Alpaca, Rhubarb & Recipes!

by - 3:53 PM

I love alpacas. Any chance I can, I usually try to head to the farm and play with them. Everything about alpacas are amazing from their fur to their antics. I love to knit, crochet, and felt with alpaca. I just love going out and spending time watching these cute but funny creatures. I am fortunate to have a friend who lives not too far down who has an alpaca farm. She is unfortunately moving down to Texas soon and I will miss her and her alpaca dearly, but until then I will try to visit frequently.
Yesterday, I took a couple of friends out to the farm to check on my friend after a nasty fall she took and of course, to see the alpacas. After making sure she was ok and seeing her battle wounds, we headed out back to go play with the newest baby as well as feed the girls and guys. There is a baby who is a little over a month old now who is just the cutest. I saw him just a couple days after he was born and I could just eat him up. While some people have baby fever, I have alpaca fever.

We spent a little bit of time playing around and feeding them. After moving the girls from the smaller pen to the larger field, we were getting ready to leave when she asked us if we wanted to get some goodies from the garden. The past couple visits, I was sent home with an abundance of vegetables. From green beans to cucumbers and everything in between. You won't ever hear me complain because a) the price of vegetables is getting outrageous b) we only have room for a couple potted plants in our place and c) I absolutely love fresh vegetables. The one thing I have stocked up on is the rhubarb. I am a sucker for anything and everything rhubarb. On my last visit, I ended up getting about 30 lbs of rhubarb and made jams, jellies and cobbler. You can only imagine the ideas going through my head of what to make with the latest batch of rhubarb. We had a lot of rhubarb. A LOT...
CW and myself picking rhubarb
Our latest harvest
The interesting thing about rhubarb is that you either love it or hate it. I love rhubarb cooked but I really don't like it raw at all. And the leaves shouldn't be ingested as they are poisonous. Growing up, my husband used to dip raw rhubarb in sugar and eat it just as it is. That just sounds terrible to me. I first started playing around with rhubarb in college and made a delicious strawberry rhubarb compote that I put on vanilla ice cream. It was the most delicious thing I had ever made. I had no clue that such a weird looking vegetable (yes, it is a vegetable) could be so amazingly tasty. I ended up getting more adventurous and trying out new recipes. From breads and muffins to jams and jellies, I became obsessed with rhubarb. Not quite as much as I love alpaca, but a whole lot! With this last batch, I cleaned and cut it and put a good bit in the freezer so that if I ever want to randomly make something with rhubarb, I have a bag on hand. I mean, who doesn't keep rhubarb in the freezer year round?
The problem with rhubarb is that not many people know how to cook or bake with it. I've made it easy on you and I have shared a variety of recipes that I absolutely love. Hopefully you'll get some neat ideas of what to make for your next potluck or what to make for dessert tonight. If you make any of these recipes, let me know what you think and how delicious it was! And if you don't like rhubarb, give one of these a try because they will certainly change your mind on this red stalky vegetable.
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups large oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cold butter (cut into pieces)
4 cups strawberries (diced)
3 cups rhubarb (chopped)
1 tablespoon corn starch
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9x13" pan with tin foil, lightly greased.
In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, oats and flour until mixed.
Add the butter and mix with an electric mixer. (The dough will have the texture of cookie dough)
Set aside 1 cup of the oatmeal cookie mixture. Press the rest of the mixture into the bottom of the greased pan. Bake bottom crust for 8-10 minutes or until slightly dry on top.
In the same bowl, mix your strawberries, rhubarb, corn starch and sugar. Spread on top of crust and crumble the remaining oat mixture on top. (It won't cover the top completely)
Bake for 30-35 minutes until the filling is bubbly and thickened.
Cool to room temperature.
*Notes: You can cut these into bars or you can scoop it out of the container and put it in a bowl warmed up with some vanilla ice cream. You can also just eat it warmed up as a cobbler for breakfast
Cream Cheese Rhubarb Banana Bread
3/4 cup butter
8 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup mashed bananas (2 large or 3 small)
1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 bread pans and set aside.
Cream the butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer. Gradually add the sugar, beating well to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter/cream cheese mixture until just combined. Add the vanilla and mashed bananas, mixing on low. Fold in the rhubarb until they are fully mixed into the batter. Divide the batter between the pans. Bake for 60 minutes. Upon the last 15 minutes of baking, cover with foil to prevent any excess browning. Bake until the knife or toothpick comes out clean. Remove pans to a rack and cool bread.
Gelatin Free Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
4 1/2 cups rhubarb (cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
6 cups white sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 1/2 cups fresh strawberries (halved)

Mix rhubarb and sugar in a large pot and let stand for 2 hours. Stir in the lemon juice and strawberries. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set heat to medium-high and cook jam at a rolling boil until thickened. Make sure to stir often to prevent burning. Remove jam from heat and stir for a couple more minutes. Pour jam into clean jars and place lids on upon cooling.
*Notes: These can be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks. This recipe should not sit in the jars in the cabinet unless you plan on sealing the jars by rapid boiling or using a canning process.

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