Margaret Button | Kitchen comfort: You can't fool with Mother Nature


So, what does it take to turn two horse troughs into raised gardens? The answer, for this year at least, seems to be 40 bags of soil, eight tomato plants, six pepper plants, one eggplant plant and a pot each of oregano, cilantro and basil.

My son, David, did all the hard work of getting the soil into the troughs, while his girlfriend, Casey, and I ran around town procuring the plants.

We spent most of our time at the greenhouses run by the North Adams Public Schools on Ashland Street, where we picked up the tomato and pepper plants, and some marigolds for other planting areas around the house. There were no herbs at the NAPS greenhouse — at least not at that point — so we headed to the nearest big box store for them and an impulse-buy eggplant. (I have no clue how it grows and I'm praying it doesn't grow on sprawling vines like summer squash, watermelons or pumpkins!)

Despite my better judgment — who in New England plants before Memorial Day? — David insisted the plants would be fine. That was two Saturdays ago. The next two nights dropped into the low 30s and despite my best efforts in covering each plant carefully with a plastic bag, Mother Nature seems to have won again. Two of the tomato plants are definitely dead and the rest are looking none too healthy. I gave them all a dose of Miracle Gro this weekend and I'm waiting to see if it lives up to its name.

This past weekend, I spent some time on our deck, my summer living room. There is nothing like sitting out there first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee, listening to the neighborhood coming to life. (As opposed to sitting there at night, listening to the tree frogs, residing in the water on my pool cover, screaming )

I also picked some rhubarb and tried a new recipe — rhubarb tart. I actually think this is more of a cross between a torte and a crisp.

My sister described it as, "kind of pudding-y on the bottom and a crust/cake on top."

It's just good. I dare say this is the best rhubarb recipe ever, and I'll leave it at that.

Rhubarb torte


1 box yellow cake mix

1 1/2 sticks butter

In large bowl, mix:

4 to 5 cups chopped rhubarb

2 cups sugar

1 egg

4 tablespoons flour


Put that mixture in a greased glass 9x13-inch pan. (Mom always used glass for rhubarb dishes, so I do, too. I have no idea why ...)

Sprinkle an entire box of dry yellow cake mix over the top of the rhubarb mixture.

Melt 1 1/2 sticks of butter and drizzle over the cake mix.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until golden and crispy on top. Serve warm or cool.


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