To help peel the project back off the ground, I pleaded with JVV’s facebook friends to give me exciting mix and match ideas, or—and this was what I was really going for—to cook any of these terrible vegetables for me in exciting ways. Emphasis on all the someone-else-doing-this-for-me parts.
I got some hits on that. I like this trend. A lot.
The first offer I received was from my new favorite friend, rhu-Barb. I’ve known Barb since she and BFF Lauren and I all worked together a number of years ago, but for some reason she didn’t catch the anti-veg itch when we started this back in the summer because she didn’t know I was me (penalty against Barb for this transgression). It was only in about mid-December, after Lauren—drunk with blog stardom from her third or fourth cameo—made everyone in her immediate vicinity read every post with her name in it that Barb put two and two together. So she went back to JVV’s auspicious beginnings and read about every fire, explosion and upended pizza until she knew about my vegetables better than I did. Then she e-mailed me:
You are the smartest, funniest, most hilariously awesome person I know, and I agree with you, you do have great hair, plus, vegetables are the single most terrible invention ever in the universe and I hate them, too, but I have managed to survive them, and I think you can, too, with this secret: cake. I would be obliged, honored even, to make a vegetable cake for you any time.
Your biggest fan,
I may have taken some liberties with that e-mail, but it definitely had the word cake in it. And she definitely offered to make it for me. And I definitely took her up on it.
Barb’s offer made my mouth water—rhubarb coffee cake and fresh-squeezed, homemade orange juice—and I was a little cranky with her for offering it during squash week when rhubarb week was still a month away. I wanted it to happen, like, that day. Then I realized, while I was being cranky in my head with my biggest fan for offering to make me a bunch of delicious homemade awesomeness, that my mouth was watering over a vegetable. A vegetable that had previously made me gag. Don’t I win something for that? Like a cookie?
Barb stuck to the rules and planned to bake rhubarb cake during rhubarb week. Then she, Lauren and I gathered in Lauren’s office before work one morning and rhu-Barb unveiled her vegetable cake.
Few things in life make me happier than cake. It does things to me that make me blush. Until now, the rules have dictated that my vegetables must be prepared in the form of a dinner-type main or at least a substantial side, but since we’ve struggled to get moving again and we’re considering all kinds of new rules in this new year, let us fold into our arsenal of ways to win vegetables—fried, with meat, or covered in cheese—a new weapon: bake it in a cake.
Rhubarb. Won. And, we’re back.
rhu-Barb’s Amazing Vegetable Cake
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 cup buttermilk (use the full-on fat kind, seriously)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups sliced rhubarb
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
–Before you start: Preheat oven. Grease pan.
–In medium bowl mix butter, sugar, egg, buttermilk, and vanilla.
–Stir in rhubarb, flour, and soda.
–Pour into greased 13 x 9″ pan.
–Combine brown sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon; sprinkle over batter.
–Bake in 350 oven for 45 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean (course, if your toothpick hits a piece of rhubarb, it will not come out clean…take another stab).
NOTE: Approximately 9-10 stalks rhubarb needed. If you cannot find them at the market, Publix has frozen rhubarb. Its usually somewhere near the ice cream and/or frozen juice. One bag will work, but sometimes I go crazy and use a bag & ½. If using the frozen kind, let it thaw a bit in the fridge for a day or so (you don’t want to use it frozen, but just barely thawed), then drain off the liquid and chop it up a little smaller (like each chunk into 3-4 pieces) because the way it comes is too big.
Note from Julie: I love Barb’s recipe. Very instructive. Very helpful.