Those robins are following me around because I’ve been watering the gardens. And wow a near miss of poop AGAIN! Okay so I was thinking…I have rhubarb, I have birds, I like food….
Bazinga! I’m going to make a birdbath out of a rhubarb leaf this summer when it gets big enough.
So many garden crafts and birdbath-projects are made out of leaves, and a birdbath made from a rhubarb leaf is such a popular item.
It doesn’t have to be huge either. Crafty gardeners make mini-birdbaths that are set in small garden spaces, or hang nicely from the limbs of small trees or posts. A well made “birdbath” can serve as a cute bird-feeder for seed as well.
This recipe is extremely easy to follow, and certainly doesn’t demand any materials out of the ordinary.
You mainly have to decide in the beginning about the shape, and whether or not you would like it to hang from somewhere in your yard. Other than that, you are on your way.
You will need the following Materials:
Medium to large rhubarb leaves
1 bag of sandbox sand
Heavy gauge wire
A shallow pan or pail
Decide on the size of leaf you would like to use. Make sure it is not ripped or torn, or pieces missing. It should be a nicely shaped leaf that is all in one piece.
Add a little water to your sand, and mix it up until a bit moistened. Find an area on the property where your project won’t be in the way or disturbed.
Construct a pile of this moistened sand in the shape you would like. For this rhubarb-leaf-birdbath, your should have your sand piled and shaped like an upside-down flower pot.
Cover over your sand with the saran wrap. You don’t want the sand sticking to the cement.
Form the leaf over the plastic being careful not to rip or tear it. The “good” side of the leaf should be facing downwards.
Form an inch or so of sand up around the entire circle of sand all the way around the bottom to hold the leaf in place.
In your pail, mix the portland cement 2 to 1. 1 part cement to 2 parts sand. Add water to make it nice and spreadable.
Begin to cover the leaf with this mixture. Pretend you are icing a cake, and make sure to get the portland right down to the edges all the way around until it is at least 1/4 inch in thickness. It should be at least 2 inches thick in the centre of the mound.
Now is the time to think about the wire, if you intend to hang this anywhere. Place the wire in the cement now before it begins to dry. If this is going to hold birdseed and hang, loop the wire in the centre, and make sure the wire is covered well in cement.
Bring the edges of the saran up around the cement at the bottom, but don’t put it directly into the cement. Leave it and let dry for at least 4 days to approximately 1 week.
You can now pull the saran off, and the leaf should peel away nicely. BEAUTIFUL! Now put it in your garden!
Now with the actual rhubarb stalks…How about a tart?
Crust: 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 1/4 cup sugar 2 large egg yolks 2 tablespoons (or more) ice water 3 tablespoons apricot jam Filling: 1 cup sugar 1/3 cup water 3 3 x 1/2-inch strips lemon peel (yellow part only) 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half 2 pounds fresh rhubarb, trimmed, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick pieces (about 6 cups)
Mix flour and salt in processor. Add butter and cut in, using off/on turns, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add sugar and egg yolks and process briefly to blend. Add 2 tablespoons water and process just until moist clumps form. If dough is dry, add more water by teaspoonfuls to moisten. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until dough is firm enough to roll, about 30 minutes. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated. Let soften slightly at room temperature before rolling.)
Preheat oven to 350F. Roll out dough disk on floured surface 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Trim crust overhang to 1/4 inch. Fold overhang in, creating double-thick sides. Freeze tart crust 15 minutes.
Line crust with foil. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until sides are set, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Bake until crust is golden brown, piercing with fork if bubbles form, about 15 minutes. Brush crust with jam and bake until jam is set, about 5 minutes more. Transfer pan to rack and cool.
Combine sugar and water in heavy large skillet over low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add lemon peel and cinnamon stick. Increase heat and bring to boil. Add rhubarb and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover pan and simmer until rhubarb is just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Let stand covered until rhubarb is tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover and cool completely.
Using slotted spoon, remove rhubarb from cooking liquid and arrange in concentric circles in crust. Strain cooking liquid into heavy small saucepan. Boil liquid until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Cool syrup completely. Spoon syrup over rhubarb. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)
Laugh, learn and liven up your taste buds!