We’re nearing the end of Rhubarb season, a time of year I always look forward to in the garden. Most years, on Memorial Day weekend, I make the same Rhubarb pie recipe from the original Martha Stewart Cookbook. One of the reasons I’m so fond of the recipe is because it includes cardamon (a heaping tablespoon of it, if you can believe it!) and orange zest. It’s delicious, and it never fails to impress, but this year I also wanted to branch out a bit and try something new.
My plan was to make jam, and at some point I still want to do that–I had an amazing Rhubarb Pineapple jam at the Birchwood last week that was to die for–but I got sidetracked. It was the happiest of detours, actually. I was exchanging emails with my uncle when he asked if there was a recipe for potato pancakes in my grandmother’s recipe box. Ah, yes, the family recipe box.
When my grandmother died three years ago this past January, I offered to scan the recipes and share them with the family. Well, I haven’t gotten around to doing that quite yet (she says sheepishly). In all honesty, I had kind of forgotten I had this treasure trove of culinary family history. But his request sent me rifling through the box in search of the recipe, which, alas, was not to be found. What I did find, though, were at least a half dozen recipes involving rhubarb, including one for rhubarb muffins.
My kiddos love muffins for breakfast, and so do I. It’s not always easy to get my boys moving in the morning, but the promise of homemade muffins never fails to draw them out of bed. With a crunchy, cinnamon-sugar topping that gives way to sweet-tart bits of rhubarb, these did the trick alright. And best of all, I had rediscovered my grandmother’s recipe stash, which of course reminded me of her. Most of the recipes are hand-typed, and I can almost picture her, leaned over her trusty typewriter, reading glasses on and white-out at the ready, meticulously typing her favorite recipes onto index cards. The recipes are not in any particular order. Favorite Coffee Cake is followed by Pork and Sauerkraut Casserole. But what I love about my grandma’s recipe box is that she keeps coming back to desserts, especially pies, which are liberally sprinkled throughout. This is my kind of recipe box! Someday I’m going to circle back and make her black-raspberry pie, our sweet reward for braving the mosquitos and thorns to gather enough fruit for the filling.
For now, though, here’s her recipe for Rhubarb Muffins. Enjoy!
1 1/4 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 c. salad oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 c. diced rhubarb
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Combine brown sugar, oil, egg, vanilla and buttermilk. With a spoon, stir in rhubarb and nuts. Combine flour, soda, baking powder and salt. Stir into rhubarb mixture until just blended. Spoon batter into muffin cups, about 2/3 full.
1 tsp. melted butter
1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Mix butter, sugar and cinnamon for topping. Sprinkle over muffins. Bake at 375 F for 20-25 minutes.