Turning summer’s fresh fruit into a warm fall soup As the first day of Autumn has come and gone, I’m knee-deep in garden cleanup, preparing it for the long winter months ahead. Before removing the tomato plants from the garden, I picked the last tomatoes—the kings of the summer garden—and was inspired to make them into a warming fall soup to chase away the chill of the autumn air.
This version of tomato soup that I’m offering retains the tomato’s fresh flavor and will remind you more of a summer gazpacho, but it’s a warm, milk-enriched version that, when paired with good bread and a green salad, will be the star of a fall evening meal.
I started by washing the tomatoes and cutting off the stems. Then, I puree them in the food processor with no scalding water or peeling involved. I took two green and one red bell pepper from the garden and two small onions and processed these into a separate puree.
I covered the bottom of a stockpot with good olive oil and allowed it to heat before adding the pepper and onion puree. I sauteed this mixture for about five to eight minutes, constantly stirring to avoid burning. I then added the tomato puree and allowed it to come to a boil and finished it by turning the heat back to a simmer for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, I added whole milk until the bright red color turned to a golden orange, reminiscent of the turning autumn leaves, and reheated without allowing it to come back to the boil. Salt and black pepper to taste was all the seasoning required.
Fresh tomatoes, peppers, and onions combined with minimal processing, and a short cooking time allows the fresh tomato flavor to shine through, and wholesome milk adds a richness that helps warm the body and soul.
I hope you enjoy this rustic dish as much as I did, and I look forward to hearing from you about your fall activities in both the kitchen and the garden.
I stopped by an excellent produce farm this weekend and found a real gem here in the Kishacoquillas Valley. Streamside Produce is just one mile off of Route 655, east of Allensville, Pennsylvania. As I drove down the long farm lane, I could not help but notice field after field of all sorts of produce, thus assuring me that their goods are grown right here on the farm. Although the purchase of regional produce from other growers, either directly or through one of the many regional produce auctions, is an acceptable practice to fill the needs of the farm stand due to demand or perhaps crop failures, I prefer to buy product that has been grown on location whenever possible.
I found a large, well-run, and clean farm operation featuring many late-season favorites, including tomatoes, beets, and squash of all types, as well as fall mums and decorative gourds and pumpkins. I also found late-season sweet corn and the last of the watermelon and cantaloupe.
The Streamside Produce tables also offer local honey and farm-made jams and jellies, and you’ll find a quality line of farm-baked goods like dinner rolls, breads, sweet goods, and pies. I can personally attest that the egg custard pie was outstanding.
So, when you’re in the Belleville/Allensville area and want to buy grown-on-the-farm produce, plug 97 Streamside Lane, Belleville, into your GPS to visit Streamside Produce, one of many local fresh-food producers that make living in Central Pennsylvania a real joy.
As the pace of modern life has slowed to a crawl over the past week, my thoughts have turned often to those who are troubled and fearful due to a world that is and will be fundamentally changed. I have found that everyone is concerned for both the health of our fellow man and our economic life and how best to balance these two concerns during these trying times. And I continue to keep our leaders, health care workers, business owners, friends, family, and neighbors in my thoughts and prayers.
I encourage each of you during this time of imposed slow living to spend minimum time with traditional and social media and immerse yourself in positive activities that support self-sufficiency and positive mental health. Cooking, gardening, crafting, housekeeping, reading, spending time with family, walking, and enjoying nature all contribute to a simple life well lived and can form the basis for contentment and happiness in both good and troubled times.
In fact, I believe that within this dark cloud of uncertainty could very well lay the proverbial silver lining. That silver lining would be that we all take this time of pause to reevaluate what is important in our lives and begin to develop a well-lived life that embraces all that is positive in this modern world but is grounded in the simple activities of the past. This means a life lived within a seasonal perspective that is respectful of our natural world, providing each of us a renewed sense of happiness, self-sufficiency, and hope.
I want to share a recipe that is simple to make but is the basis for a wonderful meal that can be enjoyed alone or with family at home. The kitchen staff at Stonefly Café find this to be a very popular dinner feature served with a simple tomato pan sauce. I have changed up the sauce a bit to showcase the smokiness of the bacon and one of my favorite herbs—fresh rosemary.
I hope that you will enjoy this dish as much as I did when I prepared it for my lunch today.
Please feel free to share this post with all your home-bound friends and neighbors, and I look forward to your comments and suggestions.
All the best to you and yours.
Ricotta Dumplings in a Simple Pan Sauce
7 Ounces Ricotta
3 Egg Yolks (may have to kneed in a fourth yolk if you find the dough to be slightly dry)
1 ¼ Cup All-Purpose Flour
Additional Flour for dusting the board and hands
2 Tablespoons of freshly shredded Parmesan Cheese
1 Pinch of both Salt and Black Pepper
A generous sprinkle of freshly grated Nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix with your hands until the dough comes away from the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Move the dough to a floured board and kneed until it becomes smooth and supple. Cut the dough into approximately six pieces and roll each into a log shape on the floured board with each log of dough approximately ½ to ¾ inch in diameter. Cut each log with a knife into ½-inch sections. Dust the cut dumplings lightly with flour and layer on a platter until ready to cook. Do not forget to cover the cut dumplings with a damp dish towel or paper towel to assure that the dumplings do not dry out.
When the sauce is prepared, the dumplings should be added to a large pan of boiling salted water one at a time and stirred to assure that they do not clump together. When they float to the surface, allow to cook for a minute or two longer. Then, they can be added to the sauce.
3 Cloves of Fresh Garlic, peeled
1 Small Fresh Chili or a Pinch or Two of Dried Chili Flakes
2 Whole Anchovy Filets in Oil
1 Rasher of Bacon
6 to 8 Fresh Rosemary Leaves
1 6-Ounce can of Tomato Paste
1 28-Ounce can of Crushed Tomato
Parmesan Cheese for Grating
Pinch of both Salt and Black Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Place the garlic, chili, anchovies, salt, pepper, and rosemary with a tablespoon of olive oil in a mortar and pestle and grind into a paste. If you have no mortar and pestle, just finely chop all the ingredients on a board, excluding the olive oil.
In a sauté pan, add olive oil and the rasher of bacon finely chopped and allow to render the fat from the bacon. To this add the paste that you prepared in the mortar and pestle and allow to sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, being careful not to overcook and burn the garlic.
Add to the pan the tomato paste and the crushed tomato and allow to cook for 8 to 10 minutes. At this point, you may allow the sauce to sit off the heat until the dumplings are cooked.
Have the sauce simmering in the sauté pan, and when the dumplings have cooked, transfer the dumplings to the saucepan with a slotted spoon allowing some cooking water to be transferred to the sauce as well. Toss the dumplings in the sauce to coat, and if the sauce is a bit thick, just thin with a few spoons of dumpling cooking water.
Plate the dumplings and sauce and sprinkle fresh parmesan cheese over the top to your taste.
Garnish with a fresh spring of rosemary.
Yields two servings.
When combined with a fresh salad, crusty bread and butter, good cheese, fresh fruit, and wine of your choosing, the perfect dinner or lunch is at hand.
The kitchen fire crackled away this morning as I lingered
over both a cup of coffee and my plans for this week’s kitchen activities. The
cooler weather, along with the root vegetables and cold-weather greens I found
at the farm stand, has inspired me to enjoy more stews and soups on my table,
and this morning’s planning included how to do just that.
The Thanksgiving celebration also adds to my larder the
inevitable treasure of leftovers that I plan to make into one of my favorites—a
hearty turkey soup. Not only is homemade turkey soup delicious, but it is, I
believe, a great example of how the soup pot is the foundation of a well-run
kitchen. I’ll use the soup pot to take full advantage of the farm root crops
and greens and the remains of the holiday leftovers to turn all into a nice,
hot soup that will soothe my soul and my frugal nature.
The first step, after the celebratory Thanksgiving meal, requires
me to make sure all the leftover turkey and any soup-worth vegetables are
packed away. The next step is to pick any remaining meat from the turkey
carcass and add that to our supply of leftovers. Don’t forget to reserve any
pan drippings and/or broth from roasting the turkey, as these can all be used
in the soup as well.
I then take the entire carcass and place it in a stockpot
with a single onion cut in half, two carrots peeled and cut in half, and one
stalk of celery cut in half. I do not take a lot of time preparing these
vegetables as I am using them only to flavor the broth and will not be using
them in the final soup. Cover the contents of the pot with water, and when this
has come to a boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about two to three
When the pot of broth has finished its three-hour simmer on
the stovetop, allow it to cool, and strain through a colander to remove the
vegetables and turkey carcass. The remaining broth will be a rich and nutritious
base for this savory soup.
Now, with the broth completed, we can move on to the actual
preparation of the soup. I begin with two onions, four stalks of celery, and four
carrots that I clean and chop into bite-size pieces. These vegetables can be
sautéed in a preheated soup pot with a little olive oil until just starting to
soften. At this time, I add my turkey meat that has been chopped into bite-size
pieces, any vegetables left from the holiday celebration, and the farm stand produce,
which can include sweet potatoes, chard, spinach, turnips, carrots, and kale.
Also, frozen or canned corn is always a welcome addition.
I now add the broth and any saved pan drippings from the
roasting of the turkey, and bring the pot to a simmer. At this time, you can
add pasta, egg noodles, rice, barley, or lentils to enhance the already
flavorful and rustic soup.
I would suggest enjoying a bowl right out of the pot before
saving a couple of servings in the refrigerator for later in the week or for
lunches and before freezing the rest. This great soup is perfect for dinner by
the fireside or for a quick, hot, savory meal that will be required to get you
through December’s holiday preparations.
cool days of autumn have inspired me to fill my pantry to the brim in
anticipation of the coming holiday and winter season. My most recent endeavor is
an old Italian specialty that is easy to make and is a great addition to the
daily table. It’s also the basis for some special treats to share with friends
and family as we gather by the fireside to while away the dark days of winter.
Cotto, or cooked must, is an age-old condiment that, in its simplest form, is
the fresh-pressed juice, or must, of the grapes obtained during the wine-making
process. The must has been allowed to simmer at the back of the stove as it
reduces to one third its original volume. Although thick, syrupy, and sweet,
much like a grape preserve, the real magic begins when you fill swing-top bottles
and store them away in a dark, cool cellar or at the back of a pantry for weeks,
months, or even years. During this aging period, the thickened juice builds character
and complexity that can be filled with—depending on the variety of grapes you’re
working with—the flavors of figs, currants, cherries, raisins, or spice. This
is very similar to balsamic vinegar, as the cooked must is the basis of this well-known
condiment as well.
can use this treasure of the pantry as a traditional sweetener when combined
with honey or drizzled over cheese and meats as part of a rustic charcuterie
display. Also, try topping off a dessert, or use it as the basis for a flavor-enhancing
sauce for both meat or fish dishes.
would anticipate the most challenging part of making the Mosto Cotto will be sourcing
the juice or must. You could press your own grapes with a home wine press or a
simple potato masher. In addition to this process, a simple request of a local
winemaker will most likely result in one’s ability to obtain the juice as well.
Remember, this is the fresh unfermented juice of the grape and will often
include the stems and seeds that can be strain from the juice either before
processing or after cooking.
place the juice on the stove to simmer away for a few hours until it reduces by
at least one-half to two-thirds and has become syrupy and has a cooked aroma.
Place the reduced must into sterilized glass jars. (I prefer the swing-top variety.)
Store in a dark, cool location for at least a few weeks to a month. Remember,
as in many things, patience is a virtue, and the longer you allow the Mosto
Cotto to age, the more robust and complex this elixir becomes.
A well-stocked pantry is an essential element of a simple life well lived and the basis for kitchen success. Add this simple, historic, and made-it-yourself condiment to your pantry to share with friends and family or when you savor a few private minutes away from the worries of the world.
The sound of rain woke me from my slumber this Labor Day morning, and as I had my breakfast on the porch to the soothing sound of rain, my thoughts turned to the garden. The showers of last evening and this morning will help nurture the garden throughout late summer and early fall, providing us with many more weeks of a bountiful harvest.
Labor Day weekend has traditionally been thought of as the last of the summer
season. But I believe that here in Pennsylvania and throughout the Mid-Atlantic
region that the beginning of fall does not begin for a few more weeks. In fact,
I consider the month of September a period of late summer with the gardens and
markets continuing to offer up the quintessential garden treats that one
associates with summertime itself. Tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, and peppers
are abundant. And although not falling out of every farm stand and roadside
wagon, sweet corn will be available throughout the next few weeks as well if
one takes the time to search it out.
humans like to define and relegate our lives within strict schedules and
agendas. Although this approach supports our busy lives and careers, it is not
the perspective of the natural world. Nature, on the other hand, has a more casual
approach to the rhythmic and seasonal passage of time. And if one can integrate
their modern lives into this natural progression, I would expect one will find
a certain fulfillment and enhanced level of peace within this journey we call
life. A simple life well lived is based on this rhythmic passage of time. So, I
would suggest not to rush it, but to enjoy what the late summer season has to
you will find two great recipes to help you enjoy the late summer seasonal bounty.
The first is a very French-style Rustic Gratin that will allow you to enjoy the
full seasonal flavors of summer and fall. Also, a Summer Corn and Tomato Salad,
adapted from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, features sweet corn and sun-ripened
tomatoes dressed with a simple vinaigrette that allows the true flavor of these
simple garden ingredients to shine.
hope you enjoy both, and let me know which is your favorite. I hope that you
and yours will join me as I savor these last few weeks of summer, the warm days
and cool nights, and the best of summer flavors as we look forward to the cool
days of fall and the upcoming holidays that define the year’s end.
recipe is one that outlines a simple process and allows for flexibility within
the context of ingredients. Please feel free to use any or all the following
suggested ingredients that you may have on hand, although I believe fresh
tomatoes and onions are a must.
(White, Yellow, or Red)
Seasonal Herbs (Parsley and Basil are particularly good)
Good Quality Cheese or Two
and Black Pepper
all vegetable approximately a quarter inch in thickness.
a baking dish and, starting with onions, alternate layers of vegetables with layers
of cheese, and remember to season each layer with salt, pepper, garlic, and
herbs. Finish with a thick layer of cheese.
covered in a 350-degree oven until a knife will easily slide through the layers,
and then uncover and continue to bake until the top is golden brown and the
gratin is bubbling.
to rest for approximately 20 minutes before serving.
gratin, served with good wine and perhaps some fresh seasonal fruits, makes the
perfect summer meal.
and Tomato Salad
Shucked Ears of Sweet Corn
Cup Small Dice Red Onion
Cup Cherry Tomato’s Halves
Cup Chiffonade (Thinly Sliced) Fresh Basil
Cup Cider Vinegar
Cup Olive Oil
Tablespoon Black Peppers
the corn until tender. Cool, and cut the kernels from the cob.
the corn, tomatoes, onions, and basil.
the dressing ingredients together, and dress the salad 15 minutes prior to
the heat and humidity of summer settle over the landscape, the vivid red of sun-ripened
tomatoes begins to peek out from among the green tangle of vines. And, in my
opinion, the greatest season of the year is upon us. Tomatoes ripened by the
summer sun are a gift, and one must do everything required to enjoy this short
but prolific seasonal delicacy. In addition to enjoying fresh tomatoes in
sandwiches, salads, and the all-American BLT, you can also capture this seasonal
flavor through canning. It’s a way to preserve a small but glorious bit of
summer’s essence after the season passes.
My tomato preservation and canning adventures from past years have included spaghetti sauce, whole peeled, and juice. This year, I was inspired to try a recipe that I found in Honey from A Weed, the culinary cult classic penned by Patience Gray during the middle years of the twentieth century. Ms. Gray, an Englishwoman, spent her life defining not only the path of women within the workforce and single motherhood, but also identifying and establishing many of today’s culinary trends, like seasonal cooking, fresh whole foods, and elements of the farm-to-table and slow food movements. This book recounts her life living and cooking in the Mediterranean, specifically Greece and the southern part of Italy. Patience not only weaves a wonderful story of her life and culinary experiences but also documents many simple and ancient recipes and techniques that support a close-to-the-earth lifestyle.
Home-made bread rubbed with garlic and sprinkled with olive oil, shared – with a flask of wine – between working people, can be more convivial than any feast.
old-world approach toward tomato preservation intrigued me, and I was not
disappointed by the simple technique and the unbelievable results that it
produced. Once again, quality ingredients combined with a simple approach and
light hand within the context of the process results in a product that satisfies
and contributes to the joy of living a good life.
have outlined below my slight adaptation of the original recipe as recorded by
Patience but believe the results will not disappoint.
½ bushel of very ripe plum tomatoes. Wash them thoroughly in cool water, and
place whole in a large stockpot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and cook
until the tomatoes are soft; then cool.
cool, process the cooked tomatoes to remove the seeds and skins; this will
produce a rather thin, pulpy tomato puree. I use a commercially available
tomato processing device, but a food mill or chinois could work just as well.
and sterilize glass canning jars, and place into each a slice of onion and a sprig
of garden-fresh basil. Bring the processed tomato puree to a boil, and ladle
into your prepared canning jars, leaving appropriate headspace. Wipe clean the
rim to assure a good seal.
the filled and capped jars to the specification required of your canning approach—either
water bath or pressure canner. Many online and print resources are available to
aid you with processing times for both methods.
½ bushel of plum tomatoes produces approximately 6 quarts of a very fine
quality tomato product that will become a pantry staple and the basis for many a
delightful sauce, soup, or casserole.
the warm, sunny days of summer fade into the cool days of fall and dismal days
of winter, you can open your pantry door for a little reminder of the summer
past, its goodness, and the promise of spring to come.
slightly cool summer morning recently found me in the garden at Cow Hill Cottage
checking on the progress of the forthcoming bean crop as well as keeping the
weeds at bay. The quality of the light and sounds and aromas that surrounded me
transported me back to my childhood and memories of my maternal grandmother “Nan”
as she was known to her grandchildren.
talented farm wife, mother, and cook, Nan’s home was always open to welcome one
and all, and her kitchen was never found to be bare of some delicious offering.
This particular summer morning my thoughts were drawn to memories of Nan’s Cherry
Pudding made with ripe sour cherries and served with milk and sugar, which was my
grandfather’s approach to most desserts, including fruit-filled Jell-O, if you can
Cherry Pudding recipe was passed down through her family—the Kellys—hailing
from the Walnut, Nook, and Half Moon areas of Juniata County. Although I have
found that the tradition of Cherry Pudding and other fruit-filled puddings to be
commonplace within Central Pennsylvania, my real surprise is the origin of the
recipe—a French recipe—that I came upon while researching desserts for my original
restaurant some years ago.
simple recipe that follows is a part of the food tradition of the former Limousin
region of France. Known for its rich farming history and a variety of oak harvested
from its bucolic forests that is used to make barrels for the aging of brandy, Limousin
is located in the south-central area of France, and its Clafoutis (Kla-foo-TEE)
has been a classic dessert of the region for hundreds of years.
insist that a true Clafoutis is made from only cherries—and un-pitted ones at
that—as they believe the pits impart an improved cherry flavor throughout the
dessert. The dessert is traditionally served warm with a generous sprinkle of
powdered sugar over the top as the pudding is removed from the oven. Although similar
desserts are made with other fresh summer fruits, the proud people of Limousin
would consider these non-cherry varieties to be a Flaugnarde (a baked French dessert resembling a large pancake)
and not a true Clafoutis.
No matter what you call it, or if you subscribe to
the pitted or un-pitted cherries, I believe you will agree that it is a perfect
summer dessert and one of the many pleasures in a simple life well lived.
I have shared two recipes below for your enjoyment.
The first is my family’s Cherry Pudding, and the second is a traditional
Clafoutis. Please feel free to add to this culinary story with your comments and
Tablespoon Melted Shortening
Teaspoon Baking Soda
Quart Pitted Sour Cherries or Other Fruit of Your Choice
butter to grease the baking dish.
all ingredients and pour into a well-greased baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for
30 to 40 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the pudding comes out clean.
with powdered sugar or sugar and milk.
1 Pound of Cherries
½ Cup Sugar
1 Cup Flour
4 Tablespoons Butter,
1 Pinch Salt
1 Cup Milk
2 Tablespoons Butter (to
grease the pan)
3 Tablespoons Sugar (for
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Remove the cherry
Grease a round 10-inch
pan with butter and arrange the cherries.
In a bowl, cream the sugar and eggs. Then add the flour and salt. Stir in
melted butter. Then pour the milk and stir to obtain a light and smooth dough.
Pour the mixture over the cherries.
Bake the Clafoutis for 40 minutes.
Sprinkle with sugar as
you take the Clafoutis out of the oven.
Today, I spent some time talking with Loren Kauffman, a neighbor who has recently introduced a new business to our community. The Reedsville Creamery has been a dream of Loren’s for some time, and over the past year or so, he and his family have completed the legwork required to begin pasteurizing and processing whole milk products at his family farm. You can buy white, chocolate, and strawberry flavors from local retailers, markets, and grocery stores throughout Central Pennsylvania as well as right on the farm at the farm store.
raw milk comes from his father’s herd of cattle located approximately 50 feet
from the creamery’s processing facility resulting in a quality and freshness
that is hard to reproduce by other suppliers. His micro-processing facility
bottles approximately 300 gallons of milk per day in old-fashioned returnable
and sustainable glass pint, quart, and half gallon bottles.
creamery’s milk is pasteurized, but is not homogenized, resulting in a heavy
layer of cream that floats in the neck of each bottle, providing a blast from
the past for those of a certain maturity and a great new experience for the
less experienced. This layer of cream can be used for cooking, baking, or as the
perfect coffee creamer. For those of you who are not interested in using the
cream on its own, a simple shake of the bottle before each pour will result in
a superior product that I would wager is better than any milk you have ever tasted.
shared with me that the federal regulatory process to assure quality and purity
of product is stringent, requiring a daily, weekly, and quarterly inspection
process. He finds the regulatory aspect to be less intimidating than his early
expectations. In fact, he believes the process, as well as the advice that the inspection
personnel have provided throughout the development and start-up period, has been
very valuable and has assisted Loren with providing an enhanced product to his
customers and one that he is very proud of.
The Reedsville Creamery has plans for growth and product expansion to include ice cream, 2% milk, skim milk, and heavy cream. My favorite part of Loren’s expansion dream is to take his distribution into other regional communities using a nontraditional approach to business growth that will focus on the development of micro-processing facilities within each region, thus maintaining a local perspective and the use of local raw milk.
I have begun to use Reedsville Creamery milk not only at Cow Hill Cottage but also at Stonefly Café http://stoneflycafe.com. My staff appreciates the high quality of the product, and I am inspired by Loren’s dream of quality local dairy products that have previously been unavailable to me even though I live within a farming community with a rich history of dairy farming.
hope that with Reedsville Creamery’s and other local food purveyor’s success, others
will follow, and a diverse and robust local food community will develop in
support of a simple life well lived.
Did you know?
Whole milk has only 3.5% milk fat, making it 96.5% fat-free.
A cow produces an average of 6.3 gallons of milk daily, which is 2, 300 gallons each year, and 350,000 glasses of milk in a lifetime.
The greatest amount of milk produced in one year was 59,298 pounds by a Holstein cow named Robthom Sue Paddy.
past week I spent a good amount of time traveling the byways of Central Pennsylvania
as I enjoyed a week of vacation in pursuit of one of my many interests—fly
I fished a few days in the northern tier of the Commonwealth on the Pine Creek and its tributaries, Slate Run, Little Pine, and Cedar Run. During the latter part of the week, Scott Bubb, the Winemaker at Seven Mountains Wine Cellars, and I whiled away the warm spring days fishing the famous Penns Creek.
my travels to and from various fishing locations, I could not but notice the
proliferation of rhubarb tucked at the edge of almost every garden that I passed.
In fact, I would venture to guess that rhubarb may be one of the most popular
garden plants in Pennsylvania. I myself have a large plot of it in the corner
of the kitchen garden at Cow Hill Cottage.
has a storied history. It’s an actual lesson in human history itself within the
context of mythology, natural healing, and culinary culture. First documented
as a medicinal plant in China as early as 2700 BC with the root used as a
laxative, it traveled via the silk road into Europe and eventually to the
British Isles. Also, one cannot exclude from this discussion the view of the
early Persian Culture that the human race itself sprung from the lowly rhubarb
a culinary point of view, rhubarb has a long tradition of being the basis for
many a sweet dish, with Strawberry Rhubarb Pie and Stewed Rhubarb being two of
the most common. But from an Eastern European point of view, it was often
paired with meats and other savory dishes. In fact, the tradition of its use in
sweet desserts is so ingrained in the American culture that the United States
changed rhubarb’s classification from a vegetable to a fruit in the late 1940s.
Stonefly Café, we feature local rhubarb as a unique wine produced by Seven
Mountains Wine Cellars, and it’s the basis for our Rhubarb House Churned Ice
Cream and Rhubarb Cream Brulé.
those of you who want to add this storied perennial to your garden, I give you the
following basic cultivation and harvest tips:
to plant. Choose a variety that suits your climate. Ask a
knowledgeable person at your local garden center or greenhouse for the best
local varieties. Or, follow the long-held tradition of sharing planting
materials, and ask a neighbor or fellow gardener to allow you to have a start
from their plot.
to plant. You can plant rhubarb crowns in early spring or in the
fall when the roots are dormant.
to plant. Rhubarb grows best in climates where the ground freezes
during the winter. It likes full sun and well-drained soil. Allow adequate room
when planting as rhubarb plants can measure up to 4 feet wide and tall.
to plant. Prepare a large hole, about the size of a bushel basket,
and fill almost to the top with rich compost or rotted manure. Place the crown
in the center and cover with 1 to 2 inches of manure and compost. Mulch with 2
inches thick of straw, compost, or shredded bark.
to maintain. Give the plants lots of water, as this is key to producing
tender stalks. Apply a generous layer of manure around the plants annually to
assure a bountiful harvest, and maintain a good mulch around the base. Dig and
split the rhubarb roots every five or so years while the plants are dormant in
early spring or fall.
to harvest. Give rhubarb one growing season to establish, and then
begin harvesting in the second year. Once the stalks are 12 to 18 inches long,
cut at the base. Leave at least half the stalks on the plant each time so they
continue to add growth. The typical harvest period is 8 to 10 weeks from April
favorite rhubarb cake recipe follows, along with several tempting toppings.
What’s your favorite rhubarb recipe?
2 tsp Soft Butter
1 Cup Sugar
2 Cup Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt
1 Cup Buttermilk
2 Cup Rough Chop Rhubarb
¼ Cup Flour
¼ Cup Sugar
2 tbsp Melted Butter
½ Cup Butter
¾ Cup Sugar
½ Cup Evaporated Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Cream Butter and Sugar
Beat in the Egg
Add remainder of dry cake ingredients
Add the Buttermilk
Fold in the chopped Rhubarb
Fill a well-greased 9-inch square cake pan.
Combine streusel topping ingredients and sprinkle over cake batter in pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 to 45 minutes.
Vanilla Sauce: Combine
the Butter, Sugar, and Evaporated Milk and bring to a boil, cooking and
stirring 2 to 3 minutes until thick.