Traverse City Record-Eagle

Food

March 28, 2013

Reap rewards of spring with rhubarb

Rhubarb finds its way into so many baked goods. It just adds a nice, tart taste to everything.

Mom baked with her homegrown rhubarb often, and she never had trouble growing rhubarb. If you want to start your own rhubarb patch, plant the rhubarb one year and then use it the second year.

I have always done this and always had good luck. You don’t use the rhubarb for a year so that you can give the plants time to develop strong roots.

I got my starts from a lady in church and just planted a whole row of them, and every year they get fuller and spread out more. I plant my rhubarb in full sun, because I don’t think the plants do as well in the shade.

A lot of times people will plant them right at the edge of their garden. We do this and also put horse manure around the plants in the spring, which seems to help them grow.

The rhubarb is one of the first goodies ready to be harvested in the spring, and this recipe is a great way to start using it.

Rhubarb Squares

Filling:

4 c. rhubarb cut into 1/4-inch pieces

2 c. water

1 c. granulated sugar

3 T. cornstarch

1/2 t. almond flavoring

Crust:

3/4 c. shortening, softened

1 c. packed brown sugar

1 t. baking soda

1 t. vanilla extract

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. quick-cooking rolled oats

1 t. ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch pan and set aside.

To make the filling: In a medium saucepan over low heat, cook the rhubarb, water and sugar until bubbling. Then add the cornstarch and stir until the cornstarch is mixed throughout and the mixture has thickened. Add the almond flavoring and stir. Keep on the stove over low heat.

To make the crust: In a large bowl, combine the shortening, sugar, baking soda, vanilla, flour, oats and cinnamon until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Take half of the crumbs and pat them into the bottom of the prepared pan. Remove the filling from the heat and pour over the bottom crust, spreading it evenly. Then crumble the remaining half of the crumbs evenly over the filling.

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