Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Transportation - Rhubarb

Well Matt just took our car to the 'doctors' for what, apparently, will not be an inexpensive repair. They never are unfortunately. We have a friend who swears his present vehicle will be his last. We don't believe that will last once he is without one for a while. I know in this day and age of fuel prices and ecological concerns, they are looked on somewhat askance, but I would hate to manage without one. I haven't ridden a bike since I was a kid - I tell a lie, I rode one once in a trailer park when I had had a couple. I was actually surprised I stayed on, its one of those things they say you never forget, but I have always been scared of trying again. The trouble is, riding bikes is a summertime passtime here, you couldn't ride one in the winter - too cold, too much snow and ice, etc. I say that, but as I have mentioned before, the Mennonites drive a horse and buggy all though the winter. They must find that excessively cold, at least on the bike you would keep warm pedalling. The buggy shown here is enclosed, but I have seen some that aren't. I am not sure the driver in this one is totally enclosed either, couldn't be really.

We are lucky in the area where we live, there is a pretty good bus service, but even then, in the winter you have to hang around in the cold waiting for one to arrive. Some bus shelters are partially enclosed, but that only helps with the wind, not with the sub zero temps. I hope the picture can give you some idea, it was one of the best I could find. Not all bus stops have them either, so you have to hope you live close to one. When we first came to Canada, there was a service called 'dial-a-bus' which picked you up at your front door, that was great. Before I had a car here, I used to travel on the 'dial-a-bus' to the bus depot down town and then the driver of my regular bus would let me sit in the warmth until it was time to leave for our destination. Then I got a car. For many years we had one each, but these days we have just the one. Very rare that we are not able to travel together especially since I quit my part time job. When we were both working part time it could sometimes be a problem, but it was easy for me to take the occasional cab.

However, without a car, I couldn't go to Barrie's Asparagus Farm, it is quite a drive and probably isn't on a bus route anyway. We went there yesterday and ended my one day's deprivation. Got myself some more rhubarb - I am quite enjoying it and am glad I decided to start this. Apart from all the pounds of Splenda I have to use up *g*. Matt doesn't know what he is missing.

The cookery group I belong to, on the internet at Yahoo Groups, has made something of a specialty of rhubarb recipes, I figured it was time I shared one. I have never made this myself, I would be the only person to eat it and there would be too much, pity, it sounds good doesn't it?:

Cheese Filled Rhubarb Coffee Cake
Source: RecitopiaUK

Fruit Filling:
1 pound fresh rhubarb, approximately 4 cups chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1 can crushed pineapple in juice, (16 ounces)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, approximately
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 stick unsalted butter
4 eggs

Cheese Filling:
24 ounces cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla

1 cup unbleached all-purpose Flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled, cut into chunks

For fruit filling: Clean the rhubarb and chop it into 1/2 inch pieces. Put in a bowl, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar, and let sit several hours or overnight, till the rhubarb releases some of its juice.

Place the undrained rhubarb in a heavy saucepan, add the 1/2 cup sugar and undrained pineapple, and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is like thick applesauce. Stir more frequently toward the end of the cooking time, so filling doesn't burn. This will take about 1 hour. Remove from heat and set aside. When cool, stir in vanilla.

For crust: Heat milk and butter, cut in pieces, in a saucepan over medium heat until mixture reaches about 120F. Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a bowl. Pour milk mixture over dry ingredients, stirring to mix well. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add an additional 3 1/2 cups of flour, mixing to combine. Turn the dough onto a well floured work surface and knead, adding additional flour as necessary, until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat all surfaces, cover bowl, and set in a warm spot to rise until dough is doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

For cheese filling: Beat the cream cheese, eggs, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.

For topping: Mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Cut in the butter, as you would for pie crust, working it in until mixture is coarse and crumbly.

To assemble: Butter a 12x18x1 inch rimmed baking sheet (a half-sheet pan). Punch dough down, and divide into two pieces. On a large, well floured surface, roll one piece of dough into a 12x18 inch rectangle. Fit into pan. Spread cheese filling on dough in pan to within 1/2 inch of edge, then top evenly with fruit filling. Roll the second piece of dough into a 14x18 inch rectangle, to stretch over filling. Place it on top of the filling, then seal edges, trimming off any extra dough. Brush top crust with melted butter, and sprinkle with topping. Let rise in a warm place for about 15 minutes, while you preheat the oven to 350F.

Bake cake for 45 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 24 3x3 inch pieces.

Have a great day.


  1. The bike is becoming more popular every day. I used to ride one to school but my dad gave it to a younger cousin of mine when I turned 16 because 'young ladies' weren't supposed to ride a bike.

    I'm going to pass the rhubarb coffee cake recipe to a friend who adores rhubarb.

  2. I have access to lots more rhubarb recipes if your friend wants them, will probably post another tomorrow.

    I recall in Holland many years ago, everyone appeared to ride bikes, I wonder if that's still true?

  3. I believe even the Chinese have stopped riding bikes, at least, theyré not doing it in the nembers they used to. They all want cars. Just as we in the west are starting to be a bit ore circumspect about driving, the most densely populated country on earth is buying into four wheels. A great shame.

    I've never driven and in Oz, as in Canada, the vast distances make public transport difficult. Now I'm on the pension I can get a coach to Adelaide and back (about 850 miles, round trip) for about $65, but there is almost no bus service within Mount Gambier, where I live. The buses only run for a few hours each day and there is only one per hour. It's a half hour walk to the shops, and if it's very hot or raining I avoid walking like the plague. We both live in countries that are subject to the "tyranny of distance".

  4. Jo - I was in Holland a few months ago and, yes, the Dutch still ride bikes.

    Even in London these days (as I saw when I was there mid-May) more and more folks go to work on bikes. One can see them early morning riding by one's hotel window. London's new Mayor, Boris Johnson, also rides a bike in town. He was snapped during his campaign for the town hall, not stopping at a red light.

    As for Paris, the bike's become so popular one can even now hire a bike by the hour or day; there are bike 'stands' everywhere, where there are few taxi stands these days. We've also got special lanes for bikes; these can be quite a nuisance, not to speak of them being dangerous for both other vehicles and pedestrians, as the bikes are allowed to go in the wrong direction. We've already had two fatalities in Paris since the bike-hire scheme began last summer.

  5. We have bike lanes all over the place here Marilyn and I haven't heard of any big problems - I don't know what they do in Toronto or other big cities, never go there, where I live is busy enough for me.

    I would imagine not driving in Oz must be a big problem Satima, same as it would be here. I had driving lessons for my 17th birthday present and hope I can drive til the bitter end.