Monday, May 23, 2011

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

Think back a moment and reminisce about all of the homes you've ever lived in. Which one brings back the fondest memories?

I bet you liked your neighbors at that house, didn't you? Neighbors can make your homestead heaven or hell.

I am blessed with awesome neighbors, which is one reason I love my town so much that I created a blog about it! Whether they are calling the police because people are snooping around my house (sure they were just painters writing an estimate, but their van wasn't marked and we weren't home), returning our dog who slipped out the door when I was bringing in groceries, or just giving a friendly wave as I pull up from a long day at work, my neighbors enhance my home life and contribute to a wonderful sense of community.

Unfortunately, this past Thanksgiving, one of our dearest neighbors passed away. She was a 94 year old spunky retired teacher who always made a point of greeting us with a smile and a kind word (usually about how wonderful our children were, even when the kids kept kicking balls accidentally into her flower beds). Every spring she would offer me the rhubarb from a large plant she had growing in her backyard, and each year I took her up on the offer. I always baked a treat with it and sent a little over to her house in gratitude.

This year her son, who is watching the house as they prepare it for sale, made the same standing offer. I just kept postponing my cutting, not feeling right about it. Finally, after the poor rhubarb plant overgrew and shot off its seed, I figured that if she was looking down on me, she would hate for it to go to waste. So I cut, and I cut, and I cut.

And I made this and named it after her:

Arlene's Strawberry Rhubarb Gelatin Salad
adapted from Rosy Rhubarb Salad at

4 cups fresh sliced rhubarb (1/4 inch slices)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 large package (0.6 oz) sugar free strawberry gelatin
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp grated orange rind
1 cup sliced strawberries

Heat rhubarb, water and sugar in saucepan until rhubarb is soft.
Combine rhubarb mixture and gelatin in a bowl and stir until gelatin is dissolved.
Add applesauce, OJ and orange rind.
Chill 2 hours until gelatin is semi firm.
Fold in strawberries and mix well.
Refrigerate overnight.
Share with your neighbor.

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