Rhubarb season and strawberry season are around the same time, I believe, because of pie.
"One for you, one for me, and one for pie," my 6-year-old said, handing her little sister a strawberry.
I already had noticed the count was low and suspected my workers of fixing the books.
Rhubarb season and strawberry season are around the same time, I believe, because of pie. It's an evolutionary thing. Over millions of years, rhubarb adapted to show up at the club at the same time as strawberry, following its entourage inside. Rhubarb, a tart-tasting cross between celery and Swiss chard, isn't getting in otherwise. But the tartness of one and the sweetness of the other are perfect together.
"Eww," my 3-year-old exclaimed when I pointed to the rhubarb on the counter.
"What is that?" my 6-year-old asked, squishing her face.
"It's the rhubarb for the strawberry-rhubarb pie," I said. She admitted that earlier when she heard "pie" she forgot the other words.
We carefully cut the rhubarb, measured it and added it to the bowl. Surprisingly, none of it went missing. That wasn't the case with the strawberries.
"How is it that we don't have two cups yet? I feel like I've cut up about four cups of strawberries," I said in a tone that demanded confession.
"Maybe you need to clean your glasses," my 6-year-old replied. We locked eyes and held back laughter. The first to crack would lose.
My 3-year-old broke the tension.
"We are eating them," she said innocently. Then she put a sticky hand on my shoulder and added, "but we are sharing."
While acknowledging the importance of sharing, I told them they couldn't put their hands in their mouths and then into the food we were cooking. My daughter explained one hand was for "sorting" strawberries and the other was for making pie. I told them to wash their hands anyway.
My wife and I have cooked with our girls enough they know not to touch things like a hot stove or a sharp knife. Really, we have only one standing rule: Wash your hands.
Second rule of cooking club: Wash your hands again.
We were at a crucial moment in the cooking process that demanded clean hands. The ingredients just needed to be mixed. While a spatula or spoon might be the tool of choice, in this instance, it was our hands. Without a guarantee of a mess, it's hard to hold their attention long enough to make a full recipe. The messes are the best part and my fondest memories of cooking with my mom.
When they returned with clean hands, I let them dig in. Then we dumped the mixture into the pie crust. They looked up from the empty bowl with its remnants of strawberry juice and sugar, and pleaded to taste it. I nodded.
"And we will be sure to wash our hands right after," my oldest added as my little one licked juice off her arm.
"Well, we might need to hose you off in the backyard," I replied.
Reach Dave at david.manley@Cantonrep.com
On Twitter: @DaveManley