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May 16, 2010

May Can-Jam "Rhubarb-Strawberry Pie Filling"

This month's Can-Jam has been alot of fun! We had the choice between rhubarb and asparagus! What a difficult decision! BOTH are amazing! I found a lot of FUN recipes ... 
But, the winner is:
"Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Filling"
I wanted to can something on the practical side. I came up with lots of ideas, but decided on pie filling!
I asked my husband's 88 year old aunt what she thought about this idea and if she had any recipes that would make this work. She said she'd look through her cookbooks. (mind you, she has well over 200 of them!) The following day she sent over an index card with this recipe!
This recipe is excellent for cherries, raspberries, blueberries
and the likes. You may wish to can in pints rather then quarts,
as you can use your own home canned pie filling in place of
 the commercial cans called for in many recipes.

Strawberry - Rhubarb Pie Filling
9 1/2 cups water
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cornstarch
Combine in a large saucepan. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly.
Stir 7 quarts of fruit (rhubarb cut into chunks & sliced
strawberries) into syrup and ladle into jars leaving 1 inch
of headspace. (If the jars are filled too full, the syrup
will spew out in processing) Seal with lids and process in
boiling water bath for 25 minutes.

I ended up with 9 pints and I can't wait to make pies or a crisp!!

And I can't wait to try this recipe with other fruits!

PS...  The next time I do this, I will lessen the water to adjust for the natural juices of the fruits!

PS again...  I learned something new!! I never knew that there was such a thing as 'green' rhubarb! Where have I been? After all these years of eating rhubarb, I just never knew?! I saw some of the Can-Jammers use green rhubarb and then Pete brought home a bunch of it from his mom's patch. It will be made up into sauce and jams, but oh, the mind game of eating GREEN rhubarb...  
Ha ha ha! I just never knew....  but now I do! (I wonder if there will be a different flavor?)

2nd & 3rd Choices ... STILL RHUBARB!!

Well the first entry is the one I'm standing by "Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Filling" but I just couldn't resist sharing the couple of other recipes I had to try! But, before I do, I want to make a plea for asparagus! I LOVE THIS VEGGIE... it is among my favorites, but somehow, canning it just doesn't do too much for me! I wanted to use my dill pickle recipe with it, but I need the fresh grape leaves & fresh dill heads and they won't be available for a while! I can buy the asparagus in the store easier then I can get my hands on the other so, that will have to wait till later this summer!


Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam     

2 cups crushed strawberries
2 cups diced rhubarb (4+ stalks)
1 pkg. powdered pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice
5 1/2 cups sugar        

            
Combine strawberries, rhubarb, lemon and powdered pectin in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat.  Add sugar stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Skim off the foam if necessary.

Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Adjust the two piece lids and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. It was so yummy that I made two batches!! Hopefully, I will get my hands on more rhubarb and make a couple more batches! (Thank you Ball Blue Book 100th Anniversary Edition for this awesome recipe!)         
NOW.... the last recipe that I tried is RHUBARB KETCHUP!! Yes, you read that correctly! We made a grape ketchup years ago from an old recipe and it came out awesome...  Pete thought it would be good to try it with rhubarb too! So... I did some digging and actually found a recipe for it here. The recipe is similar to the one we used before .... but not the same! So, here goes....

RHUBARB KETCHUP
  
4 Cups diced rhubarb
3 medium onions, chopped
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pickling spice
Directions:
In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients. Cook for 1 hour or until thick. Cool. Refrigerate in covered containers.  OK, now that is the directions given in the recipe....  here's what I did to modify it!

I used all the same ingredients and simmered it for about 1 hour. I let it cool down and then put it in my blender to puree it. Afterwards, I put it back into a saucepan and brought it to a boil and put it into 2 pint jars and a 1/2 pint jar and water bathed them for 10 minutes.

 I guess the best way to describe it would be to make a comparison...  what apple butter is to apple sauce, this rhubarb ketsup is to rhubarb sauce! It has a spicey & tangy flavor....  

May 7, 2010

Here's What I Get To See FIVE DAYS A WEEK!

I just wanted to share a few of the amazing things I get to see EVERY week day! As you know (or maybe you don't!) I drive children to school and home again. The kids that I drive live in rural areas and I've been blessed to see some beautiful sites! This morning I remembered to bring my camera to take a few pictures to show you! I pass by two lakes, a river, a couple of streams plus mountains and fields. Check these out:
                                                    I love the scenery...
Just another wonderful part of my job!
After all, someone has to do it.... 

May 5, 2010

Granola....

I'm trying a new recipe... well, sort of! I've made granola for a while now and have made different variations of similar recipes! I found an awesome recipe at  Food In Jars  for granola. Her recipe is very similar to the recipes I use, with the exception of 'brown rice syrup'. I'd never heard of it before ...  so naturally, I went on a search (both online & in the store).
What I discovered is that this stuff is: Brown Rice Syrups are one of the best alternatives to tame the roller coaster ride of your blood-sugar levels while continuing to pamper your sweet tooth. BRS are quite healthy and mild with a buttery flavor and delicate sweetness, which makes it an ideal choice for baking & desserts. (This information taken from this link: BrownRiceSyrups.com )

So with that said....  I took a couple of recipes and combine them to make my version of granola using the new brown rice syrup!

Granola Recipe
6 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2-3/4 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 - 1 cup wheat germ
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup honey

In a large bowl (make sure you have plenty of room to mix), combine the oats, seeds, nuts and wheat germ. Sprinkle the cinnamon and salt in and toss all the ingredients to combine.

In a small saucepan, heat the brown rice syrup and honey until it’s warm. Pour it over the granola and mix it in with a wooden spoon. (tip: lightly spray the wooden spoon with veg. oil to keep the honey mixture from sticking to it!)

Spread it out in a larges roasting pan and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, mixing with a wooden every 10 minutes so that it toasts evenly.

After the 30 minutes take the pan out to cool for a little while.... but then mix it around with the wooden spoon so that it doesn't stick to the pan or get too clumpy. When it has totally cooled, store it in a sealed container.....  (ziplock bag, large pretzel container, mason jars or a large glass pickle jar works great!)

It should keep for 2-3 weeks....  we usually have eaten it all up by then!  ENJOY!!

1st NOTE:  I could add 1/4 cup of peanut butter with the honey & BRS or add a teaspoon of cinnamon and/or a teaspoon or two of vanilla to the oats before adding the liquids.... but the flavor I got with the above combination was fantastic!! Don't know if I'd do anything differently next time! I guess it will depend on what I have one hand to put in it! :) 

2nd NOTE:  I tripled the recipe when I made this! The jar of BRS that I had was just a little bit shy of 2 cups, so I added enough honey to make a total of 3 cups and heated that up together! I need to start restocking all my ingredients so I can make this again when I run out!!