Rhubarb is Making a Comeback
Rhubarb is making a comeback. As it is with many things, what was old is now new again. My rhubarb patch, behind the shed and next to the mulch pile, started as a gift of two small bunches from the CEO of a company I use to work for. He would bring cut rhubarb in to share and one spring he asked if anyone wanted some plants. I said, “Yes sir!” I felt like I’d been handed a treasure.
Before I had my own patch, I would swipe rhubarb from the backyard of the house next door. No one was living there so I reasoned no one would care. When the house was sold I made a bargain with the new owners; they would let me pick the rhubarb in exchange for loaves of rhubarb bread.
Rhubarb can be harvested three or four times a year; from the first picking in late spring right through until frost. To prevent the rhubarb plants from maturing and dying down for the season, the tall flower spike that sprouts up mid-summer needs to be cut off at its base.
Freezing rhubarb for baking in the winter is easy. First remove the leaves, cutting down the stem two inches. Add them to your mulch pile then wash the stems. Cut out any bad spots then slice the stems into half-inch long pieces. The wider stems should be cut in two lengthwise, down the middle before slicing.
Spread out the chunks of rhubarb on cookie sheets and place in the freezer. Spreading the pieces out prevents the rhubarb from clumping together and makes it easier to measure later. Once the rhubarb is frozen, scoop the pieces into zip-style plastic bags.
Recently, I came across this recipe for Rhubarb Dream Bars that was in an Amish cookbook I bought at a rummage sale. The recipe didn’t call for a glaze but, after they were done baking, I thought they looked a little plain so I added one.
RHUBARB DREAM BARS
2 cups flour ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup butter
Combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter until crumbs form. Line a 15x10x1 inch jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. This will make it easy to remove the cookies from the pan. Press flour mixture onto the foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. While crust is baking, prepare filling.
4 eggs ½ teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar 4 cups diced rhubarb,
½ cup flour frozen or fresh
Blend eggs, sugar, flour and salt until smooth. Fold in rhubarb and spread mixture over hot crust. Bake 40 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees, until filling is lightly browned. Cool slightly and drizzle with glaze.
1 cup confectioners’ sugar 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
Mix confectioners’ sugar with almond extract and just enough milk to make a glaze to drizzle over cookies.
Cool cookies completely then cut into squares or bars before lifting from pan. A pizza cutter works well. Once cookies are cut, they are easy to lift or peel off the aluminum foil.