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LET'S COOK: Rhubarb review

June 11, 2018
Chuck Repnow , Pierce County Tribune

Summer is rich in so many ways with the return of many birds, the longer daylight hours, and wherever you turn, some shade of lovely green in growth. In addition to these, comes the first harvest of rhubarb. In my old-fashioned heart, this brings to mind sweet memories.

I was recently in Underwood and had the chance to step back into our former rhubarb patch. Yes, what memories! As a child, I enjoyed harvesting rhubarb and taking the time to step into the patch and just relax. I discovered this magic early in life, and who knew that being neighborly with huge cool rhubarb leaves could be so relaxing. Looking back toward our home, I could see my brothers running about. As the ruffled edges of the rhubarb touched my skin, I recalled many fine moments. It was a great time to look at the huge sky with creative clouds with the ground beneath the leaves--cool and supportive. Kneeling closer to the patch brought forth a place of unique comfort, peace and the creative patterns one can see when looking at the underside of a rhubarb leaf.

So here I am, fifty years later, and all those great feelings were back. I didn't take the time to kneel in the patch this time, and perhaps a good thing as I weigh slightly more than I did when I was eight years old. As I gathered good-looking ruby red stalks, I did nestle up to the taller leaves, giving up my to do list and ever-calling duties just for a few moment to look back at the front door of my childhood home and say " Lucky me."

Article Photos

Living out on the prairie you too have connection and memories of rhubarb. After all, it has always been close to the lives of many. When was the first time you noticed the beautiful color of rhubarb? Can you recall the hands who harvested it? For me, it was my mother who showed me their glorious charm as she stood in our east garden with a cluster of red and green in her arms.

She taught me the beauty, and ever since then, I've watched for the rhubarb patch to rise again. In time, I had the chance to see the blooming of rhubarb presenting a wonderful plume of peridot green. Recently in Minot, I noticed a woman had arranged a spray of these blooming clouds on her front step! Oh, the touch of North Dakota rhubarb. It brings to mind the time Mildred Rothgarn presented a like peridot plume at the Prairie Village Museum Rhubarb Festival.

Rhubarb was a family affair in our home. My dad enjoyed rhubarb desserts, and especially rhubarb sauce. He was not a cook but his connection with harvesting rhubarb came as the leaves were removed. After a hearty pile of leaves had been assembled, he positioned them around his tomato plants in the garden which resulted in trapping moisture and less weeding!

Fact Box

Rhubarb Cake

This recipe came from Jan's great aunt, Agnes Tufte, in Stewartville, MN, and was always a favorite treat when Jan's family visited the Thompson farm in Minnesota as the rhubarb flourished at the farmstead. This dessert is a delicious and festive treat in the summer bounty of rhubarb. There is no need for additional toppings as the cinnamon sugar gives a light crunch to the cake.

- cup shortening

- 1 cup white sugar

- teaspoon salt

- 1 egg

- 1 teaspoon vanilla

- 1 teaspoon soda

- 1 cup buttermilk

- 2 cups and 1 Tablespoon flour

- 3 cups cut up (fresh-not frozen) rhubarb

- cup red sugar

Cream shortening, sugar, salt, vanilla, and egg. Mix soda in buttermilk. Add buttermilk and flour alternately. Add cut up rhubarb. Add red sugar. Pour in a greased bottom 9 x 13 pan. Top with a mixture of 1/3 cup white sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Grandma Moses once said "Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be." And this is certain true with how one interprets summer rhubarb.

 
 

 

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