Rhubarb: An Education (with Recipes!)

Rhubarb: An Education (with Recipes!)

Cut Up RhubarbA show of hands, who else loves rhubarb? It is one of my favorite edible plants to grow (as I mentioned in our post Urban Gardening on Our Country Plot), not just because it’s delicious, but also because it’s so easy to maintain, can be harvested multiple times throughout the summer, and is packed full of vitamins and minerals.

Did you know that rhubarb is a vegetable? I didn’t, but if you think about it, it makes sense, as fruit for the most part develops from the ovary of a flowered plant. Rhubarb finds it’s origins in China, where it’s been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, and over time, the plant’s popularity slowly spread throughout Asia and Europe. It was brought over to North America in the late 1700s.

How to Plant

Growing rhubarb is very straight-forward. It can be started from seed, but by far the easiest way is to plant a crown or budded piece. It is very resilient, but it does not particularly like disturbance, so plant it in a permanent spot in your yard. Pick a moist, well drained area in full sun (though it will tolerate semi-shade) and plant the crowns or buds approximately 1” below the soil level. Water well throughout the summer, as rhubarb needs sufficient moisture to thrive.

Harvesting

Resist the urge to harvest rhubarb in it’s first year (not an easy feat for me!), as it will allow the plant to become established. After the first year, harvest by twisting the stalk at the base of the plant. Don’t gather more than half the stalks at once (another difficult task for me) as over-harvesting will reduce the plant’s vitality. A word of caution: only the stems are edible. The leaves contain oxalic acid which is a toxin. Simply trim off the leaf and throw it in your composter (yes, the leaves can be composted, as oxalic acid is not readily absorbed by plant roots).

Recipes

What kind of person would I be if I did all this talk about how wonderful rhubarb is and not leave you with a couple of recipes? Below are two of our favorites. The first is a recipe that the Tétraults have had in their family for generations, a delectable cake smothered in heavy cream.

Official Tétrault Rhubarb Cake Recipe
  • Print Recipe2 cups flour
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups rhubarb mixed with 1 tbsp flour

Topping

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9” cake pan and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder. Add buttermilk, butter, egg, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, and then on medium for 1 minute.

In a separate mixing bowl, prepare the topping by mixing the butter, cinnamon and brown sugar together. The mixture should become crumbly. Set aside.

Spread rhubarb mixture into the prepared pan. Next, pour the batter into the pan on top of the rhubarb mixture. Sprinkle mixture on top of the cake. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Serve warm in a bowl with a healthy dollop of heavy cream.

Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake Muffins

This is a fantastic muffin recipe, and when you add a little rhubarb, it makes it just perfect. Follow Sugar and Soul’s recipe below to the letter, but exchange the 1 ½ cups of strawberries for 1 cup of strawberries and 1 cup of rhubarb.

Strawberry Coffee Cake Muffins

We hope you enjoy these desserts! Let us know what your favorite rhubarb recipes are in the comments below!


Check back for weekly posts on a wide variety of topics, including country living, gardening, sustainability, homesteading, family, recipes, and more. We can’t wait to share our lives with you, hear your stories, and gain friends along the way.

Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to our blog by adding your email address to the form on the right. You’ll be the first to hear about weekly updates! Have questions or comments? Leave us a message in the comments section, and we’ll be sure to get back to you. We can’t wait to hear what you think! And as always, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by clicking the links on the right.

Olive Garden Evening at Home with Friends

Olive Garden Evening at Home with Friends

Table Set and Ready for Our GuestsFriends and Food. Two words that blend as well as the finest sangria. Add to that some delicious Italian food made by hand and now we’re talking. You just can’t beat a beautifully prepared meal and the enjoyment of sharing it with others. We had the pleasure of having friends over a few weeks ago to celebrate the start of spring and catch up after a long, grey winter.

The idea all started while my friend and I were out for a girls-only day of shopping, and happened to have lunch at Olive Garden. I mentioned to her that I had a fantastic recipe for Pasta E Fagioli soup, and we came up with the notion to get our families together for dinner. Calendars were consulted, a date was picked, and I went home to plan.

Pasta E Fagioli Soup Simmering on the Stove
This is a great recipe that you can prepare ahead of time, and even put in the crockpot to simmer all day if you want. (If you’re going to use the crockpot, make sure that you beef is browned before adding it to the soup, and only put the cooked pasta in right at the end so that it stays al dente).

For those of you thinking that soup is a bit of a ho-hum idea for a dinner get-together, I beg to differ. There’s not much that can outshine Olive Garden’s famous soup, salad and breadsticks, and I was planning for the whole shebang. Fresh, hot out of the oven, bakery garlic sticks, chunky, meaty soup and of course, an amazing tossed salad complete with all the fixings and the official Olive Garden dressing (brought over by our guests); isn’t your mouth watering already? Your taste buds are in for such a treat!

Print VersionOfficial Tétrault Pasta E Fagioli Recipe
  • 5 cups (40oz) Motts Clamato juice
  • 3 ¼ cups (26oz) diced tomatoes (in its juice)
  • 1 ¾ cups (14oz) consommé soup
  • 1 ¾ cups (14oz) water
  • 3 tbsp chicken soup base
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • ¼ tsp hot paprika
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 carrots, thinly sliced
  • ½ cabbage, shredded (optional)
  • 1 ½ cups corkscrew or ditalini pasta
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

Bring all liquid to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. While liquid is simmering, sauté vegetables and set aside. In same pan used for vegetables, brown ground beef. Add vegetables to liquids, and simmer for another 30 minutes. Add beans, beef and pasta to the soup and simmer for another 20 minutes. Serve hot with grated Parmesan cheese.

As Night Fell…
Waiting Patiently to Dig In
Katrina’s waiting patiently to dig into her dinner.

We had such a fantastic evening, the sun was out and everyone was in terrific spirits, ready to shed the last dregs of winter. It was a little cool to eat outside, but after dinner we took ourselves and our glasses of wine out to watch the kids run around and the sun start to set.

This adventure that we’re on, Trading Desks for Dirt, is as much about our family and friends as it is about turning our property into a homestead. It’s about each and every step of the way, working side by side and teaching our children the value of learning life skills, working with your hands, and being creative. We are excited to share this story with you, and are looking forward to many more nights on our front porch, leaning back, listening to the crickets sing and watching our family grow.


Check back for weekly posts on a wide variety of topics, including country living, gardening, sustainability, homesteading, family, recipes, and more. We can’t wait to share our lives with you, hear your stories, and gain friends along the way.

Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to our blog by adding your email address to the form on the right. You’ll be the first to hear about weekly updates! Have questions or comments? Leave us a message in the comments section, and we’ll be sure to get back to you. We can’t wait to hear what you think! And as always, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by clicking the links on the right.