Slow Down and Break for Rhubarb

Yes, I have been neglecting my blog. I know that it seems as if I suddenly dropped off the face of the earth, but I have been working hard on a project. I wanted to finish illustrating several children’s stories that I wrote years ago so that I can get them printed and sent to Laney, my brave little two-year-old grandniece, who is in one tough battle with leukemia. She will soon undergo a bone marrow transplant and I wanted to get these books done before that.

So for the past several months I have been drawing and painting lots of orange lizards and farm pictures. I have two drawings to complete then the illustrations will be off to the printer to be scanned, so that I can format the books and send a digital file to the printer to be printed and bound.

There will be three new stories. “Chloe the Water-Lily Fairy Princess”, is about how Chloe goes in search of the best way to help her best friend, a mother bunny, get her busy, bouncing baby bunnies to go to bed at night. She discovers that the best way is to read to them.

“Hannah and the Evil Lizard of Nid”, is the next story and is about a great orange lizard who is terrorizing King Smid’s kingdom. This mean old lizard loves to throw tantrums, but meets his match when Hannah, who is only two, bests his temper fits with humor. Her weapon of choice—a feather, for the quill has always been mightier than the sword.

The last book I have been working on is called, “On Grandmother’s Knee”. This story takes place on a farm and is based on my relationship with my grandmother Esther. She may have had only a few years of formal schooling, but she was a great teacher. Her most important lessons were about the importance of faith. This story is about teaching a child to pray and includes my favorite bedtime prayer, “Jesus Tender Shepherd Hear Me.”

However, as disciplined as I have been to complete this project, it is rhubarb season here in Minnesota. Taking timeout is important and I thought today would be a good day to take a break from artwork and share a family recipe for fresh rhubarb cake. This spicy cake is super moist and is great served warm with vanilla ice cream or cool as a snack cake.

I hope you take a break to make this cake and don’t forget to stop and smell the spring flowers that are in bloom.

Fresh Rhubarb Cake

½ cup shortening
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs (beaten)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups finely diced fresh rhubarb
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg

Topping mixture:
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ cups chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9X13 cake pan.

In a small bowl dissolve soda in buttermilk, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl cream together, with an electric hand mixer, shortening and sugars. Add eggs to the shortening mixture and combine. Slowly add in flour, salt and spices alternatively with buttermilk/soda mixture. Mix well. Fold in rhubarb.

Pour batter into to the prepared 9 X13 cake pan. On top of the batter sprinkle the topping mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Note: If you do not have any buttermilk, before you start add a teaspoon of vinegar to a cup of regular milk and let it stand for about 10 minutes. This will sour your milk and can be substituted for the buttermilk.

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