Get ready for Father’s Day with delicious rhubarb dishes

This Father’s Day, we’ll be eating my husband Fred’s favorite steak (always beef for Father’s Day) with his Iowa childhood favorite, rhubarb pie. Or will it be the sauce or Grandma’s Rhubarb Cake?

Since grilled steak with a little Montreal Steak Seasoning is Fred’s steak recipe, I’ll devote the rest of this column to another Fred favorite: rhubarb.

Many of you know from my moaning and groaning over the years, I just can’t grow rhubarb here. Talk to anyone from the Midwest, they remember growing up with rhubarb in the backyard and never knew how it got there. It just was and lots of it.

Well, thanks to neighborly generosity, a while back Fred came home bearing rhubarb from Patricia and Landon. Rhubarb that close, who knew? What a treat. How should we use it? Let me count the ways. But after inhaling the aroma, we decided on sauce and savored every bite.

Then another miracle! Janet Renzelman, now my best friend, used her connections to get me a huge bag of rhubarb.

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there, rhubarb lovers or not.

Note: Rhubarb is delicious with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples, cherries and especially peaches. You can substitute half the fruit in recipes with rhubarb and adjust the sugar to taste. And here’s a tip from Janet: sprinkle about 1/2 box JELL-O Tapioca pudding over your strawberry/rhubarb pie filling instead of using straight tapioca. It’s delicious.

Baked Rhubarb Sauce


1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, cut in 3- or 4-inch pieces

1/4 cup water

1–1 1/2 cups sugar (I use part Splenda, part sugar)

Dash of salt

Dixie add: one teaspoon vanilla

Place rhubarb in 1 1/2-quart casserole. Add water, sugar to taste and salt. Cover tightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 20–25 minutes, until tender. Chill.

Fred says: Put this sauce over ice cream, angel food cake or with a little cream. I like it with oatmeal.


Lemon Thyme and Rhubarb Compote

From, and good with beef for Father’s Day.

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup dry red wine

1/2 cup sugar

1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1-inch slices

1 pint strawberries, halved

2 sprigs fresh lemon thyme or fresh French thyme with a squeeze of lemon

Place water, wine, sugar and rhubarb in medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Simmer, partially covered, until rhubarb is tender. Remove from heat, stir in strawberries and thyme. Cool, discard thyme. Serve room temperature or chilled, with beef or as after-dinner sweet.


Grandma’s Old-Fashioned 
Rhubarb Cake

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

1 large egg (slightly beaten)

1/2 cup margarine or butter, (original calls for shortening)

1 cup sour milk (add 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup milk, and let it stand 5–10 minutes)

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon soda

One half teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups finely chopped rhubarb


1/2 cup sugar mixed with cinnamon to taste

1/2 cup chopped walnuts/pecans

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix egg, add sour milk, set aside; mix flour, soda, salt, add to other mixture. Stir in rhubarb last. Place in 9x12 baking pan, greased/floured. Top with cinnamon/sugar mixture and nuts. Bake about 45 minutes or until cake is done. (The original recipe had no instructions except this: Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top and bake in a slow oven.)


Rhubarb Pie

4 cups diced rhubarb

1 tablespoon butter, diced

2 cups sugar (we use a bit less as we like it tart)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1–2 teaspoons orange or lemon zest

2 9-inch unbaked pie crusts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line pie pan (9 inches) with one pie crust shell. Mix all ingredients except butter; pour into pie crust, dot with butter pieces. Second pie crust goes on top. Cut several vents/slits in top crust. Pinch crusts together around edges. Bake 10–15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake 25–30 minutes or more until done.

Option: Use half rhubarb, half strawberries.


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