Friday, May 25, 2012

DIY Roundup Part Two: Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb

Greetings friends!  I haven't been doing much sewing lately because my sewing room looks like this:

I have a few things on the table that I'd like to finish before we get too far into summer, so I will be cleaning it sooner rather than later.  It's just inertia at this point.  The kitchen, however, looks like this:

Clean.  Organized.  Comfortable.  We bought a big wire rack and started using it for most of our food storage--largely in response to a terrible, terrible ant infestation that was all kinds of stressful--and in the reorganization I realized that I could tuck my chair away in the corner next to my stack of cookbooks!  A cookbook nook, you might even call it.  Clearly I should spend my first real time off all year cooking, cooking, and then cooking again when we eat up all the things I cooked before.

This cooking obsession, along with an expansion of my DIY ethic from clothes to, well, everything, has prompted Dear Fiancee and me to eat more locally and seasonally than we ever have.  It doesn't hurt that Syracuse has a massive farmer's market, CNY Regional Market, that runs weekly in the winter and twice a week in the summer.  If it weren't for the Regional Market, I might never have bought rhubarb.  I thought I was going to miss it this year--I went away for two weeks just as the first pink stalks were showing up--but I hit the Thursday market this week just in time to buy three bundles (pictured at the top of this post).

Here's what those three bundles look like trimmed and chopped:

(Does anybody know what to do with rhubarb trimmings?  I hear the leaves are Not Fit For Human Consumption, but what about the bulb ends?)

I knew I wanted to make Rhubarb Ketchup because A) I've never heard of it before and B) Dear Fiancee loves ketchup.  I went with Recipe Number 1 and used tomato puree instead of diced tomatoes, because I figured it would save me waiting for the tomatoes to cook down and also it was what I had in the pantry.  For "pantry" read "big wire rack."

A couple of hours and some major sweat later, Dear Fiancee officially pronounced this the best ketchup she's ever had, with minimal prompting from me.  I canned three pints (my first ever foray into canning!) and saved another half-pint for immediate eating on top of homemade veggie burgers, with lacto-fermented full-sours on the side (best dinner ever).

With the leftover rhubarb, I made a double batch of Roasted Rhubarb Jam, subbing in a teaspoon or so of vanilla extract for the cinnamon in the original.  Here it is about to go in the oven:

I didn't get a good picture of the finished product, but I stuck half of it in the fridge in an old ginger spread jar and froze the other half.  It's delicious.  If you live in relatively Northern climes like me, you should still be able to get rhubarb--seriously, go out and buy some.  If you need some inspiration, my Pinterest canning board is full of rhubarb recipes.  Check it out!

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