Art is the Handmaid of Human Good

Life in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA

Guess what’s in season right now…


One of my absolute favorite vegetables…


Rhubarb!  And I’ve definitely been on a kick – the latter part of May 2009 will forever be known as Rhubarb-palooza.

It all started when I went to Ye Olde Quiet Corner to dog-sit for my friend Oakley…


While we were playing fetch, I noticed that Nance had a bunch of rhubarb growing in the yard. She also has a stand mixer. (Something I am sad to say I do not own – yet.) There was only one thing for me to do…

Big Crumb Coffee Cake

Make coffee cake!

Big Crumb Coffee Cake
Recipe courtesy of the New York Times, via Smitten Kitchen

Butter for greasing pan


  • 1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger


  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour


  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

To make crumbs, in a large bowl, whisk together sugars, spices, salt and butter until smooth. Stir in flour with a spatula. It will look like a solid dough.

To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.

Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.

Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

This recipe was incredibly economical – I was at Nance’s house and used her ingredients 😉

Rhubarb-Lentil Soup

When I left CT, I forgot to take some rhubarb with me – curses!  BUT I knew I’d be seeing Nance the next weekend so I asked her to bring me a pound.  She said “I will, but I’m not going to weigh it.”, and that worked to my advantage – I got at least five pounds of the tasty stalks!

I started surfing the internets to find some new recipes (because there’s only so much coffee cake and pie for one girl to eat) and I stumbled across a recipe for Rhubarb-Lentil Soup.  I’ll be honest, my first reaction was “What the heck?” because rhubarb, in my formerly closed mind, was a vegetable best suited to sweet preparations like pie, coffee cake an jam.  But I like rhubarb, I like lentils and I really like Deborah Madison so I decided to take a chance.  I was not disappointed.  Not at all.  In fact, I was elated.  This is the best lentil soup I’ve ever eaten – so good.

How could something that starts with this be bad?

Rhubarb-Lentil Soup

It can’t.

Rhubarb-Lentil Soup with Crème Fraîche Dilled Sour Cream (I am on a budget, after all)
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Soaking the lentils in hot water helps them cook a bit more quickly when they’re added to the soup. Because of rhubarb’s likeness to the tangy herb sorrel, this dish plays off classic lentil-sorrel soup.

  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 3/4 cup dried petite green lentils
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups finely chopped carrot
  • 1 3/4 cups finely chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb (about 12 ounces)
  • 4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 6 tablespoons crème fraîche sour cream
  • Dill sprigs (optional required)

Pour 1 1/2 cups boiling water over lentils in a small bowl; let stand 10 minutes.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add carrot, celery, onion, and parsley to pan; sauté for 4 minutes. Add rhubarb, and sauté for 3 minutes. Drain lentils, and add lentils to pan. Stir in broth and salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Remove from heat; let cool 5 minutes. Place 3 cups lentil mixture in a blender or food processor (or just use an immersion blender – that’s what I did). Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pan; stir in pepper.

Combine chopped dill and crème fraîche sour cream in a small bowl. Serve crème fraîche sour cream mixture on top of soup; garnish with dill sprigs, if desired.

Think about how Deborah Madison is a genius while eating…

Next on the rhubarb agenda…


Muffins! These muffins were delicious but i don’t have a single picture of them – they were made on a whim on a Saturday morning and eaten up for breakfast the same day. Oh well, it happens.

Cinnamon-Topped Rhubarb Muffins
Recipe courtesy of Joy Toso at All Recipes


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups finely chopped rhubarb


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Combine egg, buttermilk, oil and vanilla; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in rhubarb. Fill greased or paper-lined muffins cups about half full. Combine topping ingredients; sprinkle over each muffin. Bake at 375 degrees F for 16-18 minutes or until muffins test done.

And that brings us to today…  Today, I am going to make a Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie with the last of my rhubarb.  I’m looking forward to the pie but am already lamenting the face that for the first time in two weeks, there will be no rhubarb in my freezer.  Rhubarb freezes well, by the way – if you love rhubarb like I do, stock up and freeze!


3 thoughts on “Guess what’s in season right now…

  1. I wish my husband liked Rhubarb ’cause I’d love to try the coffe cake and muffins. I’m a sucker for baked goods. Oh well.

  2. Pingback: That thing that’s important… « Art is the Handmaid of Human Good

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