Last year, I was in Boston visiting family when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. The United States would close its borders and anyone travelling was advised to get home immediately. I aborted my trip, grabbed a flight home, north to Nova Scotia. Strains of Coronavirus only grew louder and stronger as the year passed, and more restrictions kept everyone on in lockdown. Masks, physical distancing, and handwashing are now our new norm. It is with these thoughts in mind that I welcome the first fruits and vegetables of the season. I welcome them like never before as they impose their innate order on our crazy world. I can only hope that this order will breathe much-needed life back into the entire planet – if only! Rhubarb with its early shoots of red and green is working hard to push its way through the ground and greet the new day. Its tangy flavor will not be denied. Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!

Ingredients

3 cups sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb (1-inch pieces)
1 quart fresh strawberries – mashed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch

Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter – cut into pieces
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs – room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar

Instructions

In a large saucepan, combine rhubarb, strawberries, and lemon juice. Cover and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes. Combine sugar and cornstarch; stir into saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla; stir into crumb mixture. Spread half of the batter evenly into a greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Carefully spread filling on top. Drop remaining batter by tablespoonfuls over filling. For topping, melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat; stir in flour and sugar until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter. Lay foil on lower oven rack to catch any juice spillovers. Place coffee cake on middle rack; bake 40-45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Ith do shàth!
Cabrini

cabrini@celticlife.com


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