Sunday, July 4, 2010


Rhubarb continues to be popular here at the Farm to Family Market, and we've had a couple local chefs come in to get some. We hope the pie-eaters at Sine were happy with their Rhubarb Pies. Chef Todd from Mezzanine and I had a great conversation about rhubarb earlier this week, and he wants to remind everyone that rhubarb is not just for pie, or crumble. He says be adventurous with it, and pair it with meat and poultry. (Watch here for some recipes from Chef Todd coming soon!)

After I wrote about the Rhubarb ice cream we made when I was a kid, Mom dug into the deep recesses of her brain and came up with this:

We always had home made, hand cranked ice cream at Christmas and the 4th of July. We haven't made it in years and I suppose most people don't use the old hand cranked freezers any more but the new methods surely don't taste as delicious and creamy.   I got out my old cookbook with the covers loose and pages tattered and spotted and found my ice cream recipe. The recipe is in the 1955 version of The Good Housekeeping Cookbook. ( note from Suzi -- hand crank ice cream is still popular! White Mountain crank freezers are available at the Blue Ridge Mountain Ice Cream Maker store. Maybe Mark will find one at a flea market someday soon. If you want non-dairy/vegan ice cream, try a recipe from Vegan Scoops)

Here's the ice-cream (Don't you have brain freeze thinking about it!)
This recipe is for a 2-qt freezer. Our old one was bigger so I made 1 1/2 times the recipe. Then we got a 6-qt freezer and I had to figure out the amounts all over again. Do your math so the recipe fits your freezer. You can add whatever kind of fruit you want, but we are having rhubarb ice cream here.

 1  1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbs. flour
few grains salt
2 eggs or 3 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

 1 1/2 -2 cups fruit

In double boiler, scald milk. Mix sugar, flour, and salt; stir in enough milk to make a smooth paste. Stir the paste back into the hot milk in the double boiler. Stir until thickened. Cook covered, 10 min. Beat eggs slightly stir in milk mixture; return to double boiler; cook 1 minute. Cool; add vanilla, cream and fruit. 

I would make some rhubarb sauce. The recipe is below. Drain it and add between 1 1/2 to 2 cups of drained rhubarb. Freeze in 2-gt. or larger crank freezer until difficult to turn, using 8 parts crushed ice to 1 part ice-cream salt.

To Ripen: When ice cream is firm, draw out water from freezer; wipe off and remove lid. Take out the dasher and give the kids spoons to scrape the ice cream off (this was our reward for all our hard work cranking away and my favorite memory - Suzi); plug opening in lid. Pack ice-cream mixture down; re-cover. Repack freezer as follows: If serving within 2 hours, use 1 qt. crushed ice to each 1 cup ice cream salt.; if holding ice cream longer, use 2 qt. ice to each 1 cup salt; cover with heavy cloth. Makes 1/1/4 qt.

You can see it's a lot of work. Johnny and Suzi would help Dad crank. With all that work, you can see why we got a bigger freezer. 

Add whatever fruit you want-- right now fresh peaches, nectarines, blueberries, blackberries, plums and apricots would be delicious. Strawberries and rhubarb are classic together. Adjust your sweetener according to the sweetness of your fruit, which can vary. You can also freeze fruit, even rhubarb. Just wash, cut and pack in some plastic bags then freeze. You will be able to enjoy wonderful fruit treats next winter and impress your family and friends.

One year at Christmas I added 1 1/2 cups of crushed raspberries that we had picked the previous summer and frozen, sweetened with 1/4 cup of sugar. It was delicious.

 Here's the rhubarb sauce recipe, which is tasty on its own. It would taste great on top of vanilla ice cream, or lemon, or mix it into Moogurt with some granola. You can use it as a sauce for meat and poultry.  Let me know how you end up using it. This is the sauce that keeps old folks young and active. My sister-in-law Marguerite who is 85 eats it every day, and still mows her lawn herself.

Rhubarb Sauce

4 cups rhubarb
1/3 cup orange juice (or you could use peach or apple cider)
3/4 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup local honey) adjust sweetness for the tartness of your rhubarb and your palate
1 tsp cinnamon

Cook until done.

 Canoe Trip Rhubarb Cake

Mom packed all the ingredients for this legendary cake in a pack basket and cooler and we paddled down the Oswegatchie River on a week long canoe trip.  Partway through, she pulled out her rhubarb, and whipped up this stellar treat like an Adirondack Martha Stewart using a reflector oven (here's some info from the Scouts, who also like to use them.) It was very exciting for my friends on the trip and I don't remember having any leftovers for the woodland creatures. 

It's an easy-peasy cake to make, not especially nutritious, but it is festive and nourishes your soul which is also important and can make up for white sugar on occasion. I've made it for rooftop parties on Manhattan's Avenue B and Southern potlucks in RVA and it wows them every time. The pan practically gets licked clean. I can remember watching 4 people scraping away at the pan with spoons at a 4th of July cookout.

5-6 cups raw rhubarb (cut in 1 inch piece 

1 box yellow or lemon cake mix *

 1 cup sugar

1 (3 oz.) pkg. strawberry or raspberry gelatin dessert  ** 

1 1/2 sticks melted butter

1 1/2 cup water

Put rhubarb in 9 X 13 inch baking pan. Mix sugar and jello. Sprinkle over rhubarb. Pour dry cake mix over rhubarb mixture. Pour water over all. Melt butter and pour over top. Do not mix! Bake 25 minutes at 325 degrees. Cool and serve.

* Use a gluten-free box cake for GF version. I like Gluten Free Pantry.

** Use vegan gelatin dessert like Natural Desserts Jel Dessert, and vegan "butter" like Earth Balance

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