with friends during your last day of summer vacation.
Congrats, you are, apparently, somehow, an adult. You realize there is no book or great secret to it all. You're just bumbling along only now you have a gym membership because you don't have the metabolism of a five year old whose every prerogative involves running around somewhere chasing an imaginary hamster. You get a punch card for your oil changes because the tenth one is free and that is an incentive worth pursuing because that thirty dollars could go towards paying off student loans or buying a nice bottle of wine for dinner. You have responsibilities and no real idea half of the time of how to really go about them.
So the only thing you can do is make the best of it.
However, adulthood comes with perks. Rated-R movies! Paychecks! Bourbon is a nifty bonus. Even better, you get to do whatever the hell you want in the kitchen.
I never got to have rhubarb growing up. My parents didn't like it, so they never bought it. It was only as an adult I finally picked up those jaunty red stalks and discovered their flavor. My first bite of it was raw. It was as tart as rejection and it nearly made me weep. The farmer who gave it to me laughed and took pity as I attempted to swallow the sour, flossy fibers in my heroic attempt at propriety. He charmingly assured me that it was best to usually cook it in order to mollify the slapping flavor. However, he produced a jar of honey and dipped a small, baby stalk of it into the honey and encouraged me to taste. "This," he assured, "is the exception."
I took a bite and it was floral and candy sweet, the sour was beaten back, mellowed by the humble acidity of the dark wild honey. Since then I can't help but play with rhubarb whenever I see it. I'm an enamored school girl who blushes back at rhubarb. I purchase it every chance I get and always give it my full attention.
My right as an adult, I guess.
This crumble is simple. Rhubarb is the star here. A few strawberries are cast as extras to help make it shine. Just enough sugar tempers its almost rudely sour assault. Rosemary and lemon - a stellar combination when it comes to rhubarb - give it a support and depth and make those an almost certainly adult dessert.
I suppose you could give some to kids if you want. But I wouldn't. Something for them to look forward to when they suddenly realize they're adults, too.
On a complete tangent, I want to bring a little personal something to note. My Blood & Chocolate Pudding post was nominated for Best Culinary Essay in Saveur's 2011 Best Food Blog Awards. I'm truly thankful for everyone who nominated me. You can vote here. However, I ask one thing when and if you do vote: I am honored to be grouped with an amazing bunch of writers, and so I encourage you to read every essay and then vote for your favorite. Give your vote to the best essay!
Rhubarb Crumble with Rosemary & Lemon
For the Crumble Topping
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and cut with a pastry cutter or two forks, or use your hands to pinch the butter with the other ingredients. Cut or pinch until the butter is all the size of small peas. Chill.
For the Filling
2 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped
1/3 cup strawberries, chopped
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1. Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl and let sit for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter a medium-sized baking dish and pour in the the rhubarb mixture. Level it out with a spoon. Spoon on top the crumble mixture and spread out evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until top has browned a bit and the juices bubbles up the sides. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Serve.