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Creating Food Memories with Rhubarb Cake

As I was reading a friend’s blog, I got inspired by a topic that she has recently written about and that is her relationship with food, therefore I thought I would explore my own relationship with the stuff because it a huge part of my life. As I am writing this I am being put into a “food daze” eagerly awaiting the cinnamon and sugar rhubarb cake that is baking in my oven.

There is no other way to put it, but I love food and anything that has to do with food. Have you ever thought about all the things that have to do with food beyond eating it such as cooking it, experimenting with new combinations, reading about it, growing it, harvesting it, knowing the story behind it, knowing the importance of it nutritionally and culturally, and most importantly knowing where it comes from. Ever since I can remember I have made time to think about food everyday and now it is all I can think about. It all started with dieting and my interest in cooking and always being around home cooked food as a child. My mother always did and still does take a ton of time to think about the food behind every family celebration and meal. She should because food is that important not only to keep us healthy, but also as a tool to bring families and friends together to create memories that are often around food. Who can say that they don’t go to grandma’s house and request your favourite cookies or pie or a meal or have a family dish that reminds you of a relative or friend? You have created a food memory associated with that person and thinking about that person makes you think about food that is special and important to your relationship. When I hear mincemeat pie, I suddenly picture my Grandma H. in her kitchen wearing a Christmas apron because that was her famous contribution to holiday meals. My Grandma C. is famous in my mind for her pistachio cake or oatmeal butterscotch cookies, and a trip to her house would not be complete without a ham dinner. Hearing the word asparagus brings me to the farm where I help to cut it in the spring and I will never look at a zucchini again without having a vision of the one last summer pulled from the garden that was larger than a baseball bat because we left it unattended for a few days to go camping. Even the rhubarb cake that is in the oven, is an old family recipe from the Ketcheson family who owns the asparagus farm that I help out at during the season. Last year at the end of rhubarb season, I had a piece of this cake at their house and fell in love. I was gladly given the recipe and here I am thinking about a memory that was created last summer at their farm. Last summer I recall, I personally picked the rhubarb, diced it, and passed it along to Ann who made the cake following her mother’s recipe. Now talk about connections with your food. This is what I want to remember when I grow old.

Making connections with our food is so important, not only because it helps you control what it is that you are eating, but also because culturally and historically food is at the centre of all relationships. How cool is it that there are ways to find out the origin of our food right here in our community? How cool is it that there are others willing to share recipes that have been in the family for years? How cool is that there are people out there who are building awareness about sustainable food practices to ensure that you lead the rest of your life in a responsible healthy way? How cool is it that food has been around since the beginning of time and it is what brings all groups of people together to socialize? How cool is food? If you haven’t taken the time to stop and think about it today, I urge you to slow down and take a few minutes to think about what it means to you. Trust me, it will be worth it.

Use this recipe for Rhubarb Cake as a start. It combines the tart flavour of rhubarb, which is in season now, with the sweetness of cinnamon and brown sugar. Did you know that rhubarb, if taken care of, can produce fruit for a few months, usually beginning in May and lasting through the summer if the flower is cut off before it goes to seed? Of course it needs to be trimmed and consumed within a reasonable time before it loses it prime flavour. I hope you enjoy the recipe.

Rhubarb Cake
Recipe From: Betty Ketcheson
Makes a 9x12 cake

1.5 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or oil
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup sour milk (add 1TBS milk to milk to sour)
1 1/2 cups rhubarb
Cinnamon/ sugar


1. Cream the brown sugar and butter or oil. Add the egg.

2. Combine the dry ingredients and add them to the above mixture, alternating with the sour milk.

3. Pour into the pan and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

4. Bake at 350 °F for 30-40 minutes.

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