Braised Vanilla Rhubarb in Rosé. The Art of Living for One.

Living alone has its downsides.  If you fall in the shower you either have to shelter in place or crawl nakedly to freedom. It can be quite difficult to unzip cocktail dresses and hang pictures.  And opening a nice bottle of wine often requires a commitment to over-serving yourself.

People also act awkwardly when you tell them you are childless and thirty-one and paying more than a suburban mortgage for a one bedroom rental.  There’s often a pause.  “You’ll find him,” they say.

Maybe not.

What I think people forget about living alone—or never get a chance to experience—is the quiet freedom of caring for one.

You can eat radishes with lazy man’s Caesar dressing for dinner, if this sort of thing pleases you.  There is also no one to stop you from ordering a bright pink bedroom rug from a man named Ibrahim in Turkey.  Nor is there any shame that comes with listening to the lyrical magic of Phil Collins and his No Jacket Required album. None.

And if you wake up at 6 AM and feel like braising rhubarb at this ungodly hour, you can.  And if you want to do it in some of that leftover rosé you overserved yourself with last night, you can.  No one is going to tell.  It’s all yours.

You can eat it in the company of the quiet morning sun.  Or with the company of Bob Oakes from WBUR  and a discussion on botched Oklahoma executions.  The point is, there are upsides to this sort of lifestyle.

Today, in the interest of brevity, we are going to focus on the freedom to cook rhubarb.  Which, of course, can be done at any hour. By anyone.  Single or coupled. 

This has become my favorite way to eat it.  A tried and true seasonal recipe to come back to year after year.  The recipe is a riff on a version of Canal House Cooking, courtesy of Molly Wizenberg.  It’s fabulous with dry white or rosé wine and makes a fast acquaintance out of a split vanilla bean.  I also like to nestle in some citrusy coriander and white peppercorns. 

And that’s pretty much it.  Bake until it softens and turns the color of a pink Turkish rug.

And then eat it within the lifestyle life has awarded you.  You may share it with your husband, or daughter, or even a man named Bob.  Unfortunately, today, here, I have none left to offer.  No rhubarb. Just a photo of a sunlit gang of softened stalks bathing in sugared rosé.

Too late to share.  And this is fine by me.  To utter the wise words of a man named Phil, “Who said I would?”

Braised Vanilla Rhubarb in Rosé
Inspired by Canal House Cooking (Volume 3) and Orangette


1 pound of rhubarb stalks
½ cup sugar
½ cup dry rosé wine
pinch of salt
about 10 to 12 coriander seeds
about 8 whole white peppercorns
1 vanilla bean, split


Set the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the rhubarb stalks into pieces roughly 4 to 5-inches in length.  Place in a baking dish or casserole.  In a small bowl, mix the sugar, wine, salt, and whole spices. Scrape the seeds from the inside of the vanilla pod into the bowl; stir to combine.

Pour the mixture over the rhubarb.  Wedge the vanilla bean pod in among the stalks.  Bake for about 30 minutes, gently turning the stalks half way through to ensure even cooking.

Let cool and then chill and serve cold.

Yield is variable, pending your preferences and lifestyle

-Don’t have white peppercorns?  I wager the more ubiquitous black ones would work well here too.

-This is really great on top of yogurt or ice cream.  


  1. Living alone is the best! I haven't lived alone for a really long time, and even though I'm happy where I am, I also really miss having so much of my own time and space. So calm and easy. Just like this rhubarb! Yay!

  2. I generally like living alone, but sometimes it gets a bit lonely. I think that part (loneliness) can be offset with good friends. But I do wonder why "everyone" thinks a woman should have a man? What if she doesn't want one?

    Anyways...the rhubarb looks and sounds lovely!

  3. Eileen and Joyti-yes, agreed, definitely has its ups and downs. But this rhubarb is a constant. ;)