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Cooking Corner

Written By: Ellen Kleven  |  Posted: Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Are you looking for another way to use that rhubarb that's growing prolifically in the back yard? If you are, or even if you just love the taste of rhubarb, then you'll want to give this recipe a try. Kristi Culver, who lives and works on Culver Farms, makes these bars just about everyday during this time of the year. The men who work on the farm can't seem to get enough of them and they never stick around for too long.
Culver Farms is located in Bloomer, Wisconsin where they specialize in organic, self-sustaining dairy farming. The farm consists of about 1700 acres of land on which they raise around 250 milk cows with up to 200 of them milking at a time. When you see the "Organic Valley" name brand label on dairy products in the store, remember the Culvers, as that is where their milk is going.
Kristi married into the Culver family just a few years ago and enjoys what she does, "I love that it's not a job, it's a lifestyle." Her life on the farm is always busy and full; she cares for four little ones, the house, her husband, the garden, and even feeds the calves everyday! During our time spent together for the interview she was constantly needed by someone, whether it was her six-month-old baby girl, or one of the men on the farm calling to see where her husband Scott might be.
Kristi enjoys the time she spends in the kitchen and whenever the children see her starting to cook, they run to grab their own aprons and stools to help out. Although it can be challenging to have two or three pairs of hands eager to "help", she realizes that it's all a part of their training. The oldest, Kaitlyn, is now capable of making basic things like eggs and toast without assistance, of which Kristi exclaimed, "It's paying off!" Much of what she loves about farm life (even outside the kitchen) is the wonderful environment it provides for the children as they can learn how to work hard, spend time together, and see first hand where food comes from.
Much of Kristi's own knowledge of cooking and baking came from cooking alongside her own mother and grandmother. She remembers baking bread regularly with her mother and learning how to can various items with her grandmother. Even as a pre-teen, she and her younger sister would take turns preparing meals for the family.
The enjoyments that Kristi derives from cooking are ones that seem to be common themes among many women I've spoken with: cooking is an excellent outlet for creativity and it just makes people happy! Being a busy mother, Kristi necessarily looks for recipes that are healthy, easy to make, and taste good to the children. She does love to make some ethnic foods as well, especially noting Nepalese food, as she spent much time there as a younger woman helping her missionary uncle and his family.
Her next quest in the farmhouse kitchen is going to be trying to make raw milk cheeses. She has already accomplished the art of yogurt making, something she picked up soon after her marriage and move to the farm. In addition to all she already does, Kristi also enjoys reading, quilting, basket making, raising chickens, and gardening. The recipe she chose for this article is one that uses the rhubarb that grows right on the farm, and these bars have been made by various women in the Culver family for many years. The final recipe here is a combination of what Kristi thinks is the best of all the variations she's learned from the different ladies who make it.
When baking these bars, Kristi uses half whole-wheat flour and half unbleached white flour, evaporated organic cane juice, and whole milk. She cautioned against putting in too much rhubarb, noting that while it has been successfully prepared with up to 5 cups of rhubarb, adding too much may not allow the sauce to set properly (because of the rhubarb's water content). If you find yourself with too much rhubarb on hand and don't want it to go to waste, you can always cut it up and freeze it for later use.

Rhubarb Bars

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