Rhubarb and Glass Flowers

The heat, at least on the East Coast, has finally broken and it was like getting hit on the head with a hammer…it felt so good when it stopped! Saturday, all we wanted to do was get outside. We threw open all the windows, turned off the air conditioners and headed for the greenmarket at Grand Army Plaza where it looked like most everyone else had the same idea. Along with some peaches the size of baby heads, I was surprised to find beautiful rhubarb! I know now I should have bought more, but I took two pounds of it, imagining my Great Aunt Stella’s rhubarb compote that she would pour over ice cream.

That’s what I made with it, along with a nice strawberry-rhubarb-orange pie. Just chopped up a pound of the red stalks (that my local grocer asked whether it was "red celery"…which should tell you something about my local grocery options) and added some candied ginger, the chopped up rinds of one orange and a little orange juice and some lemon juice and simmered it until the rhubarb just gave up and collapsed into this rosy red puree. Cool it off and find some vanilla ice cream and it’s summer in a bowl.

Speaking of bowls, we picked up our friend, Dr. Ron, his two toddler children, and headed up to the New York Botanical Garden to check out the Dale Chihuly show installed there. What a delight!

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I live two blocks from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (note: which is called "Botanic" and the other is called "Botanical"…not sure if there is a difference or someone is just splitting hairs on us there) so I am sort of spoiled when it comes to gardens and botanic(al) ones, in particular. I couldn’t believe, first of all, how much bigger the NY Botanic Garden is. It must be twice the size of the Brooklyn one. Of course, the Brooklyn Botanic has the Brooklyn Museum sitting right in the middle of it, and directly across Flatbush which transects it on the north side, is Olmstead’s own favorite jewel, Prospect Park. So it’s all a matter of perspective, really. But the NY Botanical garden is a treat to behold. Blue_4

A tad more expensive, too, but I suppose if I was a member, like we are in Brooklyn, I wouldn’t have noticed. Entry fee was $6 for adults, but $20 a head to see the Chihuly, which, in retrospect, I don’t really understand since you could probably have just paid the $6 and still seen all the Chihuly’s as they are placed all through the park in the most public of places, as well as in the divine Enid Haupt Conservatory. Pink_chihuly_2

Nonetheless, the glass show is, after a while, an "Alice in Glass Wonderland" experience. We walked to the Rockefeller Rose Garden with a forest of blue glass balls and spires, and on to the immense greenhouses, with exquisite, floral bowls.

Then, five-year-old and three-year-old in tow, we went back through the old forest woods where we stopped to demonstrate the helicopter-esque aerodynamic properties of maple tree seeds by tossing them off the eyebrow bridge in the middle of the woods, and on back to the Conservatory. Mapleseed1_1

We ended up having to run through the Conservatory as it was close to closing time. But that was probably the most spectacular display, with huge blown globes of colored glass floating amidst the reeds and towering in the Conservatory among the palms. We were told that on Thursday nights, from six to nine, all the pieces are illuminated. Stunning. Sun1

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