5 February 1999

Forced rhubarb wins a well earned place on gourmet menus

RHUBARB, so beloved of humble pie and crumble eaters, has gone upmarket and is set to become fashionable with foodies. But this is not your common or garden summer rhubarb. It is winter gourmet rhubarb, forced in darkened growing sheds in the traditional way by just a handful of producers.

Pink and tender, it is perfect gently poached with sugar and a few slices of fresh lemon and with 150 varieties with names including Champagnes Early, it is a dish to please even the champagne set.

However, the NFU feels this early crop is a delight for everyone to savour and to publicise it held the first ever Rhubarb Day last month and organised a recipe competition.

First prize of £500 was won by Miss Helen Williams, Denbighshire, Wales, for her rhubarb twist on shepherds pie. Among the entries was this recipe for a sassy salsa to accompany pork.

Rhubarb Salsa

250g (8oz) Winter Gourmet rhubarb

50ml (2fl oz) white wine

2 rounded dessertspoons redcurrant jelly

2 heaped dessertspoons creme fraiche

1 teaspoon sugar

Pinch of salt

Pepper

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon ground

nutmeg

To make the salsa, wash the rhubarb and cut into small pieces.

Place in a saucepan with the wine and cook until tender. Cool, then puree using a food processor or fine sieve. Gently melt the redcurrant jelly in a saucepan, add the puree, creme fraiche and the rest of the ingredients. Mix well, taste and if necessary adjust the seasoning.

Farm Womens Club

BERKSHIRE

Wed, Feb 10, 2.30pm. Meet at Brimpton village hall for talk on The House of Dior. Contact Hilda Gore (01488-685348).

BERWICKSHIRE/N.NORTHUMBERLAND

Wed, Feb 10, 7.30pm. Meet at Jean Whitefords home, Red House, Scremerston for talk Modern Telephone Systems by British Telecom. Contact Jean (01289-308289).

DERBYSHIRE

Tue, Feb 16, 1pm. Meet at Brackensfield village hall, bring a plate lunch. Mr Chris Jackson will speak. Contact Edna Easom (01773-833291).

DEVON

Tue, Feb 16, 12.15pm. Meet at Broadclyst Victory Hall for contribution buffet lunch, bring plates and cutlery. Slides with talk Along the Exe by Alex Worth. Names by Feb 14 to Margaret Burrough (01404-822257) or Marion Turner (01404-812077).

DEVON EVENING

Thur, Feb 11, 7.30pm. Meet at Upcott Farm, Nomansland for Poetry and Prose Reading (keep it short!) Contact Carole Drake (01884-860892).

KENT

Wed, Feb 17, 12 noon. Visit to Maidstone Fire Station preceded by pub lunch. For details of where to meet contact Ann Neath (01634-861176).

NORFOLK-NORTH

Tue, Feb 9, 10.30am. Meet at Lisa Catlings home, Beeches Farm, Swafield, North Walsham for recipe swap. Contact Lisa (01692-500093).

NORTHANTS

Tue, Feb 23,11am. Meet at Earls Barton Bowling Club for demonstration of Party Canapes by Sue Lonsdale. Lunch and raffle, names by 15 Feb to Rita (01604-810351).

N.WALES-MERIONETH

Mon, Feb 8, 7 for 7.30pm. Meet at Fronoleu Farm Hotel, Dolgellau for talk on Aloe Vera by Mrs Jean Jones. Contact Rona (01678-540643).

SCOTTISH BORDERS

Wed, Feb 10, 12 noon. Meet at Buccleugh Hotel, St Boswells for lunch followed by craft demonstration by Mrs Mabel Preston. Contact Netta Harvey (01890-850227).

SOMERSET-YEOVIL

Mon, Feb 15, 10 for 10.30am. Meet at Horsepond Inn, Castle Cary for a talk by Mr C Puzey from the Brainwave Centre, Bridgwater followed by lunch at 12.30pm. Names by Feb 12 to Sylvia Reed (01963-350431).

SOMERSET-MENDIP

Thur, Feb 18, 12 for 12.30pm. Meet at Market Centre, Standerwick, Frome for lunch followed by talk Year Round Colour in Your Garden by Duncan Travers. Contact Muriel Cary (01373-463078).

Mon, Feb 22, 7 for 7.30pm. Meet at the New Inn, Priddy for skittles. Contact Sheila Batten (01373-834293).

SOMERSET-TAUNTON

Wed, Feb 17, 2.30pm. Meet at Comeytrowe Community Hall, Taunton for talk by Mr Viv Verrier the parks and amenity officer for Taunton Deane. Tea to follow. Contact Valerie Read (01823-284546).

STAFFORDSHIRE

Tue, Feb 16, 12 noon. Meet at Eaton Lodge for lunch, £6. Contact Betty Lea (01785-282304).

WILTS AND GLOS

Mon, Feb 15, 11.30 for 12 noon. Meet for lunch at Thames Head Inn, Cirencester. Cheque to be presented to Marie Curie Cancer Care. Names and menu choice to Edna Clark (01285-841205) by Feb 12.

WORCESTERSHIRE

Wed, Feb 17. Trip to London for shopping/theatre. Contact Ann Swift (01386-446036).

YORKSHIRE-YORK

Tue, Feb 16, 12 for 12.30pm. Meet at Dunnington Reading Room for a plate lunch followed by talk Dont Just Sit There by Pat Smith. Contact Pam Frankland (01904-489221) or Sandra Frankland (01904-488102)

Happy to be young at heart

IT was Grace Curtis 54th wedding anniversary the day of the Northampton-shire FWC agm.

She and her friend Rita White, who work together at Graces poultry farm, had arranged for retiring contact leader, Irene Norman, to be presented with a crystal vase. I turned up with flowers for it to complete the surprise.

Octogenarian Irene can teach us all a thing or two about how to stay young at heart. She keeps herself busy, is full of fun and still has an eye for the young men, although tells me that she and husband, Doug, celebrate their diamond wedding next year. She is never happier than when giving her time to others, especially a local home for the mentally handicapped which she visits and helps with fundraising..

Like all of us Irene occasionally forgets what she was saying, then she just says: "Excuse me, I am having a senior moment." Long may she continue to give joy and laughter to others.

Jean Howells