In gardening action at 3 years old.

 One of my earliest childhood memories (say 3 or 4 years old) was eating directly from my Dad’s garden.  I would sneak to our backyard vegetable plot, and pull carrots before they were “officially” ready to harvest.  I would use my shorts to wipe them clean, and be in pure heaven as I bit into a “real” baby carrot, leftover grit and all.  When I close my eyes and think back, I can honestly feel the crunch, and taste the summer sweetness like it was yesterday.  I love food memories.  Grabbing a bowl of granulated sugar and making my way toward the rhubarb patch was another place you would often find the 3 year old me.  I’d get comfy on the grass and dip stocks directly into the bowl of white stuff.  To this day, I still love rhubarb, and have my own plants (given to me by my Dad).  On occasion you can still find me dipping a stock or two directly into the sugar bowl, something my youngest son also favours.  One day I hope to transplant a rhubarb bush from my garden to his, and continue this precious family tradition. 

The following recipe(s) makes a perfect early summer nibble to utilize rhubarb from the garden.  This is not an overly “sweet” loaf (typical loaf recipes use at least: 1 to 1 ½ cups (250 mL – 375 mL) sugar), as I like the flavour to come primarily from the “featured” and/or “from the garden ingredient”.  This recipe begins by making your own rhubarb “jam”.  The jam is then used as an ingredient in the loaf.  From my HAPPY, HEALTHY & VERY BUSY KITCHEN TO YOURS, ENJOY!   

Rhubarb, Vanilla & Cardamom Jam                           


Rhubarb; early summer garden grub at its finest. My Spiced Rhubarb Loaf with Coconut Crumble topping is delicious.

*yields about 1 cup (250 mL)     

4 cups (1 L) chopped fresh rhubarb

1/3 cup (75 mL) orange juice

½ vanilla bean

2 tbsp (30 mL) Redpath brown sugar

¼ tsp (1 mL) ground cardamom

Place rhubarb, orange juice and vanilla bean in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Cook stirring for about 5 minutes.  Add brown sugar and cardamom, and turn heat down to medium.  Cook while stirring for an additional 3 to 5 minutes until rhubarb resembles a jam consistency.  Remove from heat and cool.   Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Remove vanilla bean and discard.  Use jam on toast, topping for yogurt, ice-cream or in my spiced Rhubarb Loaf. 

*For a savoury “jam”, add 1 small finely chopped onion to rhubarb at beginning of cooking and 1 tbsp (15 mL) balsamic vinegar when adding brown sugar and cardamom.  Use jam on pork, chicken or serve as a condiment on a cheese platter. 

Spiced Rhubarb Loaf with Coconut Crumb Topping

¾ cup (175 mL) melted coconut oil (or softened butter or vegetable oil) *I use half melted coconut oil and softened butter 

½ cup (125 mL) Redpath brown sugar

½ tsp (2 mL) pure coconut extract

2 eggs

2 cups (500 mL) brown rice flour

½ cup (125 mL) large flake rolled oats

¼ cup (60 mL) unsweetened shredded coconut (*I like to use the large flakes)

2 tbsp (30 mL) chia seeds *optional

1 ½ tsp (7 mL) baking powder

½ tsp (2 mL) each; ground ginger and cinnamon

Pinch salt

Crumb Topping:  3 tbsp (45 mL) oats, 2 tbsp (30 mL) each; brown sugar and shredded coconut; hefty pinch of cinnamon and ginger and 1 tbsp (15 mL) melted butter or oil. Place all ingredients in a small bowl.  Using your finger tips, combine all ingredients and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).  In large bowl beat together first 4 ingredients.  Add dry ingredients and beat until combined (mixture may look a bit dry).  Add 1 cup (250 mL) prepared stewed rhubarb mixture (should be all of it) and mix until just combined.  Place batter in a parchment paper lined, or very well greased 9 X 5 inch (2 L) loaf pan.  Sprinkle crumb topping evenly on top.  Place in center of oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean.  Remove from oven and cool.  Makes 10 slices (*or consumed within minutes after my boys get home from school).

*Recipe written and developed by Charmaine Broughton.  charmainebroughton.com