A layer of creamy, tangy sweet custard forms the base of this easy to make Rhubarb Custard Cake.
Have you ever played the game 2 Truths and a Lie? It’s a classic icebreaker, where someone shares two true statements about themselves along with one lie, and everyone else in the group has to guess which one is the lie.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had my stock answers:
I once cleaned a gas station bathroom.
I was a starting forward on my high school basketball team.
and my grandparents grew up Amish.
Want to guess which one is a lie?
The first one is (disturbingly) true. It happened on a high school mission trip where we set out to surprise local businesses with extraordinary acts of service. Cleaning a gas station bathroom (for free!), seemed about as extraordinary as we could get. The look on the manager’s face when we asked if we could clean his bathroom almost made it worth it. Still, I wouldn’t mind NEVER doing that again.
The second one? Definitely a lie. While I spent nearly ever summer of my growing up years at basketball camp, my love for the game never translated into actual talent. I think my high school (and everyone else) is very glad I decided to stick with watching, and not playing, basketball.
Then comes the last one, which, obviously, the second truth. My grandparents on both sides were raised Amish, but left the church as young adults. They remained in the conservative Mennonite faith for the remainder of their lives, and passed on the values of that community to my parents and on to me. I credit at least some of my love for food and gathering at the table to my Mennonite heritage. If you ever find yourself at a Mennonite family reunion, you can count on at least one thing: there will be plenty of food, and it will all be delicious.
Though I’ve branched out to cook and enjoy recipes from many different cultures, I still have a soft spot in my heart for the comfort foods I grew up with–Amish Apple Fry Pies, Amish Chicken and Noodles, and the best Homemade Amish White Bread, just to name a few.
That’s why I was thrilled to discover the new Amish Community Cookbook, filled with recipes gathered from Amish and Mennonite cooks across the U.S. and Canada. I spent an evening flipping through the pages, dog-earring recipes I knew I had to make. The book is filled with classics like Chicken Pot Pie and Ham and Bean Soup, but also has a few surprises (Dandelion Salad, anyone)? Alongside traditional Amish desserts like Shoofly Pie was this unexpected recipe simply titled Fresh Rhubarb Dessert. I scanned through the ingredients and was shocked and intrigued to discover there were only four, with one of them being cake mix.
It might surprise you to find cake mix in an Amish recipe, but sometimes Amish families need shortcuts just as much as the rest of us (and maybe even more)! While I love to bake from scratch, there are days when a quick cake mix dessert is all I have time for. And when that day comes, I guarantee you I’m going to come back to this Easy Rhubarb Custard Cake again and again.
Wonderfully moist and perfectly sweet with a hint of tang from the rhubarb, this cake is made by sprinkling cake mix batter with sugared rhubarb then pouring whipping cream over top. Honestly, I felt almost certain this wasn’t going to turn out. It felt positively wrong to drench a cake in cream, but I trusted whoever contributed this recipe knew what they were doing. Sure enough, the cake was a beauty. After 45 minutes, the cream and rhubarb had sunk to the bottom, forming a wonderful custard layer topped with fluffy, golden cake. I dove into the cake warm, because I have no self control around fresh baked goods, and it was heavenly. I almost always prefer baked goods warm over cold, and this one is no different. However, if you refrigerate the cake for a few hours, the custard layer firms up and allows you to serve up neater slices, with a more pronounced and pretty layer of pink custard. The cold cake almost takes on the texture of a tres leches cake, where every morsel is soaked in rich cream. It’s really a delightful cake, and a great way to use up rhubarb. I’m so glad to add this quick and delicious recipe to my arsenal!
If you’re interested in checking out the cookbook for yourself, you can order the Amish Community Cookbook here.
Easy Rhubarb Custard Cake
12 adjust servings
0:45 2017-05-25T00:45:00+00:00Prep Time
0:15 2017-05-25T00:15:00+00:00Cook Time
1:00 2017-05-25T01:00:00+00:00 Total Time
This creamy, fluffy rhubarb custard cake is so simple to make and is a lovely recipe for spring!
- 4 cups chopped rhubarb
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 yellow cake mix + Ingredients for making the cake mix
- 2 cups whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a 9 x 13 inch cake pan.
Place the rhubarb in a bowl and sprinkle sugar over top. Allow to sit while you prepare the other ingredients. Prepare the cake mix according to package instructions then pour the batter into the prepared pan. Toss together the rhubarb and sugar then sprinkle evenly on top. Pour the cream over the entire top.
Place the cake in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until top is set and a toothpick comes out clean (the bottom third of the cake will still be wet so don't base the toothpick test on that portion). Serve the cake warm (it will be messy!), or chill for a few hours or overnight to have neater slices.
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These Bánh Mì Burgers with Quick Pickled Carrots and Daikon were developed in partnership with Ohio Beef. As always, all opinions are my own.
Last week I had the opportunity to visit several beef farms here in Ohio. One of the things I love about living in Columbus is we enjoy all the benefits of big city living while only being a 45 minute drive from country life. I grew up in a rural community surrounded by cornfields, so while I love city life, something about wide open fields, silos, and the faint scent of cow manure will always feel like home.
Just a little south of the city, we met the Jepsens and the Hoffmans, first and second generation beef cattle farmers. Every time I have the opportunity to speak with a farmer, I come away with renewed respect for the incredibly difficult but important job they have. I was grateful to have the chance to speak with each family, and was amazed by their transparency and openness about the entire process of raising, butchering, and bringing beef to our tables. These men and women have an impressive level of expertise about everything from cow behavior and biology to efficient, sustainable land usage. They work long hours in 90 degree heat and below freezing temperatures. No one becomes a farmer because they want to make a lot of money and live a super comfortable life. You have to have a passion for this type of work, and that passion was evident in both farmers we spoke to. The Jepsens and Hoffmans are just two of the 17,000 beef family farmers who are committed to providing excellent care of their animals and protecting the environment for future generations, often without thanks or recognition for the vital role they play in bringing safe, quality food to our tables.
After meeting with local beef farmers, we had the pleasure of dining and cooking with Peter Chapman, Regional Chef at Cameron Mitchell restaurants. In about a 36 hour window, we tried beef in about 10 different forms, some familiar and some not so familiar. We had roasts and ribeyes, meatballs and carpaccio, hangar steak and shepherd’s pie. Everything was carefully made and artfully plated. You might think in a line up this exquisite the humble burger couldn’t stand up, but you’d be wrong. Even amidst a sea of lovely and delectable beef dishes, the simple burger held it’s own, enticing all of us with it’s rich flavor and dribble-down-the-chin-juiciness.
I’ve made a lot of good burgers over the years (these All American Bacon Cheeseburgers and Red Wine Burgers with Caramelized Onions come to mind), but these Bánh Mì Burgers are a new favorite.
If you’re not familiar with the traditional bánh mì sandwich, here’s a quick run down. This Vietnamese favorite is stacked with juicy roasted pork and pickled vegetables, typically a combination of carrots, daikon radish, and sometimes cucumber. It often has a spicy mayonnaise based sauce and fresh herbs like cilantro and mint. It’s fresh and crunchy, with a range of textures and tastes to enjoy.
To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure how the bright, sweet and sour flavors of a classic báhn mì would convert to burger form, but it turns out beef and pickled vegetables belong together. The puckery crunch of the carrots and daikon really helps balance out the richness of the beef. Think about how dill pickles give a burger that hint of crunch and acidity, now multiply that effect by about five. It’s perfection. Pair it with fresh jalapeno slices (for those how can handle the extra heat), fresh cilantro, and a spicy Sriracha mayo and you have yourself one heck of a burger.
A few notes on the process: Normally bánh mì vegetables need to sit for several hours or days to get their trademark sweet and sour flavor. The problem is, sometimes you need a bánh mì burger TONIGHT. That’s where these quick pickled vegetables come in. Made in the time it takes you to fry up the hamburgers and set the table, these vegetables are ready to go in 30 minutes. However, if you happen to have the time (and foresight) to make classic pickled vegetables, I recommend checking out the White on Rice Couple’s Vietnamese Pickled Vegetable recipe.
I like to use a mixture of carrots, daikon radish, and cucumber for these burgers, but you can omit the cucumber if you prefer. I was able to find daikon at my local Kroger, but if you have trouble finding it, I think you could substitute red radishes with good results!
The quick pickled vegetables stay good for a few days, and make enough for 6 (heavily loaded) sandwich. If you need less, I recommend halving the recipe.
To make perfect grilled burgers, be sure to preheat your grill to at least 450 degrees. The high heat gives the meat a nice sear. After a minute, you can reduce the heat to around 350 for the remainder of the cooking time. I like to shape the beef patties, then put a small thumbprint in the center so they cook evenly and don’t get that domed shape typical of homemade burgers. Most importantly, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, smash, poke, prod or otherwise torment your patties while they’re cooking. This causes all those delicious juices to escape and end up in the bottom of your grill rather than in your mouth where you want them. Leave the patties alone (besides flipping and testing for temperature), and you’ll be rewarded with tender, juicy burgers everyone will love.
Banh Mi Burgers
cup shredded carrots (about 3 large carrots)
cup daikon radish (about 1 daikon)
cup cucumber ((about 1 English cucumber)
Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
teaspoon Kosher salt
For the burgers
lbs. ground beef
teaspoon Kosher salt
- In a large bowl, toss together the carrots, radish, cucumber, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes. If you're preparing this ahead of time, cover and refrigerate. Note: It will smell horrendous the following day, but will still be good to eat. You've been warned.
- Preheat the grill to 450 degrees. For the burgers, gently mix the salt into the ground beef using your fingers. Shape into 5 patties and place a small thumbprint divot in the center of each one. Grill the burgers for about a minute on high heat, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue to grill until liquid starts to form on the top of the burger and it easily lifts off the grate. Flip and grill until the internal temperature reaches 145 for medium rare or 160 for medium well.
- To serve, place the burgers in buns and top with cilantro, jalapenos, and pickled vegetables. Mix together the mayonnaise and sriracha and spread on top.
I sank into the cushions of my couch, feeling the full weight of two rounds of colds in our household in the last month. My little guy was sleeping, and I longed to do the same. The pillows stared back at me like temptresses, willing me to rest my weary head. I couldn’t resist. I grabbed our fuzziest blanket, curled up, and buried my face in the fluffiest pillow in the pile. And that’s when I heard it. My inner mom voice.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. You aren’t going to take a nap, are you?’
“Have you looked at this house lately? It’s a pig sty!”
“The baby is sleeping. This is your only chance. Those dishes aren’t going to do themselves!”
“Oh, and don’t forget about dinner prep. You’ve been eating waaaay too much mac and cheese around here. We don’t want little P to grow up addicted to sugar and carbs now, do we? By the way, when’s the last time your son ate something green? You really aren’t pushing those veggies enough. He’s probably already on the path to obesity!”
On and on the little voice rattles, until I drag myself up off the couch and pick up a vacuum or a sponge or my laptop and get back to work.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about that voice. I don’t know about you, but sometimes my inner monologue sounds more like a 17 year old mean girl than a grown adult mother. Sure, she seems well meaning enough at first. She appears to want what’s best for me and my family. None of what she says to me is necessarily wrong. Sometimes my house really does need cleaned. Sometimes I can’t remember the last vegetable my son ate. Sometimes I really could use a good workout.
But here’s the thing about my inner mean girl. She‘s never satisfied. I can do yoga and scrub the floors and lose weight and attend all the toddler development play dates in the world, and she’ll still tell me I’m not enough. Like Regina George dressed in pepto-bismol pink, she seems pure and good and sweet until she rips your heart to shreds. My inner mean mom paralyzes me with guilt when I take an hour to read or watch Netflix or, God forbid, take a nap. She tells me everyone else is getting along so much better than me, and why can’t I just do ALL THE THINGS like so-and-so seems to (so easily) do?
This voice is not driven by love for my child or myself (a lie that’s quite easy to believe), but by judgmental comments, comparison shopping, and jealousy. It gets it’s power from articles like “5 Ways to Make Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by 4 Months” or “How to Raise an Angel Baby Who Never Cries and Will Definitely Never Have an Epic Meltdown in a Target.” Even articles telling us to ignore the dirty dishes and “be really present” can feel like eternal judgments on our parenting. According to the Internet, when I’m cleaning, I should feel guilty about not soaking up precious minutes of my child’s life, and when I’m busy “being present” I should feel stressed about the food hardening to diamond-like strength on last night’s dinner dishes.
My mean girl lurks behind the noise of tractor toys and Bob the Builder (“ah, ah, ah, better be careful about that screen time!”), laying on the sarcasm and the judgement wherever she can. She’s Regina, only perhaps worse, since she’s armed with a decade’s worth of expectations about what “good moms” or “good women” do (or don’t do).
Here’s the thing. We all know our inner Regina isn’t good. She’s a life ruiner, remember? It may not be the most “fetch” lesson we learned from Mean Girls, but it’s just as important. Mean girls steal our joy and destroy our relationships, making them nothing more than a game of jealousy and comparison.
Deep down, I know that judgmental, condescending voice taking up space in my brain and heart isn’t my real voice. The reason I know that is because it sounds completely different from the voice I use with my own child when I’m at my best. My genuine voice, the one that loves my little one so much it hurts, is full of tenderness and grace, patience and good humor. That voice doesn’t condemn or shame or weigh down with guilt. Instead, it gently leads, corrects, affirms, and encourages. It assumes we’re on the same team. We are a work in progress, but we’re growing and learning together. I expect there to be mistakes made along the way, lessons to be learned, and consequences to learn them from. But my truest inner mom, or at least the mom I long to be, doesn’t ever want my child’s life to be ruled by guilt and unmet expectations. I want him to grow up joyfully believing he is fearfully and wonderfully made and loved exactly as he is–imperfections and all.
I want to say I’m DONE listening to my mean mom voice, but even as I make that declaration, I hear her whispering, “You can’t do it. You’ll just go back to the way you’ve always been. You NEED me.”
And you know what? She’s right. I will fail. I will continue to hear her voice, and sometimes I will listen to it. That doesn’t mean I am a failure. That means I am a human. Because I’m human, I will sometimes fail. I will yell. I’ll use the TV as a crutch. I’ll eat junk food too many days in a row. I’ll look at my phone too much. I’ll clean when I should be playing or play when I should be cleaning. I’ll make mistakes I don’t even realize I’m making until years later. Perfection is not an option, despite what Instagram or Pinterest would have us believe. The only option we have is our response, the voice we choose to listen to. We can talk to ourselves like Regina George on a power trip or meet ourselves with the same grace and gentleness we long to give our own children. This Mother’s Day my heart is so tender towards all of you who are battling the same mean girl I have in my head. This motherhood business is hard enough without listening to a mean girl judging you all day long. Be kind and take care of yourself this year.
Take a nap.
Read a book.
Go to Target by yourself.
Write or paint or work out or hike or garden.
And when you make a mistake or feel like you’re failing, treat yourself with the same tenderness you give your own children. Because the truth is you are a child too, sweet friend. And you are just as precious as them. Our heavenly Father doesn’t want His children to live with the crushing weight of guilt, envy, or impossible expectations. If you can quiet the mean girl long enough, you’ll hear the whisper of the truth–you are fearfully and wonderfully made and loved exactly as you are, failures and all.