Household Notes May 2014

The first blush of spring

    The blush is, of course, the shy rhubarb, trying to decide if it’s time to burst out in its red and green glory. On my daily checks I can see the tiny rosy sprouts, but nothing too forward about their behavior so far. One of these sunny days I’ll find a few shoots to pull and steam for that first tart, luscious taste. Perhaps I’ll try Vera Johnston’s hint for forcing the plants into production. I am getting impatient. 

    In the meantime, we have a pailfull of recipes at the ready. Enjoy them.


Vera Johnston, RR Markerville, Alta.

    “I am sending some of my rhubarb recipes. Frozen rhubarb works for pies, but for custard it must be fresh because the juice makes a difference. Men seem to like rhubarb, I’ve noticed. 

    “When I was a child, I remember my dad planted 100 rhubarb plants. My mother canned, made pies, but the pies were always made of just rhubarb, sugar, and a little flour. We never did see nice recipes like we do now. Last year my rhubarb was slow starting. Two friends told me ‘go get some large pails or boxes and put them over the plants and don’t even peek. They’ll just jump up.’ So I did. Would you believe, it worked. A little pale for color, but right to the top of the boxes. I’ll do it this year, too.”


1 cup flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup butter



3 tablespoons flour

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 cups rhubarb, chopped

3 egg yolks, beaten

1/2 cup cream


3 egg whites

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla


    Blend the crust ingredients until crumbly. Press into a 9” by 9” pan and bake 20 minutes at 325°F.

    Cook together the filling ingredients and stir until thick.  Beat the egg whites until stiff, then beat in the sugar and vanilla. Pour the filling over the baked crust and top with meringue. Brown under the broiler for 15 minutes at 350°F.


Myrtle Conrad, Cow Bay, N.S.


1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Muffin mix:

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg beaten

1 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup melted shortening

Streusel topping:

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour

1/4 cup butter


    Combine the filling ingredients in a sauce pan. Cook over low heat stirring until it is thickened. Set the above aside. Mix the muffin dry ingredients and muffin wet ingredients separately, then combine. Fill muffin tins one-half full with batter. Dot with the rhubarb filling, then fill with the remaining batter. Sprinkle with topping. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes.


Vera Johnston, RR Markerville, Alta.

    “This is wonderful. We serve it at weddings. The pans get empty fast. It is best served warm.”


2 cups flour

1 cup butter

2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt


1 cup evaporated milk

4 tablespoons flour

2 cups white sugar

6 egg yolks, beaten

6 cups rhubarb


6 egg whites, stiffly beaten

6 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

    Mix the base ingredients and press the mixture into a greased 9” by 13” pan. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes.         Mix the custard ingredients well. Add the rhubarb and pour over the baked base. Bake for one hour at 350°F.

    Spoon the meringue on top of the baked custard. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. This makes a large dessert.


Alice Meagher, RR Summerside, P.E.I.

    “This is one of my family’s favorite desserts. Everybody loves rhubarb season.”

3 cups rhubarb, in 1-inch pieces

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup butter, diced

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

3/4 cup self-rising flour

    Place the rhubarb in a well-buttered deep-dish 9-inch pie plate. Drizzle syrup on top. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Gently fold in the flour. Spread the mixture on top of the rhubarb. Bake at 375°F for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

    Serve while still warm with whipped cream or ice cream.



Fast bread for the busy homesteader

Mary Sims-Morey, Union Square, N.S.

    “This recipe is supposed to be a semi-sourdough recipe where it sits in the fridge for a while before you use it, but one day I needed bread right away and so baked it right away and it turned out great. The crust is chewy (I think because of the steam in the oven) and the loaf is always light, not heavy and dense. I have found that it is a great recipe for busy schedules, as you don’t have to do two or three one-hour risings. You can leave it to rise in the bowl for as long as you like and it will still turn out fine. This is the bread I make most often. Rye flour is good too, and 12-grain also works, as long as you put some white flour with it.”

3 cups warm water

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast

1 tablespoon sea salt

6-7 cups of flour

    In a large bread bowl, mix the warm water, yeast, and sea salt. You don’t need to wait for the yeast to foam. Start adding flour, a cup or two at a time. I usually start with two cups unbleached white flour, then add two cups whole grain or whole wheat. Stop to stir vigorously and well. Then add another two cups or so, one at a time of white or whole wheat flour.

    At some point you’ll have to put down the spoon and use your hands. At this point, dump the dough out onto a floured surface and work more flour in until most of the stickiness is gone. Shape the dough into a ball and put it back into the bowl. Set someplace warm and cover with a tea towel. Leave it for as long as you like. Go do the chores, run some errands, go for a walk. You can leave it for one to five hours.

    When you are ready to make the loaves, take the dough out of the bowl, divide into thirds, shape each into an oblong loaf and place them on a cookie sheet sprinkled with flour or cornmeal. Use a knife to put a few slashes in the top of each loaf. Set a timer for 20 minutes. At the end of 20 minutes, set oven to 450° F and place a shallow pan of water on the lower rack of the oven. Set the timer for another 20 minutes. When that dings, put the bread into the oven for 30 minutes.



    This month we have a request sent by Sharon Cunningham from Hatfield Point, N.B. for a traditional buckwheat pancake recipe. “It was part of every farmer’s or logger’s life. It was cooked on a griddle, greased with salt pork. I can’t imagine that it would have had eggs in it as it was served during the winter. People fondly remember the pancake batter pitcher but do not know what was used to ‘start’ it. It was kept in a cool place with a cloth over the top of the pitcher between meals. The buckwheat had dark specks and an earthy taste. It almost always was eaten with molasses.”  Do any of our readers have the recipe Sharon is looking for? 

   Where did you get the recipe? Did you make any changes to suit your family’s tastes? You can email recipes to, or send them to us by mail at the following address: Household Notes, Rural Delivery, Box 1509, Liverpool, NS B0T 1K0.