Fox Valley Cooks: Couple shares the kitchen
By Judy Buchenot Buchenot@comcast.net June 6, 2012 2:46PM
Jane and Craig Zimmerman get ready to enjoy a slice of rhubarb cake made from their garden's plant. | Judy Buchenot~For The Beacon-News
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups diced rhubarb
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped nuts
Mix brown sugar, oil, egg, buttermilk, flour, baking soda, vanilla and salt until well blended. Stir in rhubarb. Pour into a greased and floured 9-by-13-inch cake pan. Mix topping ingredients and sprinkle over the cake. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes. Serve plain or with whipped cream or ice cream.
Updated: July 9, 2012 6:08AM
After retiring from his position as a biology professor at Aurora University, Craig Zimmerman presented his wife, Jane, with an interesting proposal. “I asked her, ‘how would it be if I cooked on Tuesday and Thursday and you cooked on Monday, Wednesday and Friday?” Jane thought this was a grand idea, so the couple began taking turns in the kitchen. They share the meal preparation task on the weekends.
“I like to eat lighter, and this way, I can try some things I find interesting,” Craig says. “We eat lots of chicken but also seafood. I was brought up outside of Lake Erie in Ohio, so we ate a lot of fish. I like a lot of variety and try new things that I see in the newspapers. I try to think about what I am going to fix a day ahead.”
Jane tries new things but also takes care of the old. “I try to use leftovers, so we don’t waste food,” she notes. “I usually do the desserts, too.”
This couple who cooks together also gardens together. When they retired, they decided to become members of the Fox Valley Garden Club. Jane focuses on the flower gardens while Craig plants vegetables.
“We have met so many people through the garden club,” Jane says. “There is always someone who can answer your questions about gardening.”
“They have great programs, and there always seems to be something new to learn,” Craig adds.
When the garden is bountiful, the couple freezes items to use over the winter. One of their garden fresh favorites is leaf lettuce, which they use for wilted salad. To make the salad, they fry four strips of bacon and crumble it into pieces. Then they mix together a quarter cup of vinegar and a quarter cup of sugar and toss it with six cups of fresh leaf lettuce and the crumbled bacon.
The couple also grows rhubarb and raspberries. Craig reminds gardeners to never let rhubarb go to seed. “If it starts to get a seed stalk, cut off the stalk. Otherwise the seed stalk sends a message to the rest of the plant to stop growing and start making seeds. To keep getting rhubarb, cut off the seed stalk.”
Jane makes jam and many other items with the rhubarb, including the cake recipe shared here that can be served as a breakfast coffee companion or as a delicious dessert with a dollop of whipped cream.
Know someone who really likes to cook and is good at it? Contact columnist Judy Buchenot at Buchenot@comcast.net.