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Rhubarb season is perfect for all those desserts

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Fargo, 58102

Fargo North Dakota 101 5th Street North 58102

Weather conditions has obviously been great for the rhubarb, I know because I have a very small plant growing vigorously in the corner of my small vegetable garden. It is four-years old and this year is the heartiest the plant has ever been. I've taken one cutting off the plant, and it is almost ready for a second.

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It must be the cooler temperatures up to a week ago that have nurtured the plant, since rhubarb is a cool season, perennial plant that requires temperatures below 40 degrees to come out of dormancy and temperatures of less than 75 degrees to promote vigorous growth.

Rhubarb is a very old plant, with earliest records dating back to 2700 BC in China where it was cultivated for medicinal purposes.

Considered a vegetable plant, rhubarb is somewhat good for you, comprised of 95 percent water and containing a fair source of potassium and it is low in sodium. The crisp, sour stalks are rich in vitamin C, dietary fiber and calcium. Rhubarb is somewhat acidic but in most recipes this is offset by sugar. It is also very low in calories, with one cup containing about 26.

This year's first batch from my garden was tender, and tasty, the perfect combination for all those cakes, muffins and desserts that are always so refreshing during the early summer months, when anything made with fresh rhubarb is a real treat.

This week I'm featuring two tried-and-true rhubarb recipes, and two that were recently brought to my attention that I'm anxious to share.

The "Rhubarb Cake" is a hand-me-down recipe from my mother, which is delicious served as a breakfast coffee cake or as a traditional dessert. The brown sugar and cinnamon topping is wonderful and when I have a little extra time, I like to make one of my favorite brown sugar frosting recipes and top it with that. The cake is very moist and absolutely delicious served either way, topped with Cool Whip or ice cream. It's even better served warm.

The "Rhubarb Cream Cake" is so easy with the rhubarb, cream and sugar mixture poured over the top, baking up into wonderful custard that ends up at the bottom of the cake. This is also great served slightly warm with your favorite creamy topping.

The "Rhubarb Bars" and "Rhubarb Dump Cake" recipes were recently given to me by friends and will be the next ones I prepare from my imminent batch of rhubarb.

I repeat, if any of you out there have recipes you'd like me to feature, please get in touch.

Until next week, from my kitchen to yours, happy cooking!

Rhubarb Cake

1 ½ cups brown sugar

½ cup margarine

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp. soda

2 eggs

2 cups flour

1 ½ cups rhubarb

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

Topping:

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/3 cup brown sugar

Mix brown sugar and margarine and beat until creamy. Add eggs and blend well. Add buttermilk, flour mixed with the soda and salt, and vanilla. Beat well again for about a minute. Fold in rhubarb. Pour into greased 9x13 inch cake pan. Mix cinnamon and brown sugar for topping. Sprinkle over top of cake and swirl through. Bake at 350 degrees until cake springs back to touch. Check cake after 35 minutes and continue to do so until done.

Rhubarb Cream Cake

1 white cake mix, pudding included

5 cups fresh rhubarb

1 pint cream

1 cup sugar

Prepare cake as directed on package. Pour into greased 9x13 inch cake pan. Place rhubarb evenly over the top. Sprinkle the sugar over the rhubarb. Pour pint of cream evenly over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes, or maybe even longer depending on your oven temperature. Keep checking for firmness in the center.

Serve with Cool Whip or real whipped cream.

Rhubarb Bars

2 cups flour

10 tbsp. powdered sugar

1 cup butter

4 beaten eggs

3 cups sugar

½ cup flour

4 cups finely cut rhubarb

Mix together the flour, butter and powdered sugar. Press into greased 9x13 inch pan and bake for 15-20 minutes at 325 degrees. Cool. Mix eggs, sugar, flour and rhubarb. Spread over cooled crust and bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve warm with ice cream.

Rhubarb Dump Cake

5 cups rhubarb, cut into small pieces

¾ cup sugar

1 small box of raspberry or strawberry Jell-O

1 yellow cake mix, pudding included

½ cup melted butter

1 cup water

Cool Whip, real whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream

Place the rhubarb in bottom of ungreased 9x13 inch pan. Sprinkle sugar over rhubarb, followed by the Jell-O. Sprinkle entire cake mix over the top. Pour the melted butter over the cake mix, followed by the water. Bake for 45 minutes in 350 degree oven. Serve warm with topping of choice.

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