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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.


I stopped at a few stores and located the following ingredients today.  I moved into a new apartment this past week- and I have a gas-stove again, so I am extremely happy (I can use my wok again!) (plus I got my piano back!!)

The ingredients are:  Morel mushrooms (they grow in the wild here in Minnesota- and elsewhere- in the spring); fiddleheads (the beautiful unfurled stems of the earliest ferns- but you have to know which ones are truly good to eat.  If you’re fortunate enough to have them during the 2 or so weeks they are available at your coop or natural food store- get them!!); and finally a fat rainbow trout.  Rolled in blue cornmeal.

Wait till you see the fiddleheads steaming

Today I steam them over med-high heat  in a heavy iron skillet.  I think they’re sort of iron-y.  They develop a very dark mineraly broth, which is restorative in the spring.  This should take about 7-10 min & I turn them.  No seasoning at all.  Remove them, wipe the pan with a paper towel & add 2 tsp olive oil, followed by a TABLESPOON of butter. Let it melt quickly and add a leaf of sage- fresh would be best.  Add pepper, but do not think of adding salt until everything is ready to serve.  Maybe you can do that with other mushrooms- Morels:  Don’t do that.

It is so much fun to pick them.  They grow in the wild, generally in early spring  near fallen oak trees, and gathering them requires a fair amount of work.  Then, they can be sandy, like leeks.  If you’re going to store them in your fridge, do so in a paper bag.  If you use them right away, brush gently and barely swoosh in a little water.

After only a couple minutes of turning in the olive oil and butter (yes, add some ground pepper too), add the fiddleheads, and continue to saute for another minute or two.  After that, simply turn off the heat.

I rolled the rainbow trout in blue cornmeal, lightly seasoned, and pan fried it in equal parts of bacon fat and butter.  Probably about 5 minutes on each side of a 1 pound fish.

How’s that for spring?  Trout, with sage flavored morel mushrooms and fiddleheads, steamed and doused with some butter.