Small Batch Strawberry Rhubarb Jam + Rhubarb Recipes from the Archives

rhubarb and strawberries

Last weekend, on the very tail end of our vacation, Scott and I spent an hour walking through the Allentown Farmers Market. While there weren’t any local strawberries to be found, there was plenty of ruby stalks of rhubarb from area farms and gardens. I bought a generous sackful and have been throwing a little one-woman rhubarb festival in my kitchen this week (between sneezes from a most irritating spring cold).

macerating strawberries and rhubarb

I cooked up a small batch of strawberry rhubarb jam that went live over on Food 52 earlier today. I liked that one so much that I made a second batch that I spiked with three tablespoons of rose flower water (influenced by Cooking With Flowers!). I also made another batch of this roasted rhubarb compote with vanilla (it’s insanely good). I’m currently out of rhubarb, but plan on getting more this weekend to cook into chutney and syrup.

roasted rhubarb pieces

When that’s all done, if there’s time, I’m going to make a batch of strawberry rhubarb butter, and another of rhubarb jelly with rosemary (I don’t mean to be a tease, but it’s a recipe from the new book! And it’s so, so good). It’s such a joy to have something fresh and good to work with.

How are you guys using rhubarb these days?

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Giveaway: Cooking With Flowers + Dandelion Jam Recipe

Cooking with Flowers cover

A few years back, I was a member of a CSA share that regularly included edible flowers in with the lettuces, tomatoes, and zucchini. While I was charmed by the presence of these flowers, I was always flummoxed when it came to actually using them. If only Miche Bacher’s new book, Cooking with Flowers had been around then. I would have done so much more with those tasty blooms.

Hibiscus Popsicles

Organized by variety of flower, each section begins with details about the particular blossom being featured. Then come the recipes, which manage to straddle the line between being appealing new and still familiar enough to get the old salivary glands working (for instances, how about a scoop of Lilac Sorbet).

Dandelions

As a preserver, I’m particularly interested in the ways that flowers can enhance my preserves. I often used dried lavender buds in jams and jellies to add a floral note, but now I’m contemplating the ways that lilac, nasturtium, and rose petals could improve or add interest to my basic sweet spreads. Makes the mind boggle a little, doesn’t it?

Pansy Tea Sandwiches

Thanks to the nice folks at Quirk Books, I have two treats to share from this book today. First is a giveaway of a copy. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about a time you ate a flower. Could be at as a garnish on sculpted white rice or the time when you were six and learned that guava flowers were delicious (true story).
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Saturday, May 11, 2013. Winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday.
  3. Giveaway open to U.S. resident only.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

The second treat is a recipe for Dandelion Jam. It’s a recipe that was originally intended to go in the book, but because of space constraints, was cut from the volume. However, Eric from Quirk knows I happen to have a thing for jams and so asked if I’d like to feature the recipe here. I said yes and here we are.

I’ve not made this jam, but having read the recipe, I do believe it should work. For a preserve like this one, cooking it up to 220 degrees F will improve your chances of getting a good set from it. Also, do note that while it instructs you to put the finished jam in sterilized jars and seal them, it also requires that you store them in the fridge. This is because the jam doesn’t have the proper acidity for boiling water bath canning.

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Links: Rhubarb, Fiddleheads, and Aladdin Tumbler Winners

new friendship bowls

I’m back from vacation. It was a lovely respite from regular life and though we didn’t go anywhere particularly exotic, Scott and I really enjoyed bopping around Lancaster County and the Lehigh Valley. I had plenty of blog reading time while we were away and so here are some of the links I’ve collected to share.

Aladdin Original Insulated Mason Tumbler

aladdin winners Time for winners in the Aladdin Mason Tumbler. Thanks to all of you who took the time to enter and share your favorite vacations! Our winners are commenter numbers #75 (Paula), #166 (Athena), and #422 (Anotai Udomwittyakrai). I’ll be in touch with all the winners shortly.

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“The Return of Spring” at Art in the Age

food in jars at Central Market

In the past, my work as a writer, teacher, and food preserver has taken me to libraries, barns, farmers markets, and private homes. Tonight, for the first time, it’s taking me (or at least, my books and jars) to an art gallery. A collection of my jams, pickles, and preserves, along with copies of my book, will be part of the new show at the Art in the Age shop/gallery in Old City, Philadelphia.

Called The Return of Spring, this group exhibition features an eclectic mix of work from environmentally inspired artists and craftspeople from the Philadelphia region. It opens tonight at part of First Friday and runs through the end of the month. There’s a reception tonight from 6-8 pm and you can get more details about that here. I hope some of you can make it!

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Guest Post: Pickled Beets with Honey from Camille Storch

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Oh friends, do I have a treat in store for you today! It’s a guest post from writer, woodworker, avid canner, and mom of two, Camille Storch. She writes about ecology, agriculture, community, and the reality of her family’s joyful, off-the-grid life in rural Western Oregon on her blog, Wayward Spark.

She also designs and crafts natural edge cutting and serving boards and sells them in her Etsy shop, Red Onion Woodworks. I recently added one of her boards to my kitchen and it’s quickly become one of my most loved and used tools. Enjoy!

beets

My mom canned a lot when I was a kid, but like most activities my parents enjoyed, I had no interest in participating in her steamy kitchen exploits. My parents were big gardeners/small farmers who sold their vegetables and baked goods at the local farmers’ market starting the year I was born (and continuing to this day). I enjoyed hanging around the action of the market, and I always loved to eat pretty much any kind of fruit or vegetable, but I never once sowed a seed or pulled a weed unless I was coerced or bribed into doing it.

In a strange and unexplainable turn of events, I got my first real job when I was still in high school working on an organic vegetable farm, and even more surprisingly, I really liked it. I tackled thistles, harvested sweet cherries, and cleaned fresh garlic for days on end. I got a couple of gnarly sunburns, I learned to speak Spanish, and for the first time in my life, I developed real working muscles. And my love for fruits and vegetables reached a whole new level.

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When I moved out of my parents’ house at 18, I would regularly eat giant piles of kale (before kale was the phenom that it is today) over brown rice for dinner, and in the summer, I’d feast on unmarketable-but-still-delicious cracked heirloom tomatoes out in the fields with sprigs of basil as chasers. Farms and food became a way of life for me during my college years, and I’d show up to class in dirty Carhartt’s, like they were some sort of badge of honor.

My first forays into canning on my own involved farm excesses including ugly tomatoes, windfall apples, and a whole box of scarred nectarines that couldn’t be sold. I spent a fair bit of time on the phone with my mom or tracking down USDA hot water bath guidelines, but it wasn’t long before the rhythm of washing, sterilizing, peeling, stuffing, lidding, and boiling was familiar and comforting.

cipollinis

I moved into a rental house with a new roommate in May at the end of my junior year in college, and I saw my roommate’s eyes grow wide as I schlepped box after box of empty canning jars up the steps and into the kitchen. A month later, I bought my first chest freezer and moved that into the house, too. I’m fairly certain my roommate thought I was completely off my rocker, but by the end of the summer, I had canned, frozen, or dried enough produce to feed a small army.

Over the years, I’ve pared down my canning experiments to include more or less just what my family can and wants to eat in the off season: a few jars of jam, some applesauce, a lot of cold-packed whole tomatoes, and a few extras just for fun or for gifts (plus a freezer full of blueberries and other staples). The fact that canning and preserving is really “in” right now is kind of funny to me because it’s been a part of my own life for so long now that it doesn’t feel too special anymore. That said, I’m all in favor of any activity that brings folks closer to their food and the farms that produce that food.

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When I stumbled across this new fangled group called the Portland Preservation Society on Instagram, I was intrigued. When I went to my first meeting, I was hooked. The PPS is a loose collective of Portland area food enthusiasts that meets monthly to swap (mostly canned) food items. (Be sure to check out PPS founder Brooke Weeber’s crazy cool vegetable illustrations in her Etsy shop, Little Canoe.) Every meeting is a showcase of the possibilities in food preservation from jellies to pickles to spreads to infused alcohols, sweet and savory alike.

The April PPS meeting was the perfect excuse for me to dust off my trusty pickled beet recipe. I first ordered a big bag of beets from my vegetable alma mater, Gathering Together Farm, and then I stole a few onions from my parents’ root cellar. I used honey instead of sugar in this recipe because my husband is a beekeeper, so we almost always have honey on hand, and I’m all about keepin’ it local. I spent a pleasant afternoon stuffing jars and perfuming my kitchen with steam from the sweet and tangy brine. In the end, I discovered that my fellow PPS members are just as enthusiastic about pickled beets as I am, but luckily I held back a couple jars to enjoy at home.

pickled-beets-fij

There are beet lovers and beet haters in the world, and well, I love ‘em. Pretty much any style of beets suits me just fine, especially if the earthy roots are paired with a bit of creamy chévre or salty feta. These pickled beets are honey sweetened but not overly so and seasoned with onion (cipollini if you can find them) and a bit of pickling spice. The preservative power comes from the all-important ratio of 2 parts vinegar to 1 part water, so if you want to halve or double this recipe, be sure to retain that balance.

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Happy May Day!

flower

A virtual bloom for the first of May. I hope that your day was sunny and bright!

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