Eating like a vegan before dinner makes me more mindful of my relationship with food, the people who grow my food, the seasons, and my hunger. That mindfulness is supposed to carry over to dinner. But I am full-out head-on into grilling season, and even Mark Bittman understands that a plate of ribs occasionally trumps vegetable kebabs. Each piece of burning charcoal replaces mindfulness with guilt: charcoal releases twice the carbon of a gas grill. We'll switch to greener solutions soon. Meanwhile I sooth my guilt by buying direct from our favorite farmers and by using seasonal vegetables in every way I can imagine.
At Called to the Table today is a recipe for a versatile and delicious Rhubarb Ginger Starter Sauce. I like it on Bittman's Walnut Banana Bread, stirred into salsa, and converted into BBQ sauce that is judiciously brushed over dry-rubbed and slow-roasted ribs.
3 cups rhubarb
¼ cup pickled ginger (Japanese sushi style)
½ cup dried cranberries or raisins
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
Combine all ingredients in medium-sized saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add 1 to 2 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce and 1 tablespoon butter. Simmer 5 minutes or until flavors are well blended. For homemade sauce add 1/2 cup brown sugar or maple syrup, 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup good spicy mustard, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon salt. Finish with butter.