Rhubarb Lemon Loaf

I love rhubarb. Partly because of its perfectly tart taste but also because it signals that summer is on its way. Gone are the days of trolling the produce aisle for limp lettuce and sad root vegetables. Rhubarb brings with it asparagus and then strawberries and then a summer full of beautiful local produce at the farmers market.

I've reached the point where I've tried all the somewhat logical methods of inducing labour (pre-pregnant Hillary believed that babies come when they're ready, million-weeks-pregnant Hillary is desperately hoping that eating a pineapple near the ocean under the light of a full moon is what will get this party started) and now I'm firmly planted in old wives' tales territory.

Which brings me to the rhubarb.

According to family lore, eating rhubarb is a natural way to induce labour. The internet is less supportive of this claim but like I said, reason left this party weeks ago.

This loaf is tart and zingy. It's perfect with a giant latte for breakfast but it also shines as some next-level strawberry shortcake (pile sliced strawberries and mounds of freshly whipped cream on top of cooled slices).

Adapted from this recipe.

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk + 1-1/2 teaspoon lemon juice)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/2 cups fresh rhubarb, sliced approximately 1/4" thick

Streusel Topping (optional)*
1 Tablespoon melted butter
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 9"x5" loaf pan.

Whisk together flour, lemon zest, baking soda, and salt.

In separate bowl, whisk together egg, brown sugar, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.

Gently mix flour mixture into wet ingredients with a rubber spatula, just until moistened. Fold in rhubarb.

Mix together streusel topping ingredients until crumbly.

Spread half of the loaf batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle half of the streusel topping over batter. Spoon remaining batter into pan and top with remaining streusel topping.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 - 65 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

*If you're not a fan of streusel crumb toppings, leave it out and keep your loaf naked. Another alternative is mixing together 1/2 - 1 cup icing sugar with a few teaspoons of lemon juice to make a glaze that you pour over your still-warm-from-the-oven loaf. If you do the glaze method, I recommend using your toothpick to cover the surface of your loaf in tiny holes that the glaze can seep into for maximum flavour. 


Psyllium Husk Powder Brownies

I haven't written too much about Grady's digestive system issues here* because really, what is there to say? Grady is a fairly picky eater and we refuse to engage in daily battles over food. Every day we offer him a variety of different foods and every day he eats a combination of macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, apples, bananas, and yogurt. It's frustrating and also completely normal for his age (and temporary! I keep reminding myself. This won't last forever. It can't.).

* I do all my hand wringing over on Twitter using the #poopdoula hashtag.

Grady's doctor is aware of the situation and is supportive of our "offer different foods but don't try to force him to eat them" approach. The situation is not (yet) dire and as long as we stay on top of it, hopefully it won't progress past the "annoying and uncomfortable" stage before it improves.

Last week Grady's doctor gave me a sheet of recipes to try using psyllium husk. Psyllium husk is a soluble fibre that creates a gel instead of bulk so it's good for helping to relieve constipation. I think. I'm unwilling to google because I already know too much about kid poop as it is.

The Experiment

I didn't have the right ingredients to make any of the recipes so I decided to just add psyllium husk powder to my go-to brownies recipe. I wasn't sure how to go about it so I decided to just add the same amount of psyllium husk as flour and hope for the best. I didn't add any additional liquid because I wasn't sure if it was necessary (looking at the recipes given to me, the quantity of flour + psyllium is quite high compared to the liquid and fat). The only changes I made to the recipe are:

  1. I added 1/2 cup psyllium husk powder.
  2. I mixed the dry ingredients together in a bowl before adding to the liquid ingredients because I wanted to make sure everything was mixed well.
  3. I added 1/2 cup chocolate chips to the batter because I wanted to make sure Grady would eat the brownies, even if he could taste the psyllium husk.

The Verdict

The batter was very thick. I think that 1/4 cup of milk or water or even apple sauce would help. The brownies are a tad on the dry side and I think adding some liquid would alleviate that. The psyllium husk is not tasteless but it's not overpowering. It adds a slightly nutty/grainy flavour to the brownies but it's not offensive. Grady is a bit wary (the brownies taste different than the brownies he's used to) but not opposed. I am cautiously optimistic that the poop brownies are going to help.

Psyllium Husk Power Brownies  || Hillarywith2Ls

Black Bean Brownies

I know. You guys. I know. Black bean brownies. Why even bother, right? I'd heard about black bean brownies for years but never bothered to try them (because why?) and then my office hosted a healthy baking day so I relented. They're fine. I mean, they're not exactly "healthy" because they're full of sugar but the lack of flour (plus the goodness of black beans) makes them healthier than traditional brownies. Plus I think they're gluten-free? Don't quote me on that. Do beans have gluten? Whatever. They don't taste beany. That was my major concern.

I started with this recipe and made some tweaks. This is what I ended up with:


1 15-oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed very well
3 eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons brewed espresso or strong coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9"x9" square baking pan.

In food processor or blender, buzz all ingredients except chocolate chips and walnuts together until very smooth. Batter should look just like brownie batter.

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth. Sprinkle chocolate chips and walnuts evenly over the top.

Bake for 28 - 33 minutes until toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Store in the fridge for a dense, fudgy brownie.

Listen, if you know me at all you probably got all wide-eyed and "whaaaaat?" when you read the bit about the walnuts. I strongly believe nuts do not have a place in baked goods. Especially brownies. But I was concerned about the brownies tasting beany so I decided I embrace the healthy aspect of black bean friggin' brownies and add the nuts. If you hate nuts in baked goods as much as I do, skip them and up the chocolate chips to 1/2 cup.


Whipped Orange Shortbread Cookies

I first made my friend, Angella's, whipped shortbread six or seven years ago and it was added to my yearly Christmas baking schedule immediately. The recipe is wonderful as-is but over the years I've made a few tweaks. The orange zest makes it taste more Christmassy (if that's even possible) and if you're feeling fancy you can drizzle on some dark chocolate for extra punch.

One quick note about this recipe: a stand mixer is a must. You can try to use an electric hand mixer in a pinch but be prepared for a tired arm.

Whipped Orange Shortbread

Makes 5-1/2 dozen

1 lb unsalted butter, softened
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 orange, finely grated

Preheat oven to 325F.

Whip butter.

Add remaining ingredients. Whip for at least 10 minutes, pushing the batter down the sides of the bowl every few minutes so everything gets good and whipped. You'll notice the batter starts to look lighter (both in colour and texture) as you whip.

Spoon by tablespoon onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets and bake for 20 minutes. The cookies should be barely golden on the bottom.

Whipped Orange Shortbread Cookies.jpg