Handwritten recipes upon note cards. In the world of recipe-ridden Pinterest, I fear this practice is falling (or has already been strewn) by the wayside. But the writing itself is so very powerful, isn’t it? When I read a recipe written in the hand of a loved one, it is as if I can see the person gently scrolling the pen across the page. Memories of that person flood my mind.
This recipe comes from my mom’s recipe box. I was filing through it, attempting to find something very different, but when my eyes fell upon this recipe I was immediately transported to my youth. I am running through the yard to catch up with my friends during a very lively game of capture the flag. My mom stoops over the rhubarb patch nestled along the south side of our house. She looks up at me and smiles. I continue my trek, scampering barefoot through the grass as my mom clips away at the stems of the bitter rhubarb.
My mom died of a very aggressive form of cancer two and a half years ago. One day she was active, smiling, putting her positive energy out into the universe and the next moment the cancer could literally be seen eating its way through her body. Even now, over two years after her passing, there are days when I am going about my daily tasks and I am suddenly hit with the most aggressive type of pain. A pain that feels as if my heart is being cut open and all that pain, hurt, and loss is spilling forth in a way that I cannot seem to mend.
The pain of this loss is real, and heavy, and raw, yet glancing at my mom’s penmanship upon this notecard grips my heart with both hands and pulls me from my emotional pit and raises me to a solid place of healing. Seeing her scrip makes me realize that the reason I feel so much heartache over her death is because of the profound love she showed me. For looking at this worn card immediately reminds me of the overflowing love that washed over me on that warm spring day when she raised her eyes from the intertwining ruby stems of the rhubarb plants in her garden and blessed me with her fervent smile.
My mom’s rhubarb cake recipe is one I have made for years and is a family favorite of young and old alike. I have made some minor adjustments to the original recipe (reducing the sugar content a bit and replacing the shortening with coconut oil), but the end result is still a moist, spongey cake with the perfect balance of sweet and tart. Enjoy!
2 cups diced rhubarb
1 ½ cup sugar
½ coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
dash of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a small bowl, mix the diced rhubarb with ½ cup of sugar and let stand. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together all dry ingredients, and set aside. In a stand mixer, cream the coconut oil and remaining 1 cup of sugar. Add the egg. Slowing add in the dry ingredients and buttermilk, alternating as you add. Finally, add the vanilla. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Finally, fold in the rhubarb/sugar mixture. Pour into a loaf pan and bake for one hour to an hour and fifteen minutes at 350 degrees.