Easy Independence Day Dessert

This involves more rhubarb, I know too much, but I promise you will love this; it’s rhubarb dump cake, and most likely you will already have all the ingredients stashed in you pantry. This recipe will work especially well if you need to bring a dish to a backyard BBQ, and you’re low on time. It’s simple, delicious, and semi-homemade.

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RHUBARB DUMP CAKE

1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/4 inch pieces (between 3 and 4 cups)
1 cup white sugar
1 (3 ounce package) strawberry jell-o
1 package yellow cake mix
1 cup water
1/4 cup butter, meltedPreheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Spread the rhubarb evenly in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle the sugar over the rhubarb, followed by the jell-o, and finally the cake mix. Pour the water and melted butter over the top. Do not stir. Bake for 45 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender.

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 As you can see, I added a few blueberries on top before baking; I had them lying around and I thought they went well with the red, white, and blue theme. If the rhubarb cake looks to involved for you, please, please make this one. You won’t regret it.
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Poetry Monday- Dog Days of Summer

I spent the morning picking blueberries at an organic, u-pick blueberry farm near by. I’m thrilled to make those tasty berries into sweet blueberry jam, but more about that later in the week. By noon, me, my best friend from elementary school, and her two children, had already picked a whopping ten pounds. That’s pretty good for two little ones less than three feet tall!! I apologize if this seems like a side note, I promise I’m getting to the poetry folks, long story short, we only picked until noon because by then it was already triple digits. And now, at 5:30 in the evening it’s still 106 degrees outside. Don’t get me wrong, I love the heat, but today got me thinking about the phrase “dog days of summer.”

Because it is sweltering outside (at least where I live) I’ve decided to dedicate this Poetry Monday to the dogs. Today, all of our poems will be coming from Bruce Guernsey’s collection titled From Rain: Poems, 1970-2010.

I purchased this collection while under the impression that I would need it for a poetry course, however, the collection was not on the syllabi. When I asked our professor if I should send it back in the mail, she firmly said no. She told me to read it front to back, treasure it, and learn from Guernsey’s use of every-day objects in his poetry. The back of the collection’s cover says the following, and I know that’s just why Laurie Lamon told me to hold on to it:

In simple, spare language the poetry in FROM RAIN: Poems 1970-2010 examines the common objects around us as if they were clues to solving some kind of mystery. Ice, glass, stones, moss, and similar inanimate things take on meaning as the poet seeks to answer who and why we are.

Although I haven’t had time to read the collection through, I can contest Guernsey is using objects in this way with his poetry. Below I will include three poems included in this collection, all having something to do with the subject of dogs. I assure you this won’t be the last you hear about him on this blog, as I have found many other favorites of mine.

THE LADY AND THE TRAMP

As my mother’s memory dims
she’s losing her sense of smell
and can’t remember the toast
blackening the kitchen with smoke
or sniff how nasty the breath of the dog
that follows her yet from room to room,
unable, himself, to hear his own bark.

It’s thus they get around,
the wheezing old hound stone deaf
baying like a smoke alarm
for his amnesiac mistress whose back
from petting him is bent forever
as they shuffle toward the flaming toaster
and split the cindered crisp that’s left.

I think this is beautiful. My favorite image is of the woman’s bent back, and how the speaker contributes it to petting her animal and friend. I also love how Guernsey gets away with using the word “nasty” in a poem. This next one points out a truth that is so commonplace, we often overlook it; Guernsey makes it new.

SOMETIMES FOR HOURS

At my feet my dog,
a pastoral scene,

master and beast,
except in his dream

he’s chasing a car,
flinching awake

as the wheels hit–
the way we do

falling through sleep
suddenly saved.

What the mind questions,
the heart believes

and we lie there reasoning,
afraid.

The dog instead
scratches his ear,

nips at a flea
and is soon back twitching.

And the last one is just for fun.

THE SEEING-EYE DOG

sneaks out nights,
cool in beret,

his master’s dark glasses,
sips cointreau

at the dog cafe
and watches;

is the poet of dogs
with a voice that sees

for the man who can’t,
that speaks the meaning

of read, of green;
is the loneliest dog

at the dog cafe
where hounds down suds

and the barking
is loud.

Rhubarb Cake

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Two weeks ago I started my summer job working at a grain elevator. So far my time has been spent in training and preparing for wheat harvest in the Columbia Basin. Although Eastern Washington is described as a desert wasteland, those who live here know how it prospers through agriculture. Because wheat harvest won’t start till about mid-July, I often find myself looking for things to do around the office. Also, because I’m ‘the new girl’ I wanted to find a way to make myself comfortable in the new space. My dad, who let’s be honest got me the job, mentioned to the guys that I had made a delicious rhubarb cake and that I should make another. At first I shook his suggestion off thinking it would be inappropriate, but then I realized the men who work with my dad aren’t much different from him. They too are fathers to daughters, even if they are grown, and they too have a sweet spot for food. I figured this is my in, and the next morning I woke up earlier than normal to pack my cooking utensils and pre-measured ingredients. The cake turned out beautifully, especially topped with vanilla ice cream, and the guys haven’t stopped talking about it a week later.

So I thought I share both my story and the recipe I used. First of all I’d like to get it out there that I’m not particularly a fan of rhubarb and I enjoy this cake. Secondly, I would advise all of you food and cooking fanatics to download the app called Foodily. The site is gorgeous and updates with new recipes daily which you can customize according to your preferences.  I found this recipe on Foodily which is linked to a wonderful food and cooking blog titled not without salt where you can find the original post for this recipe (or you can keep reading and find it below) along with other interesting recipes.

Let’s get on with it; the wait is over.

Rhubarb Cake

2 cups chopped (rough 1/2″) rhubarb
1/2 cup (not packed) brown sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, soft
1 cup (not packed) brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup plain yogurt (I used greek vanilla and it turned out fine)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda

Butter and flour a 8 or 9″ (2″ high) round cake pan.

Pre-heat your oven to 350*

In a small bowl add the rhubarb and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Let it sit for 30 minutes.

In a large bowl cream the butter and 1 cup brown sugar until light. Then mix in the egg and vanilla. Add the rhubarb mixture and yogurt. Stir well. In another bowl whisk together the dry ingredients then add it to the rest of the ingredients stirring well to combine.

Spread in your prepared pan and bake for 50- 60 minutes or until the middle of the cake springs back when lightly pressed.

I hope you enjoy!! And if you are a rhubarb nay-sayer, like I was, I hope this may change your mind.