I recently got up to another cold morning. Looks like the cold snap’s still with us.
Fortunately, cold weather doesn’t hinder my paper delivery. I retrieve my paper and head downstairs, that is if I don’t decide to go back to bed. Before heading out to solve the world’s problems I put on a pot of coffee to perk and while it’s perking make a cup of cappuccino to drink while I go about solving the daily crossword and jumble.
After reading the paper and grappling the puzzles to a standstill, I again check the temperature.
By now it’s getting light and the birds are congregated, shivering on and beside the feeder. The world’s problems will have to wait, as my birds come first. I dress warmly go out and refill the feeder and shovel off the sidewalk so the postman can deliver the usual consignment of flyers.
Decision time. Is it too cold to go skiing at Birds Hill Park?
Most of my skiing pals won’t go out once it hits -20. It’s well below that this morning but I’m going out anyhow. Once on the trails, out of the wind, it’s quite comfortable and I’ve never been uncomfortably cold in all the years I’ve been skiing. The biggest problem is that during a cold snap on weekdays I usually find myself the only skier in the park. Realizing the consequences of what could happen if I had an accident I try to ski safely.
Before heading out for the ski trails I fortify myself with my secret weapon. Rye toast with peanut butter, coffee and a dish of a slurry of dry fruit and rhubarb.
I call it "slubarb," which I made this past summer. Most people have patches of rhubarb in their gardens, which often goes to waste — but not mine. When the stalks are well filled-out and red and juicy I cut a batch and cook it along with an assortment of dry fruit — usually prunes, apricots, and whatever else I can find on sale. Dry apples fit in nicely but are often unavailable.
I cook it in a ratio of two parts rhubarb to one part assorted dry fruit. In this year’s batch I also have dried cranberries and figs. The cranberries give it a nice tang and the figs provide sweetness as I don’t use sugar. This year I put up a dozen quart-size jars.
During the cold winter months, it gives me a comfortable feeling. Looking at those full jars in my pantry. They help run the engine that propels me over the frosty grandeur of the ski trails.
I’ve never looked at the nutritional value or other healthful benefits of slubarb but no doubt they’re considerable.
If you have a rhubarb patch, try it. And you don’t have to be a skier to enjoy the benefits of slubarb. It works equally well for snow shovelling and other mundane household activities.
Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org