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Last week was pie, this week it’s cake!  This is my grandmother’s recipe

Nonnie’s Rhubarb Cake

½ c shortening

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs Mix well

Sift:            2 cups flour

½ teas. Salt

1 teas. Soda

Add alternately with

1 cup buttermilk (I used yogurt today, since I didn’t have any buttermilk)

Beat well and fold in rhubarb

Sprinkle over top of cake the following:

1 cup brown sugar

½ tsp cinnamon

Bake in a well greased and floured 9X 10 pan for 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees.

2 or 3 cups of rhubarb should be cut in length once then in pieces about an inch long.

(Today I also added a couple of cut up, sliced apricots, because I had them nearby- they made for a nice variation on this simple cake, which is almost like  a pineapple upside down cake recipe).

We always had this cake, and other simple homemade desserts when we were growing up.  We often froze quantities of rhubarb in the spring so we were able to make rhubarb cake all through the year.  But of course, it was always wonderful when it went right from your garden into the kitchen and into whatever you happened to be cooking.  We also took the fresh rhubarb stalks and dipped the ends in sugar, which was a very big treat for very small children.

I almost forgot to tell you.  I nearly destroyed this cake- after more than 30 years in the kitchen. The oven was at 300, instead of 350, so I turned up the heat to almost 400, on and off for about 5 minutes.  It survived pretty well, which says something about the recipe and not the baker.

The Native American students involved with the Dream of Wild Health Network recently held their last sale of the summer at Little Earth-  There was a wild summer storm that afternoon in Minneapolis, and we stood protected from the warm tempest… and admired the harvest.

Of course I made a few things right away – cold Borscht, coleslaw and icebox (cucumber) pickles.  When I was growing up in the prairie provinces in Canada, I had Russian and Ukrainian friends.  Borscht was and the famous pysanky, or Ukrainian Easter Eggs were very popular.

I gradually learned how to make borscht over a period of years, particularly after I spent some time in our hippie vegetarian collective with one of our head cooks, who was Ukrainian American.  She could make borscht; and she has a fund of family heirloom recipes with poppyseed.   Actually everything she cooked was quite amazing.  I keep my borscht simple – veggies sauteed lightly, seasoned with salt, pepper, bay leaf, caraway seed and a little dried dill- and lots of good fresh cabbage and shredded beets.  Caraway is very good for digestion and it tastes good.   I simmered everything in chicken stock and let it cool before taking an immersion blender to the whole soup pot (always remember to take the bay leaves out).  Chilled, in the summer, with a little yogurt or sour cream.  Some people have been known to put a suggestion of orange zest in borscht- and it’s tasty.

Cole slaw originates in Dutch language- the word for salad I believe.  I like my cole slaw simple, but I also added pineapple from a little can, as a tribute to country-church basement dinners.

The other two dishes that came out of this trip to the Native garden stand were cucumber ice-box pickles, and some skillet cooked summer squash.  The cuke pickles have maybe 6 ingredients in total: cukes, shavings of red onion, a bruised clove of garlic, vinegar, salt and a bit of sugar.  Mix a light pickle and keep the thinly sliced cukes in your fridge.  It’s very refreshing in the heat of summer.