Monday, 30 May 2011

Hooray for Rhubarb!

 My dear mother Beatrice Vegso (1927-2010) lived a full life.   She was born on May 31.  She was active in her church’s ‘Women’s Auxiliary’ until she was in her late 70’s.  She belonged to the Lynnville Women’s Institute for many years and contributed to their cookbooks. If you were to ask anyone what their thoughts were of my Mother they would say, “Very kind, a good friend and a great cook”.  

Now that it is Spring I can still picture her cutting rhubarb stems.  In fact the last time I saw her alive she sent me home with a big bag that I froze.  I couldn’t eat that rhubarb for a long time.  It was as if I ate it she would be gone forever.  Crazy eh?  Anyway my Mom loved rhubarb.  She liked it stewed and mashed together with fresh strawberries, used in rhubarb cake and in her ‘infamous’ rhubarb pie.
Rhubarb is considered as a fruit.  But, in fact it is the leaf stem of the rhubarb plant.  Their stems can grow between 10-14 inches and ½ to 1 inch in diameter. Its colour can vary from pale pink to red.  When using rhubarb in a recipe you need to remove and discard its leaves as they contain oxalic acid which is very poisonous. Rhubarb when grown naturally is available in late Spring to early Summer.

I grew up on an idyllic hobby farm.  When I was a kid my friends and I used to pick a stalk of fresh rhubarb and dip it into a palm full of white sugar.  Those were the days!

My Mom’s Rhubarb Cake
1 egg
1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. raw rhubarb                                             
1 1/2 c. white sugar
1c.sour milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Mix like other cakes and add rhubarb last.  Sprinkle top with 1/2cup sugar and 2tsp. cinnamon that have been mixed together.  Bake 45-50 minutes depending on your oven or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Sweet and simple!
To freeze rhubarb I just wash it cut it up into 1inch pieces and put it into plastic zip lock bags.  
It’s useful to have and in a pinch you can make it into a delicious dessert.  Another refreshing way to use rhubarb is to make it into an ice cold tea.   The following recipe is a good one. Cold Rhubarb Tea by Charlie Burke
Enjoy rhubarb it is nutritious for you and it is in season now!

 For a long time I didn’t know what I should do regarding a donation or how to make sure that Mom’s memory lived on in a meaningful way.  I know that she would be very pleased that I have chosen Nature Canada the Bird Conservation Project. It is a great cause.  It may be a way that you would like to remember a loved one.

In the beauty of nature lies the spirit of hope. Unknown author


Anonymous said...

Love the blog about your mom and I printed the recipe to try - it sounds delicious!

JockLeith said...

Reminds me of my childhood too as we had a huge rhubarb patch in the back of our garden in Toronto. I couldn't wait to get that first tangy taste of rhubarb each year and begged my Mom to make a rhubarb pie.

Ingrid said...

Beautiful memorny of your beautiful Mom!