Life on Regal-Hill: May 20, 2009

Well, we got a rather hard frost here at Regal-Hill last week. George built a fire. It sure felt good until the sun came up and warmed things up. The wind didn’t blow either which helped speed up the warming process. It is amazing how so often when we get a frost that the sun will shine and gradually warm up the air so it doesn’t seem so bad if you have to be outside.
I am concerned that the apple blossoms, strawberry blossoms and lilacs were harmed by the frost but there really isn’t anything we can do about it. Allegra and her mother tried to cover some plants but it is rather difficult to cover lilacs and apple trees being they are so tall. She also covered their blueberry bushes. At least they aren’t so tall. It is too bad since she is so fond of lilacs. Some lilacs were picked for me before the frost and we are enjoying their wonderful fragrance and color. Actually they were still in the bud stage but since have opened up. Now whether that will make a difference for those still on the bushes I don’t know.
Today we had another frost, seeming to be harder than the first frost. It doesn’t appear that there was any more damage than the day before.
As I hung clothes up I noticed the wild strawberry blossoms as well as some buttercups in blossom under the clothesline and neither looked harmed by the frost.
Now that we have had two rather hard frosts and thus frozen the peepers, it seems there should only be one more frost before the end of May and it will then be safe to plant anything we want to whether hardy plants or tender plants. I am looking forward to that time. How about you? Also I keep telling myself I need to concentrate on vegetables rather than flowers this year but it is hard as I do enjoy flowers so much.
Rhubarb is one of the earliest spring crops. Rhubarb is very good alone or combined with other fruits to make delicious dishes. You just need to remember to add plenty of sugar if you are preparing rhubarb alone since it is quite sour. Since rhubarb is so easy to grow you may have your own patch to enjoy and share with others. Remember to freeze any that you can’t use while fresh.

Rhubarb Berry Cheesecake Pie
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
6 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash salt
1 graham cracker crust (9 inches)
2 cups sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and milk until smooth. Beat in the lemon juice, lemon peel, vanilla and salt. Pour into crust. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the rhubarb and 1/4 cup water to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes or until rhubarb is tender. Drain.
In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over remaining water; let stand for 1 minute. Stir gelatin and sugar into rhubarb. Bring to a boil.
Remove from the heat; stir in lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until slightly thickened. Stir in strawberries. Spoon over pie. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until set.
Yield: 6-8 servings
Country Woman May/June 2005

Rhubarb Coffee Cake
with Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups finely chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg; beat well. Combine flour and baking soda; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Fold in rhubarb. Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan.
For topping, in a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
For sauce, in a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar and cream; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 3-4 minutes or until slightly thickened. Serve with warm coffee cake.
Makes 18 servings
Taste of Home February & March