Harakiri Rhubarb And The Case Of The Lost Band-Aid

Pretty much everyone has heard of the Japanese method of suicide called harakiri. Lots of Americans mangle the word by pronouncing it “hairy-carry” but they mean the same thing. If you look it up on the interwebs (or something weird called a dictionary) you’ll find that it’s a pretty gruesome method of taking one’s life. And no, I’m certainly NOT suggesting anyone use suicide for problem solving!! But believe it or don’t, harakiri actually is relevant to this week’s silly blog entry.

You’d think harvesting in the garden would be a relatively safe activity. It should be, right? Picking vegetables, gently placing them in a nice woven basket, then toting them inside for delicious eating. No worries, right? Well yes, that’s true unless you have a very sharp knife in your hand. Rather important to be careful with sharp things.

But sometimes I get a bit carried away.

All I wanted to do was harvest some rhubarb… or “ROO-bob” as Grandma used to call it. Spring is definitely springing here in Beautiful West Michigan, so I thought I’d make a rhubarb-raisin pie today for when our friends came over for dinner. One might ask, “Rhubarb-raisin pie?? What the heck??” But yes boys and girls, I take the basic rhubarb pie recipe from our 50 year old Better Homes And Gardens cookbook and tweak it slightly. The recipe calls for 1 2/3 cup of sugar. I use 1 cup of dark brown sugar. I also add a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon for a little extra flavor, and yes I line the bottom of the pie with about a half cup of raisins, then put some more raisins on the top. It’s pretty darn good in my professional opinion!

I get the rhubarb from the garden, which is already producing nicely. Out I went to harvest some stalks, armed with my Swiss army knife and a plastic bag from Dollar General. My method of harvest is pretty simple: twist the stalk so it breaks away from the bottom of the plant, then use a knife to whack the leaf off the top. Then into the bag goes the stalk, and repeat until you have enough to make pie.

As I was working today, I was reminiscing about the time the in-laws were visiting from Florida a few years back. They were hankering for some rhubarb, so armed with my chef’s knife and plastic bag, I hustled out to make a quick harvest. Unfortunately, I was a bit careless with the knife and made a pretty good gash on my left wrist. Knowing the gash needed stitches, I asked my Beautiful Girlfriend to drive me to the ER. After asking her to please not go 90 MPH anymore on the way, we got the wound taken care of at the hospital so I could go back and finish the harvest (yes, I did harvest a bit more). Toward the end of the seven stitches, the nurse jokingly told me, “We do have a social worker on staff if you need one.” I assured her I wasn’t going to commit harakiri and we both laughed as I went on my way.

As I mentioned earlier, today’s weapon was my Swiss army knife. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson, but noooo… I was careless yet again, but this time much less damage was inflicted. A little cut on my finger… but it was bleeding enough to merit a Band-Aid. No big deal… although I silently yelled at myself for the goof.

OK. Time to make dinner. Spaghetti with meat balls from Mac’s Meats in Rothbury. Newman’s Own Sockarooni sauce with added mushrooms, peppers, and onions. Homemade garlic butter (with homegrown garlic) for the French bread. And of course the rhubarb-raisin pie. Somewhere along the line, the Band-Aid was lost. I looked high and low but could not find it. Then a horrible thought crossed my mind and I blurted out, “I hope it’s not in the food!!” I stirred the sauce and stirred some more. No Band-Aid in sight. Is it in the rhubarb that was mixed in with the flour and sugar?? Not that I could see. “Oh poop!!” I grunted and moved on to the rest of the cooking.

Our friends arrived, and after the hugs and hellos I told them I had an announcement. “I lost a Band-Aid,” I told them. “Unfortunately, I lost it while I was cooking,” I continued. Then I dropped the bomb: “I don’t think it’s in the pie, but it might be! I don’t think it’s in the sauce, but it might be!!” They all laughed and showed no concern. Everything came out great, our friends and we were all stuffed with delicious food and dessert. At the end of the meal, my friend Dick said, “Hey Ken!! No Band-Aid!!” I sighed with relief and said, “Yes!! Thank God!!!

The moral of the story? Maybe something like this: if you’re gonna attempt harakiri with rhubarb, make REALLY SURE you know where the Band-Aid is!!

And now, as Mr. Cleese used to say, for something completely different.