The best laid plans of rhubarb & jam.

This whole thing started when I encountered this recipe on Pinterest (you might laugh and say “I COULDA TOLD YOU IT WOULDN’T WORK” but I’ve had nothing but great experiences with both recipes and crafts I found there. Seriously. I have no complaints). It seemed awesome, and I decided that it was a pretty perfect dessert for Mother’s Day. My mother enjoys unique or different things (I made her rosewater-vanilla cupcakes one year) and I like coming up with new things, which (usually) makes it a match made in heaven. I figured maybe I’d do something different, like use that rhubarb curd to fill pavlovas. Pavlovas, in case you aren’t aware, are basically meringue cookies made into a large bowl-ish shape, and usually filled with fresh fruit, fruit curd or sauce.

Sounds great, right?

I thought so.

Food Network magazine, May 2013: all about rhubarb!

Rhubarb can be quite elusive. Despite having an entire feature in this month’s Food Network magazine it’s still not exactly one of those fruits or vegetables that’s easily found, like strawberries or broccoli. Like I said last year, it’s on the rare side, and even if you find a place that has it, it seemingly doesn’t last long. Probably because most stores don’t order large quantities of it. If you’re lucky enough to have a farmer’s market around, you might fare better… but not always. It seems those pesky food bloggers or “foodies” always get there first & get the good stuff. With rhubarb, that’s usually the issue. Either the store doesn’t order it so they don’t carry it, or they did but they ordered limited quantities & all the other food bloggers (or food blog readers) jumped on them first. Of course, life is great if you grow it yourself… but I do not.

So I bought my rhubarb (after hunting it down), got my eggs, I had my vanilla beans. And all was right with the world.

Rhubarb stalks

But then disaster struck.

I have no idea what happened, but my curd just didn’t work. It wasn’t only a terrible color (and it really was) but it wasn’t so much curd as a loose, weird custard thing. Not even a custard- it was a mess. It was bad. Or at least, it looked bad. So bad I didn’t want to even attempt tasting it. I tossed it in the garbage, thankful that I hadn’t used up ALL the rhubarb I bought on it, so it wasn’t a total waste. But still. Talk about a shitty experience… and it has nothing to do with the original recipe, I’m sure. It’s probably user error. Maybe I screwed something up somewhere along the way and I’m just not seeing it. It happens. Who knows.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t infuriating, but it happens. (SIDE NOTE: I told you blogging was hard!)

I ended up using the rhubarb stalks I had left to make a quick rhubarb jam. Yes, I could have tried the curd again. But then if it had failed I’d have been left with no rhubarb, no eggs, and TWO massive failures to ruin my week. Plus, of course, by this point I was in a state of total “I don’t really care”-ness. I was so pissed off that my plans of beautiful, fluffy meringue filled with smooth, pink delicious rhubarb-vanilla bean curd for Mother’s Day were ruined that I think I pulled a muscle in my arm stirring the jam so violently. Of course I realize this isn’t the end of the world. It’s just disappointing. I’m sharing it with you (instead of posting another recipe & pretending it didn’t happen) because I want you to understand that, too. I’ve written before (most recently around Easter, in depth) that I sometimes think I’m part of a culture that promotes perfection when it comes to food- or at least aesthetic perfection. And I hate that for one reason: when things like this happen, people might give up. Or think, “Well shit, if she did it & I can’t then forget it.” I hate the idea that that could be a possibility. I hate to think anyone would give up on anything because of one failure.. or even 100 failures.

Because honestly, sometimes shit just doesn’t work, and we’ve gotta accept that. And if that means having a box of cake mix stored away for emergencies, than so be it. But it doesn’t mean any of us are any less awesome! Not everything is perfect, and not everything has to be. So you make a mistake, big deal.

Oh… and yes, my mother will have a special dessert come Sunday. Just not a rhubarb-y one. Happy Mother’s Day.


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