RHUBARB COCONUT CRUMBLE BARS

Rhubarb is a perennial that can keep coming up each Spring for up to 20 years.  But, these are stalks from the same plant I gathered from when I was little - still abundantly providing over 30 years later! My mom so carefully wrapped them with water to keep them fresh on the drive home.  


If you've never had rhubarb, it is slightly sweet and tart at the same time, perfect for pies, bars, and jams.  So, you would think it's a fruit, but it's actually a vegetable!  You can also pair it with more savory foods, but I baked it up into a typical crumble and it turned out oh so good!  

 

Total time: 1 hour (15 minutes prep / 45 minutes baking)
Serves: 24

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups fresh rhubarb, diced (approx. 6 stalks)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Directions:
1) In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour and the confectioners sugar.  Cut in butter until crumbly.  Pat into a lightly greased 9X13 inch baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
2) In a large bowl, combine sugar and remaining flour.  Add eggs.  Stir in the rhubarb, walnuts, and coconut.  Pour over Crust.  Bake 30-35 minutes longer or until set.  Cool on a wire rack.  Cut into bars.

The above recipe was adapted from Taste of Home's rhubarb dream bars.  I cut the sugar down by a 1/2 cup and they were still plenty sweet so next time I would trim it down even more!  It also called for sweetened shredded coconut, but definitely go for unsweetened.  There is absolutely no reason for all that extra sugar and junk ingredients.  Bob's Red Mill unsweetened shredded coconut is literally just "natural unsulfured coconut," nothing else.  Whereas other brands that make sweetened coconut have a ton more sugar to start with, typically are sulphured, and have preservatives and chemicals to maintain freshness.  Wondering what the difference is between sulfured and unsulfured?  Sulfur dioxide is added as a preservative and to stop fruit from turning brown.  Most information you'll find will say sulfur is fine to consume, but since the World Heath Organization has set the daily acceptable intake for a 2 year old to half a dried apricot, I am staying away!  And, even if you don't believe that sulfur dioxide causes any health issues, isn't it always best to opt for food as close to its natural state as possible?  Especially when there is a natural option so readily available.

Let me know if you decide to grow your own rhubarb, or make a sweet treat with this fun vegetable!

FRESH CUT FLOWER TIPS

herpericum bunch from Floral Park Market in Atlanta, GA with fresh cut flower care tips

While visiting Floral Park Market in Atlanta, the deep reds and glossy berries of Hypericum felt like the perfect Fall arrangement so I picked up a bunch. Hypericum is commonly referred to as St. John's Wort and is widely used as a herbal remedy for depression.  St. John's Wort is available year round, but peaks in the Fall. If you're confused how St. John's Wort is the same as Hypericum, the plant blooms with yellow flowers and when the petals fall they leave berries that come in a wide range of colors depending on the variety!

Having been a leader in the Atlanta floral business for so many years, I asked James Olsen, owner of Floral Park Market, for some basic floral care tips that anyone can use and he so graciously shared!

herpericum bunch closeup from Floral Park Market in Atlanta, GA with fresh cut flower care tips

PUTTING YOUR FRESH CUTS IN WATER IMMEDIATELY IS IMPERATIVE. 

If you get sidetracked with an errand or some other project, the stems will start to close up.  Regarding the actual water to use for fresh cuts, we've all heard that the specific temperature is important and even using bottled or filtered water. Hydrangeas and tulips, for example, James shares have been said to not like hot water. But, he sticks to room temp for all and has never had a problem. He also states that tap water is absolutely fine.

BEFORE PLACING YOUR BLOOMS IN THE WATER, CUT EACH STEM AT AN ANGLE.

If the stems are cut flat, the ends will align with the bottom of the vase and it won't allow any water to be sucked up. My biggest concern has always been where on the stem to cut - above or below a nub??! James urges not to worry about this because technically you're always above or below a nub since there's always a nub above and below where you're cutting. Makes sense!

If you don't have any flower food on hand, James recommends substituting a capful of bleach in the water.

THE BEST TRICK JAMES SHARED IS IF YOUR FLOWERS START TO WILT, YOU CAN PLACE THEM FACE DOWN IN WATER FOR AN HOUR OR SO AND IT WILL PERK THEM UP!  

This does affect their long term viability, though, so do this just if you need them to regain some life for a party or event.

I love picking up fresh cuts every week or two, they instantly brighten my mood as soon as I see them! In particular, I tend to put a vase on the bathroom counter for something beautiful to start my day. I  highly recommend stopping into Floral Park Market for some fresh cuts.  James advises to call prior to check availability if you are needing something specific since what he offers fluctuates based on the events he is supplying. If you're like me and always up for a surprise in what type of flower comes home with you, you should be fine!
herpericum bunch in mason jar from Floral Park Market in Atlanta, GA with fresh cut flower care tips

One thing I did notice about Hypericum was the amount of water they drink!! Sierra Flower Finder confirmed this and recommends checking the water level daily. They also say "the woody stems of Hypericum tend to rapidly cloud the water even with a floral preservative solution", so they recommend re-cutting the stems and changing the water every 2 days. This would certainly also extend the longevity of the berries.

Lastly, let's talk about my floral arranging skills...or lack thereof!  😂 Having grown up in an artistic home and attending art school, I have an "eye" and basic understanding of principles of design, however, floral arranging escapes my abilities - I just don't know where to start! One of the next adventures I'd liked to partake in is to take a floral arranging class. I researched some of the options in the Atlanta area...

1) Atlanta School of Floral Design at Peachtree Flowers offers beginner, progressive, and wedding classes.  
2) Faith Flowers teaches flower and gardening classes including wedding and party flowers, beginning flower arranging, hand tied bouquets, grocery store flowers, and many more.  
3) I was introduced to Amanda Jewel Floral + Design when she offered a class at the Anthropologie I work at. She typically partners with retailers to offer a range of classes.
4) And for some mad skills, Halls Atlanta offers an intensive 36 hour course of study covering floral design from planning and purchasing to high style design.  

DO YOU HAVE ANY TRIED AND TRUE FLOWER CARE OR ARRANGING TIPS?