Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rhubarb and Book Discussion

Once a month I go to a book discussion group where we talk about children's books, usually one picture book and one middle grade or young adult novel. You can read our monthly reports at our new blog Book Chat Thursday.  We meet in the evening and everyone brings something to nibble while we talk. At our May meeting, I brought rhubarb squares, one of my favorite springtime desserts. (See recipe below.  We also have recipes as a page on our blog.)

Every spring I buy rhubarb at the supermarket.  And it never fails, as the rhubarb slides along the conveyer belt at the checkout stand, the checker always pauses, picks it up, and searches through her code book for the proper number.  Then after scanning it, she says, “Rhubarb.  What do you do with it?”

I make sauce, cake, and sometimes pie.  Nothing is quite as delicious as the sweet/tart flavor of fresh rhubarb. And I love the bright pink color.  I can’t believe that more people in California are not rhubarb fans.

When I was growing up in Minnesota, everyone ate rhubarb in the spring and no one bought it at the supermarket.  It grew like a weed in our side yards.  We simply went out and sliced off the stalks as needed.  Rhubarb was a gift of nature that appeared every spring as a reward for lasting through the long, cold Minnesota winters.  By summer, the stalks turned woody and inedible, ending the rhubarb season.  While it lasted, it was glorious.

I tried growing rhubarb in my garden after I moved to California, but between the winter rains and the clay soil, the roots rotted in the ground before they sprouted.  I’m sure rhubarb can be grown here, but not without a good deal of care.

Sour Cream Rhubarb Squares

Topping: ½ cup sugar, ½ cup chopped nuts, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 Tablespoon melted butter.

Batter: Beat 1 ½ cups brown sugar, ½ cup shortening and 1 egg.
    Sift and add: 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, ½ tsp salt
    Add: 1 cup sour cream
    Stir in: 2 cups rhubarb cut into ½ inch pieces

Spread batter in 9" x 13" greased and floured pan.  Sprinkle with topping.
Bake at 350 degrees 45-50 minutes.  May serve with whipped cream.

This recipe is also good made with blueberries instead of the rhubarb.

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