Something really needed to be done about all this rhubarb. (By the way, I figured out what was wrong with my spindly, pencil-thin rhubarb when I busted W and Lou peeing on it in tandem. I don’t think plants like that.)
But my sister had to cut her monster down in order to paint her house, and brought the bulk of it over. I also robbed my neighbors of some of theirs, and I think there’s still some in the freezer from last year. So I skimmed my cookbooks and magazines and made rhubarb orange jelly, bluebarb jam (blueberry-rhubarb, but I really used Saskatoons from the bush down the street – Saskbarb doesn’t have the same ring to it though) and rhubarb chutney to put away for Thanksgiving.
(adapted from Put a Lid on It!)
3 1/2 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb
1/2 cup water
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries or saskatoon berries
1 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice
1 box pectin crystals or pouch liquid pectin
5 cups sugar
Put the rhubarb, water and blueberries in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring often, then add the lemon juice and pectin and return to a boil. Add the sugar and bring to a full rolling boil; boil hard for 1 full minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim any foam off the surface with a slotted spoon.
Ladle into jars and seal. Makes about 5 cups.
Rhubarb Orange Jelly
I didn’t use a box of pectin in mine – since I was going to strain it anyway, I threw in a handful of small apples off the tree, cut into quarters, to add some extra pectin.
(From Canadian Living’s special summer issue.)
10 cups chopped rhubarb
1 1/2 cups water
1 pkg. light fruit pectin crystals (optional – or an apple with the seeds)
3 1/4 cups sugar
Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into a large pot. Cut the rest into chunks and add it to the pot along with the rhubarb and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the rhubarb is very tender. Mash it a bit with a potato masher.
If you have a jelly bag, pour the mixture into it and suspend it over a pot. Otherwise, strain it through a fine mesh seive (it will still be cloudy – who cares?) or do as I did – pour it into a cheesecloth, gather it up and rig it up to the cabinet with a rope in order to suspend it over the pot. Let it stay that way for a few hours or overnight.
In a large pot, add the pectin to the juice (or not), add the sugar and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for a full minute. If you’re not using packaged pectin, you could test it – put a bit on a cold plate or somehow cool it down and see if your finger leaves a trail in it – or if you have a candy thermometer, cook it to 210 degrees. Turn off the heat and skim any foam off the surface.
Ladle into hot jars (I just wash them or run them through the dishwasher – after all, when boiling jam is ladled into them they heat up pretty quick!) and seal. Makes about 6 250 mL jars.
As I also mentioned, I am cleaning out my basement. I thought this might also be a good time to clean out my cupboards (as my many shelves of dishes and kitchen things in the basement gets rearranged) and my spice rack, which never was properly organized in the first place. As a result, my kitchen has become a massive staging area for dishes, boxes of jars and other things I’m sorting, cleaning and reorganizing. Every millimetre of surface area is covered. And I had to make a birthday cake for W’s third birthday tomorrow, too. So when the subject of dinner came up, it was quickly decided that we’d reheat some chili from the freezer – part of my Stampede surplus. It was on the spicy side, so W had a poached egg on toast. Then we ate the last of the pumpkin cookies I made the other day during my pumpkin spree (we pawned a few off on neighbors), some spread with soft cream cheese on the bottom and sandwiched with another cookie. Usually I’m not a huge fan of cakelike cookies – I prefer more the dense, chewy, crispy-edged chocolate chip kind – but these are dense and heady with ginger and cinnamon and remind me of the best part of a muffin – the top. Top o’ the muffin to you!
2 cups all-purpose flour or half all-purpose, half whole wheat
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter or non-hydrogenated margarine, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
1 large egg
1/4 cup dark molasses
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup dried fruit: raisins, dried cranberries and/or chopped dried apricots, or a combination
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, pumpkin, egg, molasses and vanilla until smooth. Add flour mixture and stir by hand until almost combined; add raisins or other dried fruit and stir just until blended.
Drop large, rounded spoonfuls of dough 2” apart on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 12–14 minutes, until just set — springy to the touch around the edges, but you still leave a slight dent if you touch them in the middle. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Makes 2 dozen cookies.