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Over two weeks ago, I mentioned in a post that my husband and I had gone blueberry picking.  This is where some of those berries landed, in the most delicious coffee cake in the world!  (Of course I speak with utter objectivity!)  The crumb topping is sweet and spicy, the blueberries juicy, and the cake moist.   What’s that, you say; you want the recipe?  I’m happy to share.  It is essentially the same recipe my mother and grandmother used, with a few changes for the 21st century! (Less sugar, more whole grain, yogurt.)  Look for it at the bottom of this post.

In the same Random Thoughts post, I wrote of my hopes that my tall balloon flower would spread.  Since then I have done some research and found that balloon flower does not spread by its roots, but can be propagated by seed or cutting.  So now, instead of clipping the flowers off the plant as soon as they wither, I will leave them on the plant to form seedpods.  After they dry, I will open them up to collect the tiny seeds inside.  Those should be left to dry on a paper towel for a few days, and stored until spring.  I’ll start some inside when I plant my tomato seeds, and hope to have a few more tall balloon flowers to add to my gardens next summer. 

The third item from that post on which I’m following up today is the rhubarb.  I wrote that I planned to make the rhubarb fool which I had seen demonstrated on The Today Show.  Not remembering the guest chef’s recipe exactly, here is what I did:

Mix four cups of chopped rhubarb (1 inch pieces) with the grated rind and freshly squeezed juice of one orange.  Cook and stir over medium heat until the rhubarb is tender. Remove from heat and stir in a cup of sugar (we like our rhubarb desserts tart so it was a very scant cup!) and half a teaspoon of ground ginger.  Set mixture in refrigerator to cool a bit.

Whip half a pint of heavy cream until soft peaks form, then beat in a teaspoon of vanilla and 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar.

Put 12 to 16 ginger snaps in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush them.  Do not let your 14 year old son do this!  He may pretend they are a bat and ball, and you may end up with ginger snap crumbs all over your floor!

For each serving, put about a quarter cup of rhubarb in a short glass or sundae dish, then a good dollop of cream.  Add another identical layer, and top with the ginger snap crumbs.  (Not the ones you had to sweep off the floor after the bag broke!)

We found this particularly delicious when the rhubarb sauce was barely warm, almost room temperature, and the cream was icy cold.Now here is the Blueberry Coffee Cake recipe:

1/4 cup soft butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cups sugar                                                                                                          2 eggs                                                                                                                     1/2 cup sour milk (sometimes I use buttermilk, sometimes I use part vanilla yogurt and part sour milk–comes out the same regardless.  I’ve never used just fresh milk, though!)                                                                                                                   1/2 tsp. baking soda                                                                                                 1/2 tsp. salt                                                                                                                 2 1/2 cups flour (I use half unbleached all purpose and half white whole wheat, and sometimes throw a handful of milled flax seed in for good measure.) 
1 tsp. vanilla                                                                                                               2 1/2 to 3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 350 (F).  Coat a 9 x 13 baking pan with non-stick spray.

Cream butter, oil, and sugar.  Beat in eggs.  Blend dry ingredients together and add them to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk.  Stir just until all of the ingredients are moist.  Add vanilla and blueberries.  Spread batter in pan.

Mix together until crumbly:

1/2 cup sugar                                                                                                           1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar                                                                              3 Tblsp. flour                                                                                                           1/4 cup soft butter                                                                                                        1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon                                                                                                  3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Spread this evenly on top of batter.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted two inches from the edge comes out clean.  Delicious warm, but even better and moister the next day!

Bon appetit!