Owning It

05 . 06 . 12

Oh Rhubarb, are you enjoying your day in the sun?

Everyone is out on the weekend dancing to the banjo man at the farmers markets, celebrating Spring. You’re not the one we’ve been holding out for, but you put up a good fight, so gallant and lanky amidst the new and delicate green, never apologizing for your tartness or your withered nobs. Your arrival in the stalls and tents signals that winter has finally gone to rest and that there are so many good, new things to come.

I’ve taken some notes from you this season, notes on owning it. Not being bossy. Not being prideful. You just show up as you are. Like, hey, I’m not strawberries, but that’s cool that’s not what I want to be. Folks are like WTF sometimes when you gawk about too close to the beets and fennel but you shake it off, you already know that the ones who see your potential are who you want to take you home anyway. Those special folks gussy you up, simmer you down, muddle you with booze, coat you in sugar and butter. You end up really getting the royal treatment when it’s all said and done.

You won’t be around much longer, Rhubarb. Basil and summer squash will burst onto the scene and most will forget you. I won’t. I’m going to think of you all summer. Owning it. Loving it. Not trying to fight any of it. Showing up and being real. I will try my best to just come as I am, what do you think?  That’s all one can really hope to do in this life, right?



Actual vanilla bean is clutch for this recipe. Extract won’t suffice. Treat yourself.

Vanilla Bean Rhubarb Oatmeal

  • 1 lb rhubarb
  • 1 large orange, juice and zest
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1-2 cups old-fashioned (thick cut) oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
Preheat oven to 400.’ Cut rhubarb into 1″ chunks and place in a glass baking dish. Cut open and scoop out the seeds of the vanilla bean onto the rhubarb. Toss in the emptied pods too. Coat with orange juice, zest, sugar, and a bit of water. Mix to cover evenly with sugar, juice, and vanilla. Bake for 15-20 minutes until soft.
Prepare oatmeal to your liking (I use part water part coconut milk for the liquid portion). Scoop a serving of oatmeal into a bowl, cover with rhubarb with a bit of juice, and sprinkle with chopped almonds.

  • Love the ode to rhubarb! When I first moved to the US, I had rhubarb pie for the very first time and loved it. Little did I know that rhubarb itself is tart because in that pie, the rhubarb was sweetened to death. I loved it… But later on as I had it prepared different ways, I learned to appreciate the real taste that it lends. Oatmeal is my all time favorite early morning breakfast and I like sweetening it with fruits and honey. This rhubarb concoction sounds great… Love that it is sweetened by so little sugar and with fresh orange juice.

  • Beautiful, Kelsey! I will never look at rhubarb the same way again. I do celebrate the color and savor the tart flavor of rhubarb, and it’s the ingredient of the week at la Domestique!

  • I love everything about this, especially rhubarb’s knowing it’s not strawberries but that’s OK.

  • Dear rhubarb,
    I would love to have you in my oatmeal some morning. You once grew in my grandmother’s garden but that was very far away. Maybe I can find you at the farmers market some day.

  • Sarah

    This looks really delicious! I cannot wait until my dad’s friend and my aunt give us rhubarb from their garden.

  • Brilliant, Kelsey. I love it. And rhubarb, oh, I love that, too!

  • An ode to rhubarb and authenticity – what a nice way to begin this sunny Sunday. Thanks Kelsey.

  • This post is so great, Kelsey! I cooked down rhubarb into a sauce last month, and while it wasn’t quite right on buckwheat crepes, it was great with oatmeal. Love that you retained some of its texture by roasting it, yum.

  • Recently heard a talk about being an “Owner” or a “Victim” and found I had some of both. Hmm…I’ve been thinking about it ever since – who wants to be a victim??? Not me! Love your thoughts! Thanks.

  • Sarah B.

    Kelsey, work of art. Your writing is incredible. Such a beautiful piece, and I need more. Ps. I’ve been eating your carrot cake for a week straight. I made more. :)

  • I have followed your blog for a while now and am not sure why this is my first comment. I love your photos, your words, and your recipes so much. (So much so that I downloaded your awesome iphone app recently!) But what you wrote for this post especially really struck me. Thanks for sharing. It reminded me of my word for 2012: BOLD. I carry it with me every day. :)

  • I love where you take me with your writing! You had me at “dancing to the banjo man” and I’m all in with trying Rhurbarb now before she gets pushed aside & ignored by the arrival of summer squash! Love you!!

  • My rhubarb is just poking through the earth now (late bloomer!) but I’m dying to make this for breakfast when I get my hands on it!

  • Oh you! {I know I write that every time}. A perfect piece. I am smiling and teary-eyed at the same time, thinking how I always wanted to be those darn strawberries, instead of being comfortable in my own rhubarby-skin.

    I am trying to eat a healthier breakfast, and have been loving all these oatmeal recipes popping up. My rhubarb is peeking at me through my kitchen window right now; I’m going to have to make this tomorrow!

  • I suppose it’s time that I gave rhubarb a chance. Would you believe that I’ve never ever cooked with it?? Crazy. This looks like a wonderful way to utilize it. It’s the first time I’ve seen it served up for breakfast!

  • I love that we both posted vanilla bean rhubarb recipes today. :) Great minds think alike! Rhubarb is totally owning it!

  • Oh hello amazing breakfast! This is being made on Sunday… no doubt about that!

  • FINE! Convince me that rhubarb is awesome. I love that you didn’t combine it with strawberries or anything else to cover up its flavor. Also, vanilla bean and oatmeal is awesome, obvi.

  • I think you’ve perfectly captured the mood of rhubarb. While I am excited to see it at the markets, it’s hardly the fruit (or vegetable?) that I ‘hold out’ for. Yet, the humble rhubarb stalk does wonders for dishes savory and sweet. This oatmeal sounds pretty divine. I think rhubarb’s owning it pretty well :)

  • Will have to give this recipe a try.

  • mary braendle

    not a real lover of rhubarb but Love oatmeal…willing to try. I fell in love with the story.

  • leave it to you to make market rhubarb so melodic and spunky.

  • Oh, I love rhubarb! It goes so well in so many ways. I have never had it with oatmeal, though – looks so good!

  • wow – this sounds so, so good.

    i love rhubarb! i made a simple compote of chopped rhubarb, honey, and a little vanilla to fill crepes a few weekends ago. I need to get more!

  • This might be my most favorite post from you so far, Kelsey. Love it. And girl, I think you do own it.

  • Great Post!!!! Was Laughing out loud :)

  • Lisa

    So sweet :)

  • I miss rhubarb. More so now after reading this post!

  • Ahhha!!!!! Vanilla with almonds!!!! What a combo! You made me drool :)

  • I wonder how many of us sing ‘odes’ to our in season food delights. I wish rhubarb could be readily found down here because just fell in love with Martha Stewart’s Roasted Rhubarb and Sabayon last summer. Wonderful read and photos!

  • We have four rhubarb plants so I am always looking for rhubarb recipes! Love this one!

  • Just found your blog – love the recipes and pics! Rhubarb is one of my favorite things of spring!

  • Looks so good! I’m so not tired of eating rhubarb (I’ve been going a little nuts lately). Rhubarb goes so well with orange and vanilla and I’m sure this would be ideal for breakfast.

  • Oh YUM! Gotta try this. I wonder if there still rhubarb at the grocery store… thank you.

  • Just found your blog via Tartelette, I’m new to the blog world… Lovely writing and wonderful photography. And loving your recipes, have to make a to-do list of all the ones I want to try! :-)

  • Sarah

    Hi Kelsey!!

    I am always looking for new ways to add excitement to my morning oatmeal. Despite my love for rhubarb, I never thought to combine the two! This looks SO good. Can’t wait to try.

    I’m going through your blog looking for recipes for my post-cleanse healthy life, and I’m basically bookmarking every single post. Homemade tortillas? Yes please! Thanks for making my so excited for wholesome food! Great catching up the other day, lets do it again soon.

  • This oatmeal looks so good! I love oatmeal and am always looking for new ways to spruce it up. Fruit and nuts are always my standard topping but I’ll definitely add this to my list. (Even if I have to wait until next spring.)

  • Stacey

    You. Are. Amazing. Thank you for being a true inspiration.

  • This is exactly how I feel about rhubarb. In fact I think the Banjo man just be playing just for it on this sunny, finally warm spring day north of Boston. And with a heel click, and a toe tap – I’m off to cook up some rhubarb.


  1. Ingredient of the Week: Rhubarb | La Domestique
  2. hiking in black & white plus a few inspired reads
  3. Happy Weekend | Lovestruck Social Events
  4. The Vanilla Bean Blog | blackberry and basil focaccia bread
  5. 30 Heart Healthy Oatmeal Recipes
  6. 55 Fun and Healthy Oatmeal Recipes | Laughing Lemon Pie
  7. murr-ma | Happyolks
  8. How to Use Rhubarb

Let's get in Touch

I wish I could make coffee dates with you all. In the meantime, feel free to drop me a line with questions, comments, concerns, or just to say Hi. I like that. There is nothing more uplifting than an email from a a fresh contact or kindred spirit.

I can be reached through this contact form and at happyolks [at] gmail [dot] com.