For the last two months, school has been the word of which we do not speak around here. But around mid-August, we were forced to enter it back into our vocabulary, teachers and students alike wincing at its mention. So to try to make the end of summer more tolerable, I first convinced Eric that I would feel better (and that my whining would certainly stop) if we got Indian food from our favorite restaurant…twice…in one week. And then we Labor-Dayed it up right!
On Saturday, we spent the day with our dear friends Ben and Anika who live in Georgia but were in Minnesota for the week. They took us to Anika’s grandparents’ lake house, which was as beautiful as its surroundings. We spent the day on a boat, not swimming because it’s Minnesota, and the water was freezing. Instead, we cruised around the chain of lakes, got creative without a bottle opener, and ate our fill of summer.
In the evening, Anika, her beautiful grandmother, and I took a pontoon ride, which was outstandingly peaceful until the sun truly set and bats started swooping over the water and dangerously close to our heads. We ended the day with a rhubarb cake that her grandma had made (recipe below). Being new to rhubarb (I learned I liked it two springs ago), the cake was a new concept to me, and it was delicious. Moist and slightly tart from a thick layer of chopped rhubarb on the bottom, the top was less like a crumble and instead held together like a cake – a moist cake doused with cinnamon and sugar. The cinnamon and sugar topping bake into a light, crunchy layer, followed by a soft cake bite, followed by gooey rhubarb goodness. With fingers crossed, I asked her grandma for the recipe, hoping it wasn’t some grand family secret, and she recited it to me from memory. Sidenote: I hope one day I can be [grand]motherly enough to do this.
On Sunday, we went to the Minnesota State Fair with Eric’s family and ate ourselves into food bliss, which later felt more like a food coma. We hit the regulars: roasted corn, hand-cut french fries, Martha’s cookies, a brat that I basically made out with, and of course, my favorite and yours, deep fried cheese curds (sadly unpictured but never far from my heart).
This year, I tried the infamous deep-fried candy bars for the first time. You’ll notice from the picture below that while young-and-newly-dating Julia and David are gazing into each other’s eyes, the camera lens and I are deeply focused on the candy bar heaven awaiting us ahead.
Scenes from the non-edible portion of the Great Minnesota Get Together:
While I’m now back to work at the word of which we sometimes speak, and trying hard to adjust to a seasonal changes of both less free time and cooler weather, I’m so grateful for the summer I just had and its near perfect ending on Labor Day weekend.
Postscript: If anyone has deep fried their own cheese curds at home successfully and will tell me how, I will forever feel about you the way I felt about that brat.
Rhubarb Cake Recipe
3 c. chopped rhubarb (1/2 inch pieces – enough to thickly cover the bottom of the pan)
1 c. sugar, divided
1 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 stick melted butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
additional 1/2 c. sugar
Preheat oven to 350*.
Grease an 8×8 or 9×9 pan.
Cover the bottom of the pan with the chopped rhubarb. You want it to be about a 1/2 inch thick.
Pour a 1/2 cup sugar over the top of the rhubarb.
Mix 1c. flour, the other 1/2 c. sugar, the egg, and the baking powder together and dollop over the top of the rhubarb/sugar mixture in the pan.
Pour the 1 stick of melted butter over the dollops.
Combine another 1/2 c. sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle over the entire cake.
Bake at 350* for 40 minutes (the top will be lightly browned) and enjoy with vanilla icecream, or if fall is coming where you live, a hot cup of coffee.
-Note: do NOT let this cake bake for too long or the cinnamon/sugar topping will not only be ugly but will also taste like burnt gravel and the cake dollops will dry out and you will weep with regret.