Is it just me or is time really flying by? I am quite certain it was Christmas time just a few weeks ago, but here I am with my calendar telling me it’s almost June. What?! Where did the weeks go?
Understandably, most of my weeks went by in a blur because I was sick for almost 8 of them. But still, it’s almost June!
This time warp has also really affected my cooking, blogging and writing (and posting) Before I can press “publish” on the last post, it’s already time to schedule another one! As you can see, I’m woefully behind. Behind with creating, behind with posting and behind with visiting cherished friends.
I have no idea where my week goes. It’s this haze of kids, school, shopping, cooking, and a few work things thrown in. Before I know it, it’s Friday and I am scrambling to create a menu for work the following day and to go shop for it all. It’s a good thing I don’t work outside of the home everyday!
As a result, the blog has been sorely neglected. I do feel guilty because I realise it’s this blog that has given me the opportunities I have right now. It’s still the thing that starts the conversation at work with the new people I meet.
One of my most asked questions is “How did you get into cooking?” My answer is always that my interest in cooking and creating led me to write a food blog. So, even if I wanted to give up my little piece of the web, I can’t. Cooking for work and cooking for home is overwhelming and to think about cooking for the blog is just exhausting but I will have to post when I can.
In the meantime. I have little boy who turns 10 next week and his party is this weekend. I just outsourced it this year! The bowling alley can do the work. I’m making a cake for him and that’ll be it.
I also have a 17 year old drama queen who is about to graduate from high school, also next week (on Laith’s birthday, actually) I couldn’t outsource this party so we’re having friends over after the ceremony for a cookout.
Hamburgers, grilled herby chicken or maybe kebabs, and a bunch of salads. I’m keeping it easy and there’s no cake. I’m tired of cake. We can’t have a cookout without blueberry cobbler and strawberry shortcakes, the very vision of summer! Though, here in Colorado, we’re still struggling with the dregs of winter.
Mother’s Day saw snow again this year. I love snow on Mother’s Day but it left quicker than it arrived and the weather is back to cool spring like interspersed with some violent rain storms. We don’t complain, here in our dry climate, we welcome every rain drop.
I am not joking when I say that my inspiration has gone. I have lost my mojo it seems. All this beautiful, seasonal spring produce and I can’t think of a thing to do with it. The asparagus has been roasted or blanched or thrown in a tart and eaten; no photos. no recipes. The over- wintered spinach from the farm stand made it home many times but ended up in a curry or just sautéed with garlic and devoured. I just haven’t had much of a desire to eat, let alone cook. There is something seriously wrong I think 🙂
So, when I found local rhubarb, I actually felt a little spark ignite inside. I brought it home from the farm stand and it stayed in my fridge for 2 weeks, no joke, 2 weeks. Because it’s so fresh, it lasted all this time and finally this week, void of any imagination, I ended up making some jam.
Serves: 7 jars
- 2 lbs/900g strawberries
- 1lb/455g rhubarb
- ¼ cup/60ml water
- 2.2lbs/1kg sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 7 half pint jars and lids/bands
- Wash the jars and the lids with warm soapy water.
- Line the jars on a sheet tray and place in the oven to dry and sterilise.
- Turn on the oven to 250F/120C.
- Put the lids in a bowl and pour in boiling water.
- Place two small plates in the freezer to get cold so you can check the set on the jam later.
- Cut the strawberries in the size you desire.
- I don't like my jam too chunky so I cut the strawberries and rhubarb pretty small.
- Don't keep them whole since there is no added pectin in this jam and a whole berry jam will not set.
- Chop the rhubarb in a small dice around ½" chunks
- In a large, heavy bottomed pan, place the rhubarb and the water.
- On medium heat, let the rhubarb cook a little and break down and get tender, about 5 minutes.
- When almost all the rhubarb is soft, add the strawberries.
- Allow the strawberries to soften and break down just a bit, another 5 minutes.
- Then add the sugar and lemon juice and on medium high heat, bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Allow the sugar to dissolve and the mixture to cook and thicken.
- There's no set time for this.
- Jams thicken at different rates and some won't set completely.
- This jam is a soft set, it's not a firm set and the mixture is a dropping consistency.
- It's great on toast but also great for spooning on ice cream and yoghurt.
- Check the jam after 5 minutes of simmering.
- Stir the jam occasionally to make sure it's not sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Take out one of the plates from the freezer and put a drop of jam.
- Let it sit for a couple of minutes.
- If the jam thickens up and if you push up against it with your finger and it stays in its place and doesn't run together again, it's ready to be jarred.
- If it's still runny even after being cooled, than boil for a bit longer, another 3-5 minutes.
- Make sure jam isn't catching at the bottom.
- Check the set with the second freezer plate.
- I only simmered mine for about 10 minutes and then bottled the jam.
- Remove the jars carefully from the oven.
- They will be hot.
- Ladle in the hot jam into the jars, almost to the top.
- Remove the lids from the boiling water and dry.
- Place on top of the jar and tighten, not too tight though.
- If you are going to process them in hot water, bring a canning pot or a large pot with water to a boil.
- I throw in a small kitchen towel in the bottom to protect the glass jars knocking against the pot when boiling,
- Carefully grab the jar with tongs or canning tongs and place into the boiling water.
- A couple of rubber bands tied around some togs helps them to securely grab the jars without slipping.
- Place as many jars as will fit in your pot, being careful the water doesn't over flow.
- Process the jars for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, carefully remove the jars and let cool.
- After the jam is cool, pop open a jar and try some!
- Place the jars in a cupboard and enjoy through the winter.
- If you don't want to process the jars in the hot water, just place the cooled jam jars in the fridge and use within 2 weeks.
Strawberry and rhubarb is my most favourite combination and there are many recipes on this blog with that combo. Here’s another, strawberry and rhubarb jam. One of my most favourite jam combinations as well. I try and make this jam every year and when I lived in Houston, I was able to get local strawberries at the same time as rhubarb. In Colorado, our strawberries make a late appearance but our rhubarb is here. I just made do. It’s some what local but totally seasonal, totally organic and totally delicious.
Hopefully, we won’t go through all the jars in one sitting but we’re already done with one so it’s not looking good. I really like to save some for fall and winter. Oh well, I’ll have to make some more.
My posts may be a bit sporadic from now on. I’m starting a new project at work and it will take up more of my cooking hours. It’s also the beginning of the summer grilling events at work, and then Ramadan. I will try and post regularly and I will try to visit you all as much as I can.
Happy summer and happy cooking!!