Rhubarb Rose Water Crisp (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

 
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It’s a long weekend here in Canada, one that marks the unofficial start to summer. It’s a time when many head north to the cottage, celebrate with sparklers and fireworks, and light up little campfires. 40-plus years ago, my mom and her family built a cottage on a beautiful big property about 30 minutes north of Parry Sound, Ontario. For those of you that aren't familiar, cottaging is The Great Canadian Pastime and the cause for many-a-traffic-jam on the major highways heading north.  
 
I made a million and one memories at the cottage. I remember picking wild raspberries; spilling hot tea on my lap at the dock; learning to swim; learning to bake cake; learning to start a fire and whittle wood; catching and releasing frogs (and chipmunks -but that’s another story); getting stung by a swarm of bees near the treehouse with my brother; growing too big for the treehouse; being both unable to walk and sick to my stomach thanks to the fear that we were “all going to die!” during a tornado; watching the Wizard of Oz on VHS approximately one million times (maybe that's why I was so afraid of the tornado, now that I think about it...); walking into the glass door in the sunroom because my mom kept the glass too clean; and getting hit in the head with a giant rake (or maybe I hit the rake?) and bleeding profusely (I still have the bumpy scars atop my noggin). I also remember the smell of the cottage and the gasoline-y smell of the boathouse.   

I learned to operate a boat, canoe, and watched float planes land on the lake. I played Monopoly games that lasted for days, like a real gambler. I even learned to waterski, although I sucked, my brother and mom were the ones that reigned supreme over that sport. I played badminton and croquet with my siblings, and took afternoon naps in the hammock between two giant pines. 
 
The long weekend makes me think of the cottage, and all of the activities and food memories that go along with it. We often ate crisps for dessert at the cottage and at home during the summer from the rhubarb my mom grew in the garden. I didn’t grow this rhubarb myself, as I didn’t inherit my mom’s superior green thumb (I really hope to "grow" into it one day). However, those blossoms in the picture are from our crabapple tree (which is no thanks to me, but it hasn’t died, so I’m going to take credit for it). 

My neighbour was kind enough to give me permission to take the edibles from her garden while she and her husband travel for the next several weeks. After they left, I hopped between the hedges and took a little inventory. (I feel a bit like Peter Rabbit). My eyes popped out of my head when I saw the rhubarb plant. I’m pretty sure that when life gives you rhubarb, you make rhubarb crisp (or Izzy’s strawberry rhubarb popsicles!). So, in the spirit of Day family summer cottage-esque desserts, I present to you, rhubarb crisp! Throw in whatever fruit you have handy and feel free to bump up the sugar, but my taste testers (aka my family members) and I, try not to eat too much added sugar these days. 
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If you've never used rose water before, neither had I, but it's surprisingly not like eating a corsage. I would highly recommend trying it at least once. Bonus: it sounds gourmet.       

Here’s to great memories, the unofficial start of summer, and my neighbour's bountiful edible garden! 

Rhubarb Rose Water Crisp (Gluten-Free, Vegan) 

Serves 4-6 

Ingredients:

Filling:
2 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into small pieces
1 large mango or 1 large apple, peeled, cored, and diced (approximately 1 cup) 
½ cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp chia seeds (absorbs the juices) or quick-cooking tapioca
1 tsp rose water 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Topping:
1 cup gluten-free/wheat-free rolled oats
½ cup walnuts or other nut, chopped finely (for nut-free, add 1/2 cup extra oats)
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp maple syrup or agave
1 tbsp coconut sugar (optional)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp sea salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine all filling ingredients. Pour into a pie dish or 8x8 ceramic square dish, spreading out evenly; set aside. In a medium bowl, toss together all topping ingredients and evenly distribute over filling.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. Eat warm out of the oven or chill. Serve with thick coconut milk, this pouring cashew cream, or your favourite non-dairy ice cream. The topping will lose its crispiness after one or two days once refrigerated.

What are your favourite long-weekend memories or summertime desserts? Do you have a family recipe that you still make when the warm weather hits?  

 

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