Saturday, July 9, 2011

Rhubarb Joy!

When I made up all the zucchini bread, I saved a loaf to take to the neighbor who gave me the zucchini. I finally remembered to take it to her yesterday and while I was there she asked me if I wanted some rhubarb. Well, of course I did! She even had a print out of ways to use rhubarb that she gave me.

In case you aren't familiar with rhubarb, the plant grows in bushy clumps. It survives the best in cool months. It doesn't do well in southern states but northern states can generally develop a good crop. The rhubarb is immune to most pests and disease which makes it a low maintenance crop. It has a tart flavor in the stalk area which is wonderful for jams and pies. You can actually chew on the stalk like celery if you want. I remember doing so when I was a young girl in my mother's garden.

Pictured you can see the stalks that my neighbor gave to me. I'd like to say that Jasmine's hand is in the picture for reference but really she just wanted her picture taken and this was her sneaky way of getting in all the photos. :)

I took the stalks and trimmed the leaves off the top and cleaned the stalks thoroughly. I know my neighbor doesn't use pesticides on her crops but the stalks had a lot of dirt on them. Once cleaned, you know my favorite method of chopping/getting-the-food-to-manageable-sizes. Yes indeedy, I pulled out my handy-dandy juicer and threw the stalks in.

In hind-sight, I would do things differently if I get more rhubarb. The stalks went through the juicer fast enough but several large chunks popped out of the juicing part and into the pulp catcher. I will throw the stalks in the freezer next time to give them a better solidity before using the juicer. I think I'll be much happier with the results.

As it was, I ended up with a funky-looking mass. I washed my hands and ran my fingers around to catch the big chunks that eluded the juicing process. You can see them on the counter next to the bowl.

One thing I noticed was the mixture was very fiber-y. I wasn't sure how this would effect the results of baking. After looking at several of the recipes from my neighbor, I decided I would try the rhubarb bread.

The recipe is:
1 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
2/3 Cup Oil
1 Egg
1 Cup Sour Milk (I used regular 2% milk.)
1 tsp Vanilla
2 1/2 Cup Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Soda
1 1/2 Cup Rhubarb (cut real fine)
Nuts (Optional)

1/2 C White Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 TBSP Margarine (melted)

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Makes two small loaves.

I poured the rhubarb mass into a measuring cup and ta-da! 3 Cups which means a double batch! It's a good thing you weren't in my kitchen to witness the happy dance. It was rather silly. :)

The kids and I measured, poured, stirred and generally had a blast working together again. I picked up a second mini-loaf pan at Walmart this week so I filled up both with the batter and put the remainder into mini-muffin pans.

The mini-loaves I cooked for 20 minutes. The mini-muffins cooked for 10 minutes. For this double batch, I spent about $3.00 on all the ingredients and I have 16 mini-loaves and 20 mini-muffins (after we ate our samples).

The only snafu I have right now with these is the taste. They turned out a little bland. I don't know if it is because of the type of rhubarb I used or if I should play with other recipes. I didn't make the topping because it's basically adding pure sugar. I'll whip some up tomorrow and see if it improves the taste.

My neighbor gave me the recipe for rhubarb cobbler. I plan on trying that next time I have rhubarb.

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