18 September 2012

Fruit for the winter

Most of the year, the only fresh produce available in stores here is shipped in from the Lower 48. With fuel costs the way they are, this means that putting fruits and vegetables on the table often ranges from frustrating to impossible. Gardening is an invaluable way to offset produce expenses over the long winter, and while our apartment and my pregnancy conspired to make gardening impossible for us this summer, we've been so blessed by family and friends who have shared their bounty with us.

I can't remember an autumn growing up when everyone's primary activity (well, secondary to school) didn't involve chopping, blanching, canning, freezing, or otherwise processing the fruits of my parents' garden. This year has been the same: I scalded, bagged, and froze three quarts of carrots just the other day, and have recently been working my way through the obscene amount of rhubarb my mother gave us.

Friday afternoon was devoted to strawberry-rhubarb jam. Eight half-pints should be more than enough to last us until the summer, and I'm so happy to not need to buy jam from the store, which is often full of preservatives.

After Mass on Sunday, our slow cooker was pressed into service making stewed rhubarb, which will be wonderful with granola, plain yogurt, or vanilla ice cream. I realize that it really hasn't been rhubarb season in many other parts of the country for a while now, but if you have the chance, give this recipe a try! It is so good, and I don't think I've ever seen a simpler recipe. (I tripled these quantities.)

Stewed Rhubarb
4 cups rhubarb, diced
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
Combine in a slow cooker and cook on Low for 8-9 hours. Makes about one quart.

While the little boy naps today, I'm hoping to bake a couple of batches of rhubarb cookies with white chocolate chips; they are healthy, with whole wheat flour and very little sugar, and freeze nicely. I'm not sure what I'll make after that... I still have 10 cups of fresh rhubarb to use, and there are already two gallons of it in our freezer!

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