Thursday, June 30, 2016

Iowa On A Plate- Girl Bonding Over Rhubarb

This is a post from City Girl Country Life, centering around rhubarb and social media. The blog City Girl Country Life is heading into retirement so many of the recipes originally shared there will make an appearance here over the next several months. This story was originally published in May, 2015.

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I get super excited in the springtime. Everything is turning green and growing, and around the lake, that means rhubarb! 

In the Midwest it seems like everyone's yard has a nice rhubarb patch. Certainly everyone's grandmother had a nice big spot in the yard and a folder stuffed full of recipes from generations of amazing home bakers. Rhubarb cakes, crisps, cobblers and so much more make up entire sections of church cookbooks. Bake sales surely include a rhubarb coffee cake or two. The first spring strawberries usually partnered up with rhubarb in a juicy delicious pie. So many wonderful food memories include rhubarb!

Rebecca's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
In spite of this rich history, modern palates seem to shy away from this perennial delight. Even though I see rhubarb in many modern recipes such as jams and sauces, many people I talk to "don't like it" and don't want to try the classic recipes. It's time we turn things around, and get this tart and sweet favorite back on the plate, folks. It practically grows itself, is relatively pest-free and is super easy to freeze for use throughout the year. Simply wash the stalks, chop or slice, freeze on a sheet pan until frozen and bag up in freezer bags. You can easily scoop out whatever you need to make something truly delicious, just like Gramma used to make.

Social media has replaced the backyard fence in today's world, and where I might have shared a recipe with a neighbor across the way years ago, these days we meet and get to know other cooks and recipe collectors through our social media networks and online groups. This is exactly how I got to know Rebecca Manship. In the Facebook group Iowa On a Plate she shared a picture of her Old Fashioned Rhubarb Cake and instantly, the connection between two women who love to bake and love rhubarb was made. Her cake looked delicious and so homey and the pile of fresh rhubarb on the table just screamed springtime.



Like so many wonderful cooks, Rebecca learned by watching and helping her mother. She tells me her mother loved cooking and baking, and I'm quite sure had a number of family favorites in her memory. Talking about the different foods we love to make Rebecca shared that she loves baking pies and zucchini breads and many other things- and, like me, she takes pictures of all her goodies as she bakes them! 

Rebecca's Rhubarb Cake

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or shortening
1 egg
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream 1 1/2 cups sugar and the butter or shortening until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients except the cinnamon and remaining sugar. Spread batter in greased baking pan. Combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the batter.


Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until the cake tests done with a toothpick.


This cake is delicious served warm with cream or vanilla ice cream. Rebecca's mom used to make this cake and she thinks the recipe came from her grandmother. I know one thing- as soon as the rhubarb is ready I will be making this cake!

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