Monday, July 19, 2010

Rhubarb Cake

Growing up, we had 3 enormous rhubarb plants behind one of our sheds.  They were monsters.  I think the reason they grew so well is because they were situated quite near our old outhouse (typed with a snicker and sick little smile).  I lived in a very old German settlement house, square nails and all, in foothills of Mt. Hood until I was 6 years old.  No heat except for a wood stove, no real insulation and no bathrooms.  It was home.  As a youngster, I didn't realize this wasn't the norm, although for the times, in some parts of the country this was probably very normal, just not for our area.  Dad and Mom saved and built a new ranch style home right next to the "old house".  It took a few years, Dad did a great deal of the work himself.  He paid as he went, bartered for services and never incurred any debt, an amazing feat. When the house was finished we stepped into a new home and a new century, rhetorically speaking.
 (You can see the edge of the 'old house' on the left)
 While our lives changed that day, the basics of the family did not.  I am grateful.  My dad continued to hold down a full time job while tending the farm.  Hereford cattle always, accompanied by stints of chickens, pigs, goats, and a Shetland pony named Silver, all who passed through the doors of our big ol' barn.  We had a big garden and ate like kings all summer long.  How Dad managed it all, I'll never know.  He's my super hero.

One of the best parts of the summer garden for me was when the rhubarb was ready.  Mom would make rhubarb sauce and I could hardly wait to dive into the sweet pink concoction.   Another recipe she would make was my Grandma's rhubarb cake, though I'm sure it's a recipe that floated around the community.
After a couple years of hits and (mostly) misses I finally have a couple rhubarb plants in the back yard that are doing well.  Guess what's on my agenda?

Babe's Rhubarb Cake

Items needed:
9x13" pan, ungreased

Fill pan 3/4 full of sliced (1/4"-1/2" thick) rhubarb mixed with 2 cups sugar and a little cinnamon, to taste.
Add 1/2 c. water to the pan.
Sprinkle 1 full box regular size box DRY white or yellow cake mix over top of rhubarb.
Drizzle 1 c. melted butter over top of cake mix. (Now we know why it's good...)
Optional:  Nuts or coconut can be sprinkled over cake mix.  If coconut is used, add 1/2 way though baking.
Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until done.
(Ignore the mess around the edges of the pan, please!  When I took it out of the oven and sat it on the stove it nearly slid off onto the floor!!  Thank goodness for quick reflexes and an apron to keep me from getting burned!  Yike!)

My mom's notes:  It took about 6 cups or 20 stalks rhubarb to fill pan 3/4 full.  (I found this to be about right)
**This cake can also be made with fresh prunes.  It takes about 36.  If prunes are used, omit water except for a few drops.  (I have never tried this, but grew up with lots of prune trees in the yard...figures mom gave it a go!)

My Notes:  I used an 8x8" pan and cut this recipe in half.

Hope you enjoy this cake, it's simple with not many ingredients.   I have 2 or 3 others that are quite similar that I'd like to try.  Maybe I'll do an analysis on which one is my favorite when I'm done.  Won't happen right now though, still "suppose" to be eating healthy.  Bummer....
...And don't be afraid of Rhubarb!  So what if it's green...and pink.  Once sugared up it's wonderful!!!!

I'm hoping to add a photo of "the old house" to this post soon.  I think my sister may have one, if's time to sweet talk my bro into some scanning duty.  He'll love it.  Yes, he will...
Off to rummage through old photos...

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