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Becky's Food Tales - A baby bird, the folly of man, and rhubarb cake

Mon, May 26th, 2014
Posted in All Columnists

The Sunday before last, my husband and I drove out to the tree dump. No particular reason, we didn’t even have any brush to dump. But I had noticed that the fire from the tree dump seemed particularly smoky that evening, and I wanted to see what was burning. There was a large pile of wood chips smoldering, and that accounted for the extra smoke. Directly next to this pile was a cut up pile of brush. On top of this pile was a scruffy, defiant looking brown baby bird. He was chirping to beat the band and there was a rather intense quality about him. He didn’t seem scared, he seemed cranky. Someone had cut down his home, and dragged him out to the dump, and he was irritated and probably more than a little hungry.

I looked at my husband.

My husband looked at me.

“We should really just leave him here,” said my husband.

I was inclined to agree. It’s generally best to let nature take its course when it comes to baby birds and other wildlife. It was sad, but this little guy probably wasn’t going to make it through the night. If the smoke didn’t get him, then certainly some raccoon or other predator would.

Then I found myself suggesting that we should at least move him away from the fire. We looked around for a suitable place to leave the little guy. Then we looked around for something to use to pick up the bird and move it. The little angry bird continued to demand food as we discussed what to do. And as you can probably guess, his pleas got to us. Going against common sense, we brought Angry Bird home and set him up in an unused cage. We fed him egg yolk from an improvised bottle, and he settled in and slept through the night.

I half expected that I’d find him dead that morning, but a bit after sunrise he started to chirp. A lot. Angry Bird was hungry again- baby birds have an extremely high metabolism, and it quickly became clear that this little guy was going to require frequent feedings. The raw egg yolk wasn’t really doing it for him this morning, so I did some internet research to come up with a better meal plan. Angry Bird now receives frequent feedings of softened kitten chow, chopped up hard boiled eggs with ground up eggshell, and cut up night crawlers. Angry Bird seems to enjoy the night crawlers best and has started to reject the other menu options. He lets me know when he is hungry, and sleeps through the night. My husband and I do not intend to keep him as a pet. As soon as he is done figuring out how to fly (he’s making great progress!) we’re going to let him outside, keep an eye on him from a distance and see how he does.

And that my friends, is the story of the real Angry Bird. (And two silly humans.)

In the spirit of spring, today I am submitting a recipe for my Grandma Raway’s Magic Rhubarb Cake. I may have submitted this recipe last year, but that’s okay. It’s is a special kind of childhood nostalgia good, and it needs to be shared again. The magic of this cake is that the rhubarb filling goes to the bottom, and the marshmallows rise to the top, even though these are not their original positions when layering ingredients. It’s sort of like a rhubarb upside-down cake. Try it and see!

Grandma Raway's Magic Rhubarb Cake

Rhubarb Filling

3 cups rhubarb, chopped into ½ inch pieces

½ cup sugar

One package strawberry Jello (standard sized package, NOT sugar free)

Other ingredients

Mini Marshmallows

One box of your preferred yellow cake mix


Mix the filling ingredients together and set aside

Butter a 9x13 cake pan, and layer it with a single layer of mini marshmallows

Mix cake mix according to box directions, then pour cake batter over marshmallows

Spoon rhubarb mixture on top of cake mix

Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes

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