Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Recipes: Rhubarb

'Tis the season for rhubarb! Those less than attractive giant leaves that yield edible stalks of the tasty vegetable, rhubarb. 

That's right: rhubarb is a vegetable. 

You would think it was a fruit the way it's used in jams, cakes, pies, cobblers and other sweet desserts.

We've gone through our collection of rhubarb recipes and chosen a handful for you to enjoy. If you make any let us know!

~ Amanda

Rhubarb Cake

3/4 cup margarine
2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cream together all cake ingredients and pour into a greased and floured 9x13 pan. Before baking combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over the top of the batter. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Unbaked pastry for 2 pie crusts (For the top and bottom)
1/3 cup flour
2 cups chopped rhubarb
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 cups fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Stir together sugar and flour. Place one of the pie crusts pastries in a pie plate for the bottom crust, and place the rhubarb in the bottom. Sprinkle with half the sugar mixture. Repeat with strawberries and remaining sugar mixture. Dot with butter. Place on top crust and crimp edges. Cut slits in the top of the crust. Bake for 40-50 minutes.

Rhubarb Sponge Pie

1 unbaked pie shell
3 cups rhubarb, chopped
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. tapioca
2 tsp. grated orange rind
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tablespoons orange juice

Mix rhubarb, 1 cup sugar, tapioca and orange rind. Pour into the pie shell. In a small bowl, beat together eggs and sugar for 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and beat one more minute. Pour over rhubarb mixture in pie crust. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until rhubarb is tender and the batter is cooked.

Easy Rhubarb Jam

5 1/2 cups rhubarb, finely diced
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry Jell-o

Mix rhubarb and sugar, allow to sit overnight. The next morning, boil the mixture for 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add Jell-o and mix until it's dissolved. Pour into sterilized jars. Cool, and keep in refrigerator.

Rhubarb Bread

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2/3 cup oil
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups finely diced rhubarb
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Stir together in order given. Pour into greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 to 60 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Makes 2 loafs.

Rhubarb Cobbler

1 cup flour
2 tablespoon margarine
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tablespoons milk
3 cups rhubarb, chopped
3 ounce package strawberry gelatin
1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 stick margarine

Cut the 2 tablespoons margarine into the flour until crumbly. Add eggs, milk, baking powder and salt. Make a soft dough and press into an 8x8 inch pan. Press the dough up the sides of the pan. Place the rhubarb evenly in the bottom of the pan . Sprinkle with the strawberry gelatin(dry). In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and margarine to make a topping. Sprinkle over the gelatin. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until rhubarb is tender.

Caramel Rhubarb 'n' Dumplings
serves 8

( I have converted this to low fat and it is still mighty tasty)
1 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 packet of (liquid) butter buds...used without adding the liquid (or 3 Tbsp. butter)
4 cups sliced rhubarb
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup plus Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 packet of (liquid) butter buds...used without adding the liquid (or 1/4 cup butter melted)
1/3 cup milk
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

In a 2 quart microwave safe casserole combine water, brown sugar, 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch & packet of butter buds . Add the sliced rhubarb. Cook, uncovered on 100% power for 7-9 min. or until thickened & bubbly, stirring after every minute. Cover to keep warm. In medium mixing bowl combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar % 2B 2 Tbsp.sugar, baking powder, salt & butter buds (or melted 1/4 cup butter). If using melted butter add it along with the milk to the dry ingredients. Mix until blended. Drop batter by rounded tablespoons into hot rhubarb mixture. Cover with waxed paper; cook for 5-6 min. or until dumplings are done, giving the dish a half-turn once. Stir together the 2 tsp. sugar & cinnamon; sprinkle over dumplings. Serve warm.

Rhubarb Cookies

3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup rhubarb sauce (unsweetened)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/3 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups oatmeal (not instant)
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Mix sugar and oil together. Add beaten egg, vanilla, rhubarb sauce and oatmeal. Sift dry ingredients together and add to first mixture. Stir in walnuts. Drop from teaspoon onto cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 min. or until golden brown.

Cindy from northern Michigan sent us some rhubarb recipes.

Springtime Rhubarb Salad

2 1/2 cups rhubarb (cut into 1-inch pieces)
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
6-oz. package raspberry flavored gelatin
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups celery (chopped)
1 cup chopped walnuts

In a medium saucepan, boil rhubarb in 1/2 cup water until tender. Add sugar to dissolve. Add lemon juice and chill. In a large bowl, dissolve gelatin with boiling water and cool. Blend all ingredients together and chill.

Rhubarb Drink

1 cup rhubarb, cut up
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 6-oz can frozen pink lemonade

Cook all ingredients. Strain. Chill. Just before serving add 16 oz lemon-lime soda. Need to triple recipe for large crowd. Strained rhubarb can be used cup for cup like applesauce in a cake or cookie recipe.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crunch

2 cups sliced strawberries
3 cups chopped rhubarb
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, combine strawberries, rhubarb, sugar and 1/4-cup flour; mix well. Pour into 9x9-inch baking pan. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar; cut in flour and oats. Sprinkle evenly over fruit. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool slightly before cutting into serving squares. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Bette sent this in to us!

Rhubarb Cake Dessert
Submitted by Marsha from Colorado

This is such an easy & delicious rhubarb cake. 8 cups cut up rhubarb, spread evenly in a 9x13" pan.

1 1/2 cups sugar sprinkled evenly over the rhubarb.

1 6oz. package of dry strawberry jello, sprinkled over the rhubarb (after the sugar has been sprinkled)

1 package dry yellow or white cake mix, sprinkled over the jello.

Drizzle 2/3 cups of melted butter over the top.
Bake 40 minutes at 375 degrees. Serve warm (or cold is ok, too) with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Sharon sent this in-thanks Sharon!

Rhubarb Muffins

1 1/2 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. oil
1 egg
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. diced rhubarb
1/2 c. chopped nuts

Fill 2/3 full, paper-lined muffin tins or pour batter into 9x13 cake pan.Sprinkle with topping. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.


1/2 c chopped nuts
1/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. flour
1 Tbsp. melted butter

Mix together; sprinkle over unbaked muffins.

This is a Favorite Recipe of mine.

Iced Rhubarb Cake
From Barbara Fassbind

Barbara, who resides in Switzerland, was kind enough to share this recipe with us. Barbara confessed: "When I read the recipe, it sounded awful, but a friend made it, I tried it and have been making it ever since!" We think this makes it a keeper of a recipe!

Ingredients for the cake:

a little more than a pound of rhubarb, peeled if necessary and cut into small cubes
3 1/2 ounces of butter or margarine, softened
3 eggs
a pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour minus a rounded teaspoon
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Beat the butter, eggs, salt, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of your mixer until it looks like mayonnaise about 3 - 5 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved by this time. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Add the rhubarb cubes, fold well, and put everything into a greased, floured and parchment lined 10" springform pan or a flower pan as in the photo. I think Williams-Sonoma sells something very similar. Bake for about 60 minutes on the lowest rack of a preheated 350° oven. When done, let the cake cool. When completely cool, turn it over onto a rack so you can pour over the icing.

Ingredients for icing :

- 1 1/2 bars of semisweet chocolate (this is about 5 1/2 ounces). I like the Lindt in the gray wrapper with blue writing, but any good chocolate will do.

- 1/2 cup cream

Melt the chocolate and cream over low heat and pour this over the cake. It shouldn't cover the sides of the cake completely. Just let it sort of drip down by tilting the cake. It does look really pretty with the decorations.

This cake is really moist and stays wonderfully fresh for several days. Make sure people taste before you tell them what it is! The recipe comes from Betty Bossi which is sort of the Swiss equivalent of Betty Crocker! I've been making this cake since 1988 and still love it as does everyone who's ever eaten it. The combination of sour rhubarb and sweet chocolate is delightful. You may have to fool around a little bit with the flour since I use a weight measure, but I think I got it pretty accurate. Anyway, this takes no time to do - it's easy as pie. Easier actually!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: Efficient Refrigerators

Now that it's summer, most of us start thinking about keeping our electric bill in check. One way to do that is to keep your refrigerator and freezer, if you have one, running efficiently.

Here are a few tips to help get you started:

Be sure to vacuum the condenser coils on your refrigerator at least once a year. You may have to pull your appliance out from the wall to do this, but when the coils are dusty, it keeps the fridge from cooling efficiently.

If you have an older fridge, check the door gaskets to make sure you have a tight seal and aren't losing cold air around the doors.

Another "small" thing you can do: when you are putting away your groceries after a trip to the store, gather all your items for the fridge in one place. Then you can open the refrigerator one time and put everything inside.

If you don't have a frost-free freezer and there's more than 1/2 inch of frost built up, it's time to defrost. You can speed up the process by setting pans of hot water inside. Never use a knife to try to dislodge the frost and never use a hair dryer to melt it. Water and electricity do not mix!

Now that it's clean and defrosted, keep your freezer efficient by filling empty spaces with old milk jugs filled 3/4 way with water. These jugs also make good ice blocks for your picnic cooler!

Another good use for these jugs of ice: set one on the kitchen counter in the morning. As the ice melts, your children can have ice water to drink without opening the refrigerator door.

One last thing to remember, when there's lightning around, it might be safer to just unplug your fridge and freezer. Food in the freezer will stay frozen for up to 48 hours if the door is kept closed. Food in the refrigerator will keep up to 24 hours.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Old Fashioned Garden Tidbits

I've never been without a garden, It's a lifetime challenge: a thing of beauty and a 3-D puzzle. ~Beatrice J. Elye

I hope everyone had a nice Memorial Day. We visited with my parents, and my brother and his family who came to visit from out of state. Today I wanted to share a variety of tips I found fascinating and useful! These are from old gardening magazines that I've collected.

-The soil used to plant sweet potatoes should be prepared with some compost and wood ashes or other potassium rich materials, but not manure, cottonseed meal or blood meal, which have too much nitrogen.

-Birds will sometimes pull up sweet corn as it germinates (plus I've had starlings nip off new plant growth on some flowers too). If you have this problem sprinkle lime lightly on the rows and on each side just as the corn is popping through the ground. This will keep the birds away.

-I've always crushed up my egg shells after rinsing and allowing them to dry to keep slugs away from my hostas and other plants, but here is another option. Poultry graded oyster shell is available from most feed stores very cheaply, and if you use it to cover the soil around the stem of plants, it will keep away the slugs. They hate it! It's also good for your soil...unless you have a very alkaline soil already then you may want to opt for another method.

-If you trouble with your carrots splitting your soil may be too dry. Try mixing in completely rotted manure or compost into the soil when you plant, then mulch the plants and water them regularly and even more during drought periods.

-a reader had read that flax would keep beetles away from potatoes and decided to try it. She planted 3 seeds in each hill, just covering them with a big of dirt. All the hills with flax had no insect damage at all! Plus the flax is a pretty blue flower that will add a cheerful look to your potato hills!

-Damping off can be a real problem when growing plants from seeds inside. Take 3 tsp. of dried chamomile and steep it in 6 cups of boiling water. Allow it to steep while it completely cools off. Water the seedlings the next 2 or 3 times with this tea until they look healthy again!

-Wormwood makes a foul smell tea that repels pests! Add a couple of handfuls of chopped wormwood to a bucket and cover it with boiling water. Stir it occasionally until it starts to ferment. At this point you can sprinkle it on the plants to repel insects on potatoes, eggplant and okra. It has a sticky residue so it "sticks" to the plants!

-The plastic lids on coffee cans or other products can be painted with honey or a commercial sticky solution, and they can be hung in greenhouses to catch aphids. If the lids are washed regularly they will last a long time and can be reused over and over.

-A gardener from Wisconsin had trouble with rabbits eating their vegetable crops and had tried every solution they read about but none worked until they tried plain ground black pepper. They sprinkled it around all the plants and on the plant itself and it did the trick! Buy the cheapest variety of pepper(dollar stores are a good place to look) and reapply when it's washed away by rains.

-The mesh bags that onions are sold in work great for hanging herbs to dry! Place the herbs inside the bag and hand somewhere dry with good air circulation until they dry. Crush while still in the bag and they will fall out onto the counter or plate if you hold it over one. Store in a covered container and you are set!

-Spreading diatomaceous earth or finely crushed eggshells to deter slugs is a lot easier if you save your Parmesan Cheese containers. The holes are large enough to just"sprinkle" the shells or powder and you can close it up and store it in the shed until you need to reapply.

I've always loved collecting sweet gum balls (they are small perfectly round spiky balls that come from the sweet gum tree) for crafts. The kids love them too! But you can also use them around your plants to deter the slugs. Ask around, and if you don't have them on your property, someone who does would probably be glad to have you pick them up.

Ant wars? A very interesting tip on taking ants and soil from one ant hill and placing it in a second hill, and then doing the same to a third hill with ants/dirt from the second hill.Those ants move to the first hill and they all start fighting. Within a week all three hills were empty (or dead) and the tip writer didn't see them again!

Make your own soap spray for pests: