Sunday, May 6, 2012

Rosey days and Rhubarb recipe

   I'm still working with the edible flowers! It's so much fun. We've come across some really wonderful ones that we didn't know about, such as black locust blossoms. Unfortunately the trees are at the end of the bloom. We were a week too late. After searching all the trees, I found a small spray that was still somewhat fresh. WOW! They taste like jasmine tea. Really terrific. I'll put them in my little notebook for harvest next year. The house is surrounded with these trees.

   Now every time I see flowers someplace on the farm, I have to research to find out if they are edible. We have a list from online that includes the usual veggies and herbs. Then we looked in the wild handbook we have to find out about some of the flowers blooming in the woods and around the house. We're very careful to make sure they are listed as edible someplace before we taste them.

   Today's find isn't new...just that they are blooming now. Roses! I've saved the petals of roses for years to make teas and sachets. The red ones are up by the house and smell wonderful, very pretty fragrance and strong. The little white ones I found in the woods on an invasive plant called Multiflora Rose. It's wild and we usually try to pull them out. They aren't as fragrant and are smaller, but they are still pretty and taste nice. I lay the petals out in the bowls and on plates, stirring them every day, until they are all dry, making sure the are very dry so they won't mold in the containers. I'll enjoy rose tea this winter!

   Today we participated in the spring bird count. We've done that for many years. A list of birds is sent to us by the organizer. Then we go out all around the yard, thru the woods, and along the praire to see what we can find. We mark them on the list and send it back for it to be compiled with other people's finds.
   I have to say that this year was a lot of the regulars. Downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, blue jays, red-tail hawk, grackles, red-wing blackbird, morning dove, goldfinch...etc. We saw a sharp shinned hawk in the woods and a couple of grosbeak. Nothing fantastic like the coot that flew in last year. But...we do have lots of robins sitting on nests this year.

Here's the rhubarb chutney recipe I promised...
   from the cookbook "The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest" by Carol Costenbader
   (This is a great canning cookbook! It has a really terrific ketchup recipe that can be easily changed into bbq or salsa. And I use a lot of her recipes every year.)

Rhubarb Chutney

Water bath canner, 8 - 1/2 pint jars
2 large oranges
2 1/2 pounds rhubarb washed, cut into 1" pieces (I do smaller even)
5 1/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
4 cups cider vinegar
2 cups gold raisins
2 med. onions, peeled and chopped (I don't include these!)
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
12 whole allspice berries
12 whole black peppercorns

Grate zest from oranges and set aside. Halve and section oranges as you would grapefruit, remove white membranes, place in 2-quart bowl. Chop oranges sections coarsely, squeeze any remaining juice out of halves into chopped sections.
Combine rhubarb, oranges, sugar, vinegar, raisins, and onion in 4-quart saucepan.
Tie spices in cheesebag cloth and add to pan. Slowly bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
Simmer uncovered until thick, about 1-1 1/2 hours, being careful not to burn and stir often. Remove spice bag.
Ladel into hot clean jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Cap and seal.
Process 10 minutes in boiling water-bath canner. Adjust for altitude if necessary (chart in book).

It really tastes great!! We use it on toast like a jam. But she suggests in the book use on poultry, pork or lamb. I leave out the onion and might've left out the mustard seed also, making it more sweet like a jam. I also figured out how many cups the 2 1/2 pounds of rhubarb fit into, then chopped my rhubard and filled freezer bags and put it in the freezer, one bag for each recipe amount. That way I could process it when I had more time.

Happy spring!