I have wonderful memories of my grandmother, Corinne Scanlon, and I miss her more than ever during rhubarb season. She made the most delicious straight-up rhubarb pie imaginable. Oh yes, she was very fond of the gigantic patch where she grew her “pie plant.”

The secret: She enrobed the rhubarb in a sticky combination of sugar, eggs, milk, salt, flour and nutmeg. This filling somehow contained the juiciness of the rhubarb while it cooked down beneath the flaky pastry (made with lard).

With rhubarb, you want the tartness to shine through so restrain yourself from over-sugaring, and use a light hand when adding cinnamon or nutmeg. The spice should enhance the flavor, not overpower it.

If you aren’t as fond of homemade crust as I am, another way to make this old-fashioned pie is to just use a bottom crust and top the rhubarb with this crisp recipe.

Harvest Crisp has been a mainstay in my kitchen for many a year. It’s what I throw together when I don’t have time to make a pie and is a great way to incorporate all manner of fruitful over-abundance, including even drained canned peaches or cherry pie filling.

It’s amazing how delicious fruit can taste when it’s all warm and syrupy and nestled beneath a crust of crunchy buttered sugar. Not to mention that a crisp is the perfect delivery vehicle for vanilla ice cream.

The amount of sugar to be stirred into the fruit before topping it with the crisp is up to you. I tend to use as little as possible, especially when I’m serving this dessert with ice cream.

For the topping, I combine the butter into the dry ingredients with my hands then pat the whole business on top of the fruit and add a few more dots of butter.

If you’re longing for even more rhubarb after the pie and crisp have been devoured, whip up a batch of these easy muffins. The yogurt adds a tangy richness and pairs well with the rhubarb.

These are best straight out of the oven with a pat of butter and a cup of Irish breakfast tea, but if you choose to make them ahead, simply re-heat at 350 degrees for just a few minutes. They will be made in your kitchen every rhubarb season from here on out.

Of course, if you prefer your rhubarb paired with strawberries, a cupful or two can be added to any of these recipes. Adjust the sugar according to the sweetness of the berries.

Ahhhh, life is good. Rhubarb is back in town.

Grandma Scanlon’s Rhubarb Pie
3 cups rhubarb, chopped
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 beaten eggs
2 tbsp. milk
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon and/or 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Pastry for 2-crust pie

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together eggs and milk then add sugar, flour, salt and spices. Fold in rhubarb.

Put filling into prepared bottom crust, dot with butter, and place top crust, sealing edges and cutting vents for steam to escape. Bake for 15 minutes then re-set oven to 350 degrees and bake for 45 minutes more, until filling is soft and bubbling and the crust is golden.

This pie is best served at room temperature so it has time to settle. Left-overs should be refrigerated. Yield: 8 servings

Harvest Crisp
4 cups rhubarb, chopped
1/2-3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp. flour

Crisp:
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup oatmeal
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
2/3 cup softened butter, plus 2 tbsp. more for dotting tops

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix rhubarb in a buttered 8-inch pan, a 1 1/2 quart baking dish or in 5 individual serving-size foil pie plates.

Blend all other ingredients until crumbly, reserving 2 tbsp. butter. Spread over rhubarb. Dot with remaining butter.

Bake for 30 minutes until rhubarb is tender and bubbling and the crisp is golden. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream. Yield: 4-6 servings

June Muffins
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups rhubarb, finely diced

Topping:
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with baking cups or spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt, butter, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.

Fold yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients with a spatula until the batter just comes together; do not over mix. Gently stir in rhubarb. Divide the batter among the muffin cups.

For the topping, in a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle a generous 1/2 tsp. of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over each muffin.

Bake the muffins until they’re golden brown, spring back most of the way when gently pressed, and a pick inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes before removing. Yield: 1 dozen muffins

Your questions and comments are always welcome and will be answered. Send your letters to [email protected] or in care of the Coastal Journal.