16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Wednesday, May 24, 1911: One of these days I’m going to do something of some importance. I’m getting rather tired of the same old duties, the same old ways, and the same old troubles.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Whew, the same old duties, the same old ways, and the same old troubles. I wonder what Grandma was referring to. Sometimes I wish that she’d tell us more about what her daily duties were—and what she didn’t like about the “old ways”. But of course she couldn’t have known that we’d be reading her diary a hundred years later . . .
Since she didn’t tell us much about what happened, I’m going to try to guess what foods the family have might have been eating in late May.
They were probably enjoying fresh greens, radishes, and other spring vegetables from their garden. They probably were also eating rhubarb. It used to be considered one of the spring tonic foods (dandelion was another) that helped restore people’s energy and health after a long winter without fresh foods.
When I was a child we often ate Stewed Rhubarb (Rhubarb Sauce) in May. We ate it as a side dish during the main meal. (We ate it warm at the first meal; left-overs were eaten chilled). I don’ t have a recipe for Stewed Rhubarb, and I haven’t made it in years—but yesterday I successfully made it from memory and it tasted just as I remembered. This is what I did:
Stewed Rhubarb (Rhubarb Sauce)
2 cups rhubarb (cut into 3/4 inch pieces)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix all of the ingredients together in a saucepan. Using medium heat, heat to boiling; reduce temperature and simmer until tender (about 5 minutes); stir occasionally. Remove from heat. Can be served either hot or chilled. 2-3 servings. Recipe can be easily doubled or tripled.
The amount of sugar can be adjusted to make the rhubarb tarter or sweeter.
My husband’s family also ate Stewed Rhubarb when he was a child—and he agrees that the recipe turned out perfectly. He took seconds—and we easily ate all of the rhubarb at one meal. (Next time I’ll make more). And, he suggested that we should have it again soon. It’s definitely an old-time food that we’ve enjoyed rediscovering.