Cabana Boy cooks

By Barry Beacom

I grew up in Sioux City, IA with six brothers and two sisters. I was in the middle when all nine finally got there. In our backyard, we had a garden plot that was roughly 20 feet by 40-45 feet. We raised a lot of produce in that garden.

In one corner of it, we had an area of about three by 10 feet that was just for rhubarb and it was bountiful. And I was in heaven because I think rhubarb is probably my favorite fruit. It’s at least in the top three.

My mother made rhubarb this and rhubarb that all summer. Plus, we had extra to cut up and freeze for during the winter. Unfortunately, never enough for the winter.

She made rhubarb sauce, rhubarb pies, rhubarb crisp, rhubarb cake and rhubarb bars to name a few of the ways she used rhubarb.

She made a Rhubarb-Cherry Jam that I still make today. It’s addictive so people tell me. In fact, my youngest granddaughter requests it for her birthday and Christmas as gifts. And not just one jar, but the number of her age in jars plus a half dozen for Christmas.

There are close to 10 rhubarb recipes of one kind or another on my food blog. Just look under the headings of “Desserts & Baking” or “Odds ‘n’ Ends” to find them. The blog address is below.

If you don’t have a rhubarb plant in your yard, you should consider getting one. It won’t produce much until the third year, but after that you should enjoy a good amount each year.

Remember that you never cut it to harvest. Get near the bottom of a rib and gently pull it. If it doesn’t come easy, it’s not ready to harvest. Cut the big green leaf off and a little off the bottom and you’re ready. Wash it to clean and dice it up. That big green leaf is poisonous to your pets, so be careful.

If you desire to freeze any rhubarb, clean, dice and put in a zip-lock freezer bag. I use the quart size and it will hold 4 to 5 cups. Enough for most recipes.

I personally add extra to each recipe I make. If it calls for three cups, I’ll use about four. If it’s four cups, I’m about five. But remember I really like rhubarb.

If you don’t have rhubarb in your yard, you can always buy it. At farmers markets, someone is usually selling it. Grocery stores usually have it at least in season if not more. As a last resort there is always the freezer section of the grocery store to try.

So give rhubarb a try and enjoy.

For those interested, my cookbook, “More Than Your First Cookbook” is available in Maryville at the Nodaway News Leader office.

You can also find over 900 recipes and a lot of helpful information for functioning in your kitchen on my food blog at

Triple-Layer Rhubarb Dessert

9 servings

1 C. flour
1/3 C. powdered sugar
1/3 C. unsalted butter

11⁄4 C. granulated sugar
1/3 C. flour
1⁄2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
3 C. rhubarb, chopped (fresh or frozen)

3⁄4 C. flour
1⁄2 C. sugar
1⁄4 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup unsalted butter

Crust: In a medium bowl, combine the flour and powdered sugar. Using a pastry blender or a fork, cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into bottom of an ungreased 9×9 baking dish. Bake in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Note: Crust will be only partially done.

Filling: In a medium bowl, combine the filling ingredients and blend well using a fork. Pour filling over the partially baked crust.

Topping: In another medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Use a pastry blender or a fork and cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs over the filling. Bake in the pre-heated 350-degree oven for an additional 55-60 minutes or until the topping is light golden brown and the rhubarb is tender. Let sit 10-15 minutes to cool some before cutting and serving.

Note: It’s best served warm. I also like topping it with ice cream or whipped topping.