your stress spots are showing {and maple baked rhubarb with molasses}

If you're having a bad week just be grateful that your beautiful hairdresser friend didn't discover a huge bald spot on your head while you were getting your hair done. 

"Did you know you have a bald spot?" she asked. I blushed. She pointed to where it was on my head. "It's totally hidden," she said, then I joked about how stressed I am she continued,  "Robyn, you really ARE stressed!"  

When I got home I put my phone on reverse camera so I could see it. 

Yes, there she was, a bald spot. And not a cute one, mind you, not a little dime-sized circle, that's totally and completely unnoticeable, we're talking several quarters big. So big I cannot believe I did not notice it before.

I had no idea. 

So, I went to the doctor. "You under a lot of stress?" He asked.

Have you ever had one of those days where you are on the verge of tears all day? But you feel dumb for feeling that way, especially about a patch of hair missing? Yes, you can relate? That was me, all day long on Tuesday. 

So, as soon as the doctor asked "Are you stressed?" I choked back tears and laughed (I laugh sometimes instead of wanting to cry?) and said, "Yes". I looked away for just a sec so he couldn't see my eyes filling up with tears. 

He gave me stress tips and blood tests, just to be safe. (Ps. The blood test guy decided to make me lay me down in the ultrasound room when I joked about fainting right before he was gonna stick the needle in. Straight-faced: "Have you fainted before?" me: "Yes, but that was a long time ago!" One second pause. "Follow me.")  

This bald spot led to an evening of one of the best advice-filled conversations with loved ones I've ever had. After crying it out, talking it out and listening it out, it was all exactly what I needed. Like life-changing needed. 

Funny how we can turn something sad (and unnerving) into something life changing-ly good if we let it.

I don't think I've ever loved bald spot* more. 

What the loss of hair has to do with rhubarb: 

Nothing. (laughing emoji here)

Well, rhubarb is something that doesn't seem like a big deal at all, but it is. 

No, that's not what I mean.

I mean rhubarb is something that is totally over looked, but it's completely worth noticing. Like a stress related bald spot? No, I mean it seems a little unnerving, but it's not, it's totally doable. Like scarves or hair styled over a bald spot. If you don't love it already, I promise you, you will. xo

*Ps. I am so fortunate this bald spot is nothing more than stress related. 

Maple Baked Rhubarb with Molasses 

Serves 4 

adapted from Love, Bake, Nourish by Amber Rose

I like to relate rhubarb to granny smith apples to make it more approachable - it's tart and juicy and when baked, has a similar texture, but way more special. If you're in the mood to discover something new, or maybe you've stared at rhubarb and not really known what to do with it, make this. This recipe is incredibly easy, and every flavor plays to the crimson stalk's tartness beautifully.... and makes a killer accompaniment to vanilla ice cream. Amen. 

6 stalks / 433g (roughly) crimson rhubarb, cut into thumb sized pieces
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
¼ cup / 47ml fresh orange juice
½ cup / 109 ml pure maple syrup (grade A or B)
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed
1 tablespoon dark molasses
grated zest of 1 unwaxed orange
high quality, store-bought vanilla bean ice cream, softened

Preheat oven to 350° F / 180° C. 

After washing and cutting the rhubarb, place it in a big bowl and toss with the ginger, orange juice, vanilla bean seeds, orange zest, molasses and maple syrup. Then place rhubarb in a baking dish that will allow you to lay all of the pieces in a single layer. Put the scrapped-out vanilla bean amongst the rhubarb goodness too. 

Bake uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until rhubarb is soft, and tender but not mushy. You can serve right away, or let it sit for a bit so the flavors can marry. Serve warm, spooned over vanilla ice cream.  

Baker's note: When choosing rhubarb choose stalks that are heavy, deep red and fresh looking - free from bruising. Cut off the top and bottom off and discard those pieces before proceeding to cut it into thumb sized pieces. Rhubarb comes in different colors, and while I am a big big fan of buying local produce, it's just not cold enough here is SoCal to support this blessed "fruit". If you're lucky enough to have rhubarb in abundance, lucky you! Be aware that it does come in different colors (ranging from light pink to sometimes even green (!) but that crimson red is the most common, and the kind sold close to my home.