Just as the first really hot days hit the Valley, so winds down the rhubarb. It sends up tall white flowers that quickly turn into brown seed pods. Meanwhile, the main season strawberries are just about hitting full peak. That little window in early to mid June is the Strawberry Rhubarb Season. Strawberries make rhubarb less puckery, rhubarb makes strawberry more intense, and the whole combination is rich and complex and just plain cussing delicious.
My mom and I just polished off an entire amazing quart in the time it took to drive from the stand into town. I have heard that strawberries naturally whiten teeth, but mine were pretty red. I wouldn't recommend using them as rouge or lipstick either, although my skin does have a refreshed and invigorated feeling.
Well, the word around here is that next week, folks picking strawberries will be making more per hour than I ever hope to. For many kids around here, picking strawberries is a lucrative first job. I did it, too. For one morning. My entire picking career netted me $15, which I don't even remember collecting. Strawberry picking involves bending down and picking fast. It's a buggy, sweaty, back-breaking kind of job, the kind I don't much go for.
I'll be in the kitchen making this Strawberry Rhubarb Crunch Cheesecake.
Strawberry Rhubarb Crunch Cheesecake Serves up to 12
3/4 C. flour
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. oats
3/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/3 C. butter
Using your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until well combined. Reserve 1 cup crumbs in a separate bowl. Press remaining into a 9 or 10 inch springform pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
Pretty Pink Filling:
4 C. Rhubarb, sliced
1 1/2 C. Strawberries, sliced
3/4 C. sugar
Bring to a boil in a wide pan and cook until juices have evaporated and mixture is the consistency of chunky jam.
1 lb. cream cheese
1 C. sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla
2 C. sour cream
1 T. cornstarch
Combine in a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour over crust into pan. Place rhubarb filling by spoonfuls on top. Sprinkle reserved crumbs over. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 350, until center barely jiggles when pan is gently shaken. Cool and then refrigerate overnight.