Monday, October 10, 2011

Easier-than-Pie Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

Crust is not a must with this slothful yet sublime compote.
Without crust, this ‘pote’s a piece of cake. It's so easy, a monkey could make it. Not to diss primates or anything. But if you're not in the mood to be all upright, simply slouch over the stove for a few minutes with some vibrant red fruit.

Sure, I enjoy a good strawberry-rhubarb galette or strawberry and rhubarb crumble as much as the next strawbarb enthusiast. But sometimes a girl has more important things to do than slave over a floured rolling pin. A few things come to mind: A) napping, B) filing her nails, C) lounging poolside with a Harlequin romance and D) doing online research into the nefarious things that big agro is doing to our food supply. Guess which one I was doing while my crust was left in the dust. If you narrowed it down to A) and D), apparently you've B) seen my nails and C) know about my distrust of UV rays and Marlboro men.

Meanwhile, after my nap I discovered a startling development about strawberries that I wish was as fictional as a mustachioed man-hunk on a horse. Not only do conventionally grown strawberries contain some of the most pesticides of any fruit or vegetable, a really toxic one called methyl iodide has just been introduced in California, which grows most of the strawberries in the U.S. This toxin is extremely harmful to farmworkers and anyone who lives in the vicinity of these farms (see my breakdown below). So it’s best to either buy organic strawberries or make sure your farmer doesn’t use any sprays—for everyone's sake. I know that's not as sexy a scenario as a beefcake on a bronco or studmuffin in a Stetson. But when you've got fresh, supple, organic strawberries glistening provocatively in the buff, who needs subpar literature or pie crust? Do I know juicy or what?


6 stalks rhubarb, cut in ½ inch slices (between 1 ¼ - 1 ½ lb)

1 heaping pint organic stawberries, quartered (can use a little more)

¾ cup water

1/3 cup organic sugar

½ tsp vanilla

Makes about 12 toppings or 6 – 8 solo servings.

In a 3-quart sauce pan, boil water, sugar, vanilla and rhubarb until rhubarb is almost tender, about 7 - 12 minutes. Then add strawberries and cook about 5 more minutes until done. Eat warm or cold on ice cream, yogurt, cake, toast, pancakes, waffles or just a big ol' honkin' bowl of it plain.

Lentil’s Breakdown

• According to EWG’s 2011 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, strawberries are #3 on the dirty list, and some strawberries had as many as 13 different pesticides.

• Methyl iodide is known to cause miscarriages, thyroid dysfunction, cancer, and is so reliably carcinogenic that it's used to create cancer cells in laboratories. It also contaminates groundwater.

• Since it’s applied to soil before plants go into the ground, methyl iodide poses little risk to strawberry consumers, but it’s extremely hazardous to farmworkers who apply it and the people who live near the fields because it can drift off site through the air.

• More than 50 scientists and doctors, including five Nobel laureates in chemistry, warned the EPA about the dangers of methyl iodide, but California officials manipulated the safety data, and it was approved anyway.

• Methyl iodide has been banned in the states of Washington and New York, but its status in California now lies in the hands of Gov. Jerry Brown. In March, he vowed to take a fresh look at the decision to approve it but has yet to take action. Please sign this petition and leave a message on Gov. Jerry Brown’s Facebook wall.


Mother Jones: Methyl Iodide: A Nasty Pesticide Explained

Huffington Post: Methyl Iodide Controversy: Warning about Strawberry Field Chemical Ignored

Californians for Pesticide Reform: Methyl Iodide Background Exposed: California officials manipulated safety data on methyl iodide, ignored scientist warnings against approving deadly strawberry chemical

Mother Jones: California Defied Own Scientists with Pesticide Approval

Related Links:

Strawberry-Rhubarb Galette

Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble

Ode to a Farmworker


  1. As always a great opening line. Keep up the great writing. The recipe's pretty good as well.

  2. These are the first words that popped of the page in this whole red post: "beefcake on a bronco or studmuffin in a Stetson". Yum. And I mean the compote of course. GREG

  3. AnonymouSoul Brother:

    What you sayin, sistah? Nefarious Big thang be givin you agro? What the governor goin do bout that? Chill out and eat you strawberries.

    English translation:

    “As a successful Democratic politician, Governor Brown understands that it is sound policy to cruelly disappoint on matters of urgent concern to those in his constituency who have nowhere else to go, such as union organizers and environmentalists.“

  4. I think I want this with whipped cream and a candied ginger shortcake. And I totally agree about the napping part.

  5. wow - i didn't know a lot of this. i like your fun facts at the end. and i have never ever cooked with rhubarb. never even purchased it. rhubarb has never seen my home, so now i am inspired.

  6. That's horrifying news about strawberries but oh such a lovely compote..

  7. Signed! Good grief, I hope my farmer doesn't use methyl iodine.

  8. Good info about stawberries. I was pretty familiar with some of those scary facts.

    My mom used to make a strawberry rhubarb jam/jelly. But, as I remember it, it had loads of sugar. I like the compote idea - but I'm afraid we're done with the warm gardening season here in Colorado. Today we got dumped on.

  9. Strawberry rhubarb pie is our family favorite from the farm days of long ago - I love the crustless advantage here, such a little jewel - thank you!