Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Speaking of Rhubarb...

As I mentioned in my previous post, rhubarb takes on a whole new meaning in Washington State, where its season doesn't line up with strawberries. If you've been tempted by those lovely ruby stalks and have already given the Rhubarb Sauce recipe a go, I've got another one for you: Aunt Hazel's Rhubarb Cake. This one comes from Mildred Armstrong Kalish's memoir Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression. Despite having read the book, I have no idea what she means by "red sugar," unless she means the stuff we sprinkle on sugar cookies at Christmas. I substituted standard white sugar with no ill effects.

Aunt Hazel's Rhubarb Cake
1 ½ cups red sugar (or white)
½ cup shortening (I haven't tried substituting butter or oil. Used Spectrum Organic's non-hydrogenated shortening)
1 scant teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
3 cups rhubarb, chopped and mixed with ¼- cup red sugar (about three large stalks)

Topping: Mix together cup sugar, cup nuts (I used chopped pecans and would probably up it to 1/2 cup), 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine dry ingredients and sift. Separately, combine buttermilk with beaten egg. Mix together dry and wet ingredients. Now add the chopped and sugared rhubarb. Pour into a lightly greased and floured pan, and then gently add topping.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. 

This coffee cake was a big hit at a brunch I had recently. Seems like people are always looking for a way to use up rhubarb!

While we're on the subject of produce, the Environmental Working Group has put out its annual list of the most- and least-pesticide-laden produce. Another reason to buy at our farmers market. I also tend to be leery of "organic" produce coming from overseas, where standards and oversight might not be as strict as in the United States. Without further ado:

Dirty Dozen 2011
  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes (imported)
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries (domestic)
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/collard greens
And the winners:

Clean Fifteen 2011
  1. Onions
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplants
  9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms
See you all at the Market. Thursday 3-7, parking lot of the First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue, and Saturday 10-3, parking lot of the First Congregational Church.

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