We all know that the food we eat should be nutritious, clean, tasty, properly prepared and safely stored. But we often don’t consider the importance of two key factors: our senses of smell and sight. For me, the sense of smell is the most powerful.
I’m sure you have walked into a room and some scent has brought back a flood of memories and experiences. Those memories take so many forms and come from so many pasts: the sawdust on the floor and the aromas of garlic and basil at the Blue Parrot Italian restaurant near Boulder, Colo.; the smell of the bay on the way to San Francisco as a child; the wonderful mix of sea air and salmon sizzling in the galley on one of the Alaska State Ferries.
When we walk out of our house in the early morning, the fragrance of the bright-pink desert peach blossoms — now blooming all over the hills behind the ranch — brings memories of Santa Barbara and all its luxuriant foliage.
But since we can’t be tempted solely by smell, the color and contrasts of the food we eat often are what whet our appetites. I’ve said before that a monochromatic presentation — especially a white one with a white plate, white fish, white starch and a white vegetable — does not make me want to enjoy, or even sample, the meal. Instead, picture vibrant colors, contrasting textures and an enticing aroma, and you have a feast for all the senses.
Our recipe this week is a bed and breakfast favorite in the spring, a raspberry-rhubarb crisp. It is the most glorious shade of red that you could imagine. It is rhubarb season again — beautiful color, fabulous taste and it smells divine while it’s baking, so it satisfies all the senses at once.
RASPBERRY RHUBARB CRISP
This is an easy recipe that serves about eight. However, a hungry foursome can devour the whole thing. Serve with heavy cream, whipped cream, plain yogurt or vanilla ice cream. Or just plain. It’s good hot, warm or cold, but will only keep for about a day before the topping gets soggy.
Lightly grease a pretty 2-quart serving/baking dish. Set aside.
For the fruit, mix well, then pour into bake dish:
5 cups diced rhubarb
3 cups frozen raspberries (no need to thaw first)
1½ cups sugar (or more if rhubarb is very tart)
Grated zest of one orange
4 tablespoons of minute tapioca
For the topping: put into the bowl of a food processor, or mix well by hand:
Three-quarter-cup old fashioned oats (oatmeal, uncooked)
Half-cup brown sugar
Quarter-cup white sugar
Pulse the above, just to mix, and then add:
Quarter-cup (4 tablespoons) butter, cut into tiny pieces
Pulse until butter is incorporated. Distribute topping evenly over fruit, and bake at 375 degrees about 35-40 minutes, or until topping is brown and fruit is bubbling. It’s not a bad idea to put something under the baking dish to catch any drips. Serve hot, warm or cold.
David and Muffy Vhay own Deer Run Ranch Bed and Breakfast. Contact the ranch at 775-882-3643.