Rhubarb Season & Rhubarb Recipes

It’s rhubarb season in Idaho!  And that means next year this time we’ll be cutting our first harvest from a new planting of rhubarb that grows near the front paws of the big beagle.  

Rhubarb grows below the big dog's front feet

Rhubarb is rather like zucchini – people seem to either really like it or they stay far away from these foods.  I happen to be fans of both.  Spring just doesn’t seem right without having fresh rhubarb sauce.  And summer could not exist without regular servings of sauteed baby zucchini for dinner.

Rhubarb Brown Sugar Muffins

Since Rhubarb Brown Sugar Muffins are a breakfast specialty I bake for our bed & breakfast guests, I raid neighbor’s rhubarb patches to gather in enough of the tangy fruit for a whole year’s supply.  Nothing goes to waste as all those big floppy rhubarb leaves make great green additions to our compost pile.  A quick wash of the stalks and then Dennis joins me in the kitchen as we chop & package the tart fruit for freezing.   Another evening or two later I have pies baked and delivered to my rhubard neighbors as thank you gifts.  It’s a spring ritual I would not wish to miss.

Basic Rhubarb Sauce

This is the sauce for rhubarb purists! 

4 cups washed & chopped rhubarb

1/4 – 1/2 cup water

2/3 – 1 cup sugar

pinch salt

Place all in a medium saucepan.  Bring to boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat & simmer for about 10 minutes until rhubarb is soft, stirring occasionally.  Serve warm or cold.  Good plain, over ice cream, with cereal and milk, or drizzle over pork or chicken cutlets during final minutes of cooking.

Rhubarb/Strawberry Sauce

This is a more elegant version with a milder rhubarb flavor.

4 cups washed & chopped rhubarb

1 cup washed & chopped strawberries

1/4 – 1/2 cup water

1 to 2 cups sugar

pinch salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 or 2 drops red food coloring.

Cook exactly the same as Basic Rhubarb Sauce recipe.  Let cool and enjoy!

Life couldn’t be better if there’s some rhubarb in it!!

A few words about our Breakfasts

Prairie's Best Fruited Granola & other breakast selections

Prairie's Best Fruited Granola & other breakast selections

Sweet nutty aromas of our freshly baked Prairie’s Best Fruited Granola drifting through the house prompt this article.  It is one of our featured breakfast selections.  Made in small batches with oatmeal, sunflower & seasame seeds, honey, canola oil & other healthful grains & nuts this recipe has been a family staple for over thirty years.  For our inn guests I add colorful bits of dried fruits such as cranberries, papaya, pineapple, & raisins.  Yummy with milk, yogurt, applesauce or eaten just plain like trail mix!

Another breakfast specialty is our home-baked yeast dough fruit filled coffee breads.  We like to use local fruits; often peaches, rhubarb, blackberries, nectarines, apples, huckleberries.   Some, like the blackberries & huckleberries grow wild along the river banks & and in the mountains nearby.  

Strawberry Huckleberry Cream Cheese Coffee Bread
Strawberry Huckleberry Cream Cheese Coffee Bread
Picking blackberries along Clearwater River
Picking blackberries along Clearwater River

This summer we have a quart of mountain harvested huckleberries, picked by our son on his way from Missoula, Montana to Idaho.  What a welcome surprise!  His visit, and the precious huckleberries which I am sharing with our guests in our coffee breads.

Healthful fruit muffins are another regular breakfast feature.  [By the way, all breakfast foods are in the big dog at time of guest check-in.  Either on the counter or in the undercounter refrigerator.  This allows guests to eat breakfast at a time & in the attire of their choosing.  At midnight and in their jammies if desired!]  Rhubard raisin or moist banana brown sugar muffins are guest favorites.
Rhubarb Muffins
Breakfasts are rounded out with plenty of fresh fruit, yogurts, cheeses, dry cereals, milk, vegetable & fruit juices, teas/coffee, etc.  I’ve always enjoyed cooking & it has been my pleasure to extend friendship to our guests through my signature healthful baked foods.

A few notes about being “green”, naturally

Being environmentally sensitive in our practices at Dog Bark Park has always been our practice  for both the bed & breakfast and the chainsaw art components of our business at Dog Bark Park.

This article will cover some of the ways we endeavor to be earth-friendly at the big dog bed & breakfast

1.  We use as earth friendly cleaning products as much as possible.  We wash windows, mirrors & other surfaces with vinegar solutions using reusable cotton cloths, for instance. 

2.  We do not use disposable dishes, preferring instead china dishes.  Drink glasses & serving dishes are clear glass and our cutlery is heavy shiny stainless. 

3.  Whenever possible we hang dry the laundry.  We do this not only to return precious moisture to the atmosphere & avoid unnecessary electric consumption, but because we enjoy the task.  What better way to spend a few moments than being under the fragrant boughs of a giant spruce tree that partially shades our clothes line.  When the breezes float through it is delicious evergreen music!   Additionally, we’ve found our guests enjoy the natural fragrance of sun-dried sheets.

Clematis flowers at clothesline

Clematis flowers at clothesline

  This week  we are also enjoying the pretty blossoms of a clematis vine that winds its way through the outer ends of our clothes lines.  The humidity in Idaho during summer is very low.  Most laundry items are dry in less than an hour’s time!

4.  We use very little pre-packaged food items, preferring instead to do the baking & cooking ourselves.  For instance, our Prairie’s Best Fruited Granola is made from bulk-food ingredients purchased from the local health food store. 

5.  Whenever possible we use locally grown foods to serve fresh or to bake into muffins & coffee breads.  Some summers we pick wild blackberries from along the banks of the Clearwater River. 

Picking Blackberries for Dog Bark Park pastries

Picking Blackberries for Dog Bark Park pastries

Sometimes we’re fortunate to find & pick precious Idaho mountain huckleberries to share them with our guests by baking them into our pastries.

Idaho Rhubarb Brown Sugar Muffins - a Guest Favorite

Idaho Rhubarb Brown Sugar Muffins - a Guest Favorite

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.  Exterior lights are on automatic dawn/dusk switches to avoid unnecessary usage.   Heating/cooling equipment is set to PowerSave until guests arrive.  We encourage natural cooling & warming  by opening/closing windows and window coverings, etc.

7.  Except for a small grassy area beneath the big beagle & a few selected plants, we do no outside watering at Dog Bark Park.   Most of our landscaping is natural field grasses, plus plantings of pines, maples, poplars & drought resistant shrubs & bulbs that must survive on Mother Nature’s weather & precipation. 

Blooming Sage & Honeysuckle Shrub
Blooming Sage & Honeysuckle Shrub

This sage, for instance, has grown from a tiny cutting to a lovely plant that now overflows its container.  We’re glad to share a cutting with any visitors that would like an easy, attractive plant.  The hummingbirds heavily visited the sage a few weeks ago when the blooms were prime.

We hardly could imagine the dry root honeysuckle sprig could grow nearly 10-feet tall as the planting instructions suggested.  After a decade, we are trimming these bushes to keep them managable!
Their berries are turning red right now adding color once again as the green leaves fade with summer’s heat.
Each year we see more bird life at Dog Bark Park as our grounds mature providing a variety of cover for them.  Yesterday we watched a family of California Quail traverse from our log yard along the perimeter tall grasses to the lower portion of our property below the big beagle where they pecked about in the mowed field grass until disappearing into tall rushes.  We see bluebirds, waxwings, finches, hawks, flickers, tree swallows, meadowlarks, owls,  and all the usual town birds.    Feels good to know Dog Bark Park is providing for the birds.  And, they in turn, are providing natural pest control along with the pleasures of their song and beauty.

Dog Bark Park Inn muffin recipe makes Natl. Cookbook

Rhubarb Brown Sugar Muffins

Rhubarb Brown Sugar Muffins

 The recipe for our Rhubarb Brown Sugar Muffins, a favorite with our guests, has  been published in The Best of Country Cooking 2009 cookbook published by the editors of Reiman Publications, a division of Reader’s Digest Magazine. 

Best of Country Cooking 2009

Best of Country Cooking 2009

We did not know our recipe

had been  selected until a copy of the cookbook arrived in the mail last week.  What a surprise!  We had not heard from Reiman Publication for nearly two years when the recipe had been included in an article about Dog Bark Park in their Country Woman Magazine. 

Fun that it is in print again!  Somehow though, between publications, our location was printed in the cookbook as being in Indiana instead of Idaho!   [Idaho (ID)  is  often confused with the other “I” states of Iowa (IA) and Indiana (IN)] Oh well!

Regardless,  we’re glad others might enjoy this recipe developed specifically for our bed & breakfast guests.  The book should be available to order on-line directly from Reiman Publications soon.  Or, be in touch with us & we’d be happy to order it for you.
To receive an e-mail copy of the Rhubarb Brown Sugar Muffins recipe send us an e-mail with Rhubarb Muffins in the subject line & we’ll forward it to you.