Monday, May 16, 2011

flavors of the season

The following post is brought to you courtesy of too many strawberries (you didn't really think we were done with strawberries, did you?), lots of fresh rhubarb and a few warm, sunny days.

Last week brought some summery weather, just right for grilling and dining outdoors.

It also brought a whole lot of fresh, tart rhubarb.

I have had a deep fondness for rhubarb since I was little, when I had my very own plant growing in the garden. I remember cooking up fresh plucked stalks of rhubarb with sugar and eating it straight out of the pot. The smell that accompanies cutting through the shimmering, ruby stalks brings me back, and its unique flavor is always linked to this time of year.

What better way to end the season's first dinner outside than with some sweet ice cream topped with a simple strawberry rhubarb sauce?

Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

4-6 stalks of rhubarb, peeled and chopped
sprinkle of ground cinnamon
honey and/or sugar
10 diced strawberries

Simmer the rhubarb and cinnamon in a small amount of water on the stove. Add strawberries, cook to soften and sweeten to taste. Serve over ice cream or eat by the spoonful!

The evening was made even better with a little after dinner knitting by the bonfire.

Of course, with all that rhubarb (and all those strawberries!) there had to be more cooking. We made up two batches of strawberry rhubarb jam. I've found that the way to get a good balance and texture when using rhubarb in jam is to chop it and cook it down first. It reduces by half once cooked.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

2 cups mashed berries
2 cups cooked rhubarb
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
2 1/2 tsp. Pomona's pectin
2 tsp. calcium water

Place your fruit and rhubarb in a pan with the calcium water and bring to a boil. Measure your sweetener and stir in the pectin. Add the sweetener/pectin mix to the fruit, stirring for 1-2 minutes. Return to a boil, then ladle into prepared jars. Boil jars in hot water for 10 minutes. This recipe yields about 5-6 cups of jam.

I'm almost ashamed to admit how many loaves of bread and jars of jam we've been going through around here, but it is such a delicious snack (don't miss the recipe and a giveaway!).

This jam is also quite tasty atop homemade waffles.

While I do love the jam and bread combinations, the hot weather this past week had me wishing for a light, refreshing drink that drew on the flavors that have been filling our kitchen. I came up with this recipe and it hit the spot!

Strawberry Rhubarb Soda

1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 cup pureed strawberries
sparkling water

Begin by making a syrup; bring rhubarb and water to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Stir in sugar, honey and strawberries, cooking until the sugar and honey are dissolved. Strain the syrup into a jar. Add desired amount of syrup to sparkling water. Serve over ice, with a squeeze of lemon juice.

We're loving all the many ways we have found to enjoy the flavors of this season.

For those of you who don't know, Blogger service was down for a while last week. During this time, the comments that were left over a several day period were all lost. I greatly appreciate every comment you leave, and I apologize if I was unable to respond before the comments were deleted. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!


Meg said...

Yum!! I am recent follower of your blog. Have you shared your bread recipe before? I am hoping to stop buying store bread in the next year and be making our own. :)

Sara said...

I've been wanting to ask about your bread recipe, too. It always looks so good!

Tatiana said...

JUST about to ask for the bread recipes, too!! Please post:) Do you use a machine (that loaf looks too perfect).

Jennie said...

Oh these look fantastic! I will try out the jam recipe. We haven't gotten our strawberry's yet but any day now! Found you over at Monday Mania blog hop. Thanks for sharing!

shopannies said...

what a delicious recipe perfect I just saw the u pick strawberry patch is open I can't wait come see me at

DeLynn said...

Yum. This reminds me of my Grandma. She would always order rubarb pie.

shopannies said...

oh so yummy I am so ready for strawberry season

shopannies said...

oh so yummy I am so ready for strawberry season

Amanda Greco Holmes said...

Welcome Meg! For those of you asking about our bread recipe, stick around. Next week I will be sharing the how-to and a giveaway!

I'm glad I'm not the only one who's so excited for strawberries and their lovely rhubarb sidekick. Such a classic for this time of year.