Cheryl St.John: Rhubarb Cobbler

recipe-boxI’m a firm believer that many of the old ways are the best, and with that theory I include cooking. Finding an old cookbook is a treasure, especially those that are collections created by church ladies—the best cooks ever. Many of my grandmother’s and my husband’s grandmother’s recipes are still family favorites.

Anyone who knows me knows that I frequent flea markets and can’t resist a garage or rummage sale. At a garage sale a year or so ago, I unearthed a fat packet of yellowed recipe cards held together by rubber bands. Eureka! I asked the young woman how much they were. She took them and said, “I didn’t know these were here.” Then turned aside. “Mom, do you know what these are?”


“They must have been Grandma’s,” replied the older woman.

My heart sank. They hadn’t meant to toss them out with the junk.

But persistent one that I am, I asked, “How much?”

“Fifty cents,” says the daughter.

“Oh, a quarter,” says her mother.

“Halleluiah,” I say under my breath and snatch them back.


In that bundle I discovered newspaper clippings and recipes from old packages and hand-written recipes in the spidery penmanship of yesteryear. I’ve had a wonderful time testing them out.


My family loves rhubarb, and it has taken my husband and I several years to establish a good patch of our own. Now I’ve made rhubarb in a good many ways over the years, from plain sauces to crunches and crisps and jellies.  But today I’m sharing with you the recipe that made that purchase a gold mine. It’s Rhubarb Cobbler by a lady named Gladys, and while the process seems a little odd, it’s the best cobbler I’ve ever tried.


Back in the day, these ladies weren’t concerned about sugar consumption, but I have experimented with less amounts of sugar and even with substituting part of it for a sugar replacement, and it still comes out great every time.


rhubarbRhubarb is a vegetable with a unique taste that makes it a favorite in many pies and desserts. It originated in Asia over 2,000 years ago. It was initially cultivated for its medicinal qualities, and it was not until the 18th century that rhubarb was grown for culinary purposes in Britain and America. In more recent history we heard it referred to as pie plant. Rhubarb is often commonly mistaken to be a fruit but rhubarb is actually a close relative of garden sorrel, and is therefore a member of the vegetable family. Rhubarb is rich in vitamin C and dietary fiber.


Rhubarb is a perennial plant, which forms large fleshy rhizomes and large leaves with long, thick (and tasty) petioles (stalks). Rhubarb stalks are commonly found in supermarkets. Gourmet cooks prize fresh rhubarb. Some folks say the finest quality rhubarb is grown in Michigan, Ontario, Canada, and other northern states in the United States. Fresh rhubarb is available from early winter through early summer. Winter rhubarb is commercially produced in forcing houses in Michigan and Ontario.



From the kitchen of Gladys


4 cups (or more) of cleaned and chopped rhubarb

Place in 9×13 pan (lightly sprayed or not)

Sprinkle with ¼ cup (or less) sugar


Cream together all at once:

¾ cup (or less) sugar

1 cup flour

3 Tbsp melted oleo (margarine)

½ cup milk

1 tsp baking powder



Pour batter over rhubarb.


Mix 1 cup (or less) sugar with 1 Tbsp cornstarch.

Sprinkle over batter.


Pour 1 cup boiling water over all.

Grind cinnamon over the top.

Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.


Serve plain or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I have used as much as 6 cups of rhubarb with the same excellent results.

I have run out of flour and used pancake mix with excellent results.

I’ve added 2 Tbsp of chocolate to the flour mixture and had yummy chocolate cobbler.

I’ve added ginger and cinnamon to the batter for a change.

You can’t mess this up no matter what you do!


stjohn.jpgMy next experiment will be introducing strawberries to the fruit.

Cherries or peaches are also a good combination with rhubarb.


Thank you, Gladys!

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11 thoughts on “Cheryl St.John: Rhubarb Cobbler”

  1. A friend gave me a bag of apples, *lizzie, so I think it’s apple cobbler tonight. I could add a little rhubarb for zing!

  2. Cheryl, thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. I’ve just been introduced to rhubarb and I love it. I’m definitely going to try this. It sounds so easy and I’m all for anything that’s easy.

    That recipe packet you bought at the flea market was a real find. It’s so sad that families are willing to part with pieces of their relatives. I’ve seen lots of very old pictures at flea markets. I’d never consider selling my pictures. That’s far too personal, besides they’re treasures of the past.

  3. Cheryl is only those women knew what they got rid of. You got a heck of a steal and thanks for sharing with us. I have tons of cookbooks and several little pieces of paper all over with little recipes on them. I keep telling hubby no more books and they keep sending them to me I just don’t know how they keep showing up in the mail box. I am working on doing to recipe books for both girls maybe I will get them done by Christmas then again maybe not.
    Apple Crisp sounds really good today with a little scoop of ice cream.

  4. Cheryl,

    Thanks for the recipe. I love to visit flea markets and yard sales too. I have found alot of things that turned out to be worth something for my adventures.


  5. Hi, Cheryl–

    I’m with you. Old recipes are the best! I treasure the ones I got from my mother and her mother. But rhubarb? In my part of the world we might say, “That stuff that looks like pink celery?” 😉

    Sounds as though, as always, you are innovative in cooking.


  6. Love rhubarb. Make lots of stawberry rhubarb pies every year during the season. Fixed it with raspberry a few times and it was great.
    Both our hills of rhubarb died this summer. Don’t have any idea what happened, the just died.
    Will be trying this cobbler next spring.

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