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Karen Huber / West Fargo Pioneer

Eating Well: Early rhubarb crop makes for long season

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eating well Fargo, 58102
Fargo North Dakota 101 5th Street North 58102

With the beautiful day on Saturday, I was amazed when I walked out to my little backyard garden and noted the chives and rhubarb already thriving, with the former ready for the taking now, and the latter mature enough very soon for some of those favorite rhubarb recipes we have the habit of tucking away during the non-seasonal rhubarb months.

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Just seeing the plant almost ripe for the picking made me want to dig through my files and resurrect the ones I will be using my first batches of rhubarb for.

Topping that list is my traditional rhubarb cake recipe with the cinnamon, brown sugar topping. A close second will be a batch of homemade rhubarb jelly - in the family for years - that is so remarkably easy and delicious. Mixed with the strawberry Jell-O it provides a great topping for that morning toast, English muffin or bagel. If you want to step up the strawberry flavor even a little more you can add a few fresh strawberries to the recipe.

As an added note, if you want to make the rhubarb cake even a little more decadent, skip the brown sugar and cinnamon topping and frost it with the caramel icing recipe also featured once it has a chance to cool. The flavors of the caramel and the spiciness of the cake are a perfect pairing. This is a really good caramel frosting recipes - it doesn't harden and stays creamy right down to the very last piece of cake.

The rhubarb cake and jelly are simply a good starting point. As summer progresses and new and interesting rhubarb-based recipes come to my attention, I will make it a point to share them.

In the meantime, enjoy - and until next time, from my kitchen to yours, happy cooking and baking!

Rhubarb Cake

1 ½ cups brown sugar

½ cup butter or margarine

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp. soda

2 eggs

Pinch of salt

2 cups flour

1 ½ cups rhubarb cut in small pieces

1 tsp. vanilla

Topping:

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

With electric mixer blend together brown sugar, butter and eggs. Mix in buttermilk and follow with salt, soda, flour and vanilla. Beat well. Add the rhubarb and mix in. Pour into greased 9x13 cake pan.

Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture over the top and swirl in a little with a knife.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve warm or cold, topped with whipped cream, ice cream, or frost with the caramel frosting recipe featured below.

Delicious Caramel Frosting

½ cup butter

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/3 cup heavy cream, more if needed

1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in brown sugar and cream. Bring to a boil, and transfer to mixing bowl. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat with a handheld electric mixer until it reaches a spreading consistency. At this time it may be necessary to add a tablespoon or more of cream if the frosting gets too thick. Be sure to add cream in small amounts so you don't use too much.

Easy Rhubarb Jelly

5 cups diced rhubarb

3 cups sugar

1 small package strawberry Jell-O

Mix rhubarb and sugar together in pan and let stand until juicy. Cook mixture until rhubarb is tender. Add package of Jell-O and cook just a little more until blended in well. Put in hot jars with hot lids and screw on tightly. Jelly will seal itself. Or pour into freezer containers with lids and freeze.

khuber@westfargopioneer.com

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