Some years ago, our daughter was on a fellowship in Scotland, and the first card we got from her was a postcard — a lovely castle, surrounded by “forty shades of green.” As I write this, looking out our windows, Washoe Lake is filling up, and the landscape is as green as I’ve ever seen it.
And fecund as well. Every fruit tree — apricot, apple, peach, pear, and plum has many young fruits. There’s rhubarb in the garden — lots of it — as well as asparagus, swiss chard, parsley, and chives from last year. And we haven’t even planted anything yet. Caution born of many years experience here tells us we may still have another period of freezing weather. So the tomatoes are still inside under grow lights and my handy seed storage box David made is still full of unopened seed packets we ordered in January.
The moisture in the soils is really deep this year. Wild flowers have been especially lovely, starting with a fabulous show of the pink desert peach. Now lupine, yellow arrow-leaf balsamroot and wild peony (not really a peony, but a member of the buttercup family) cover the hills above the ranch. And although we lost a great deal of sagebrush during the drought, new plants are everywhere, and the sage that survived looks new and green and healthy. Our B and B guests often comment on the fragrance of the sage, and frequently take a few sprigs home as a remembrance.
Rhubarb is one of my favorite early spring offerings from the garden (which regular readers probably remember). Today’s recipe uses rhubarb in a tasty breakfast quick bread. It freezes well and everyone loves it. I usually serve it with strawberry or strawberry-rhubarb jam.
RHUBARB OATMEAL BREAD
This recipe owes its origins to King Arthur Flour. Several changes over the years have made it quite different from the original. One recipe fills five small (about 3-inch by 5 1/2-inch) or two large (about 4 1/2-inch by 8 1/2-inch) loaf pans.
Grease and flour the loaf pans; set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Make the topping and set aside:
3 Tbsp granulated(white) sugar
3 tsp melted butter
Make the batter:
In a large bowl, beat until frothy:
2⁄3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
Then add and blend well:
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp orange extract or orange oil
Then mix the dry ingredients in another bowl:
2 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking sod
1 tsp salt
Then add to the dry ingredients and mix well:
2 cups finely diced rhubarb (about 2 or 3 long stalks)
3/4 cup (uncooked) old fashioned oatmeal
Mix wet and dry all together just until blended; pour or scoop into prepared loaf pans, drizzle topping on each loaf, and bake about 30–40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and loaves are lightly browned. Cool a bit before wrapping or serving.