Archive for cooking

August Challenge – The End?

IMG_2700I’m sorry I never posted last week.  We came out of the weekend of the 5th Annual Livingston County Farm Crawl, and were headed into preparation for a camping trip with our new-to-us camper.  With us leaving on Thursday, I had only 4 days to clean up from one busy weekend and prepare for another.

It probably doesn’t need to be said that we fell “off the wagon”, so to speak, on living ONLY off of the food in the house.  What’s in the house is mostly ingredients.  Translation: High-labor foods.  Farm Crawl weekend doesn’t allow for high-labor foods.  So I bought lunch meat, chips, and (gasp!) store-bought bread.  Plus frozen pizza.  I did use some of what we already had by throwing some meat in the crockpot one morning for that night’s dinner.  Yay me!

You can probably also guess that camping weekend isn’t exactly when I want to try to live out of the pantry either.  Besides having 4″ of counter space, plus a small table for a food-prep area, there are just some things you *have* to have on a camping trip, and I didn’t have those on-hand.

We did cook both dinners in the Dutch oven, using our own garden veggies.  I had to buy the meat, though, as we were out of anything even remotely convenient, or small enough for the smaller crowd coming on the trip.  I used mostly our own ingredients for any bread-type things – pancakes, biscuits.  I used our eggs for anything that required them.  I bought breakfast sausage and bacon, since our sausage and bacon are still on the hoof, not in the freezer.  Soon.  Very soon :)

Lunches were the same as Farm Crawl weekend – sandwiches and chips – so I didn’t have to cook and so they’d be easily portable in case we were going to take them with us on a hike.

So, August ends tomorrow.  I think we did pretty good, all things considered.  We spent far less on groceries than we normally would.  We will continue into September, since you can see that kitchen freezer is still full to the gills, and we still have a garden to continue harvesting from.  Stay tuned :)

(And if the picture is sideways, I’m sorry.  I don’t know what’s up with this thing lately, but it’s driving me crazy.)

August Challenge – End of Week 2

IMG_2479Well, as you can tell by looking in my refrigerator, we are in no danger of starving after 2 weeks of only minimal grocery shopping!  I’ve bought butter, lunch meat (mostly for my son so he can take sandwiches to work), and a few necessary basics, but nothing else.  We HAVE been given some bread and party leftovers twice now, which has helped satisfy the potato chip monsters and kept the thought of mutiny far from their minds.

We’re getting close to being out of chocolate chips so on Sunday I made pancakes (GASP!) without them.  Surprisingly, they didn’t complain.

The Farm Crawl is coming up this weekend and I need to decide how I’m going to handle it.  The days are long and busy and making a big meal isn’t a happy thought.  Lunch is the most difficult, since we have to try to eat while showing people around the farm.  In the past I’ve bought frozen pizza, bread and sandwich things.  I will probably do that again, since we won’t have time to cook anything else.  Though I could cook some things in advance to simply be reheated.  Dinner can be put in the crockpot in the morning so it’s ready at dinner time, though mornings are a little crazy with us making sure everything is taken care of.  I’ll let you know next week how it went.

So, we’re doing pretty well.  Saving money, still eating just fine.  Maybe we’ll extend this a few more weeks after August 😉

 

August Challenge – After Week One

IMG_2458 This week wasn’t too bad.  I mean we had a graduation party so lived off the extras from that for 2 days.  And we still had almost everything else we needed.  I did have to buy butter and ground beef and a couple of ingredients for our Trim Healthy Mama foods.  Not too bad :)

But I can see that things are going to start going downhill slowly.  It was already getting a little rough with “fruit” being the answer to the question, “What’s for dessert?”  My 10-year-old’s standard question after lunch or dinner is: “Can I have chocolate chips in a quarter of a cup?”  That’s the amount I started letting them have for some desserts a few months ago after they would just fill their palms or a small bowl with the things.  *sigh*.  He’s going to be very disappointed when pancakes and muffins become plain because he’s eaten all the chocolate chips in the house.  That should be in about a week…

For now, they have potato chips again, left oIMG_2459ver from our son-in-law’s informal birthday party yesterday.

August Challenge

Kitchen cabinetFor a long time, now, I’ve realized the need to shop for less food and consume what’s already in my house.  The problem has been the fact that though there is a lot of food in the house, it’s mostly ingredients.  That means that it’s not a quick thing to eat it.  You have to combine those things to create something.  Which means more dirty dishes.  Our household has become much busier this year and we already cook all our meals from scratch.  There are 9 people living here.  That’s a LOT of dishes to wash.  The sink is never empty for more than about 30 minutes now and then.  So we’ve – ok I’VE – become a little more “lazy” and picking up a few more convenience foods and snacks that I’m embarrassed to say we are eating simply to survive this current season of life.

The problem with this (besides the consequences of not eating the best food we can) is that when I shop, there isn’t really anyplace to put it.  The shelves are getting more and more disorganized and we’re constantly asking each other where specific items are.

freezer

Part of the problem – I really don’t even know what’s in here!

The solution to this, as I see it, is we simply need to dedicate some time to eat only the food that’s already in the house.  I’ve thought of doing it before, but I’ve decided this month is it.  One reason for choosing August, is that our garden is just about in full-production mode.  No risk of running out of veggies.  Our hens are laying, our goats are giving us milk.  We have some meat in the freezer, as well as beans, rice, noodles, seasonings.  We have fruits and veggies preserved from previous years and it’s almost time to start canning more, so we need to get the old ones off the shelf to make room for the new ones.  This won’t exactly be a sacrifice.  I think.  It’s easy to think this now, when we have lots of leftovers from Noah’s graduation party yesterday.  I know that in a couple of weeks we’re going to have to start being more creative.  There may be grumbling from a few family members.  The goal is to buy only absolute necessities.  Like butter.  I do have a cream separator now, so theoretically I can make butter from our goat cream.  I might actually give it a try.  I’ve made butter before with cow cream, but with goat cream it’s a little trickier.  I tried it once and it didn’t work.  Though I didn’t have the cream separator at the time, so there may have been milk mixed in there….  I’ll keep you posted.

 

Mushroom Harvest

IMG_4867This is going to be a short update on our mushroom growing adventure.  The top picture is of the portabellas I harvested 2 days ago.  They were pretty good sized, and meaty – just as they should be.  I used three of them in last night’s dinner which was a stew of goat meat, chana dahl beans, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, a can of tomatoes, and the portabellas.  As I’d hoped, none of the children (except Noah, but he eats anything so that’s ok) even NOTICED the mushrooms!  Noah almost gave it away, but at the mention of the word “mushroom” I gave him a quick “shh!” and the mom look.  Thankfully the other children were not paying any attention, and though Hannah asked what we were talking about, she hadn’t heard the cursed word.  Phew!  Everyone cleaned their plates – Andrew finished first – which was a big surprise.

 

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This morning I looked again at the directions for harvesting the Lion’s Mane mushrooms.  I was waiting for the “fur” to get longer, but then I found that if they are starting to turn at all yellow or brown on top that they need to be harvested NOW.  And they were.  So I cut off the three that had been growing.  The first picture is before harvest, showing the furriness of the mushroom.  Picture two is what it looks like on the inside – much like coral.  They are much spongier than even button mushrooms.

 

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The third picture is my breakfast.  I cooked up one of the Lion’s Mane mushrooms with onions, garlic, and broccoli.  Then scrambled some eggs to keep on the side.  The mushrooms are supposed to taste like lobster when cooked with onions and butter.  I’m not sure I agree with that at the moment, though I did like them.  First, I don’t think I cooked them enough.  Second, the broccoli kind of took over the flavor.  So next time – no broccoli and a longer cooking time.

 

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The LAST Zucchini

IMG_4047This is it.  Today we cut into our last zucchini for 2014.  So sad.  But, it was a BIG one, so it’ll serve a few purposes.  We baked zucchini fries to eat with our BBQ ribs for lunch.  I just tossed the slices in a bag with some olive oil, broil them till they start to brown and then salt them.  YUM!

Then for dinner I made Zucchini & Cheese Latkes – one of our favorites.  Actually a surprising favorite.  I knew I’d like them – but wasn’t so sure about the rest of the family.  Especially my squash-hating husband, but everyone likes them!  I picked up the recipe 14 or 15 years ago while on a homeschool field trip at the Rosenbaum ArtiFact Center in Chicago.  The kids were doing a pretend archeological dig of a tell, and while the kids were playing with that I was looking around the area and they had a few recipe cards.  This was one of them.  Sometimes I add ground beef for a more hearty meal, but today we just made them according to the recipe.  Since I already told you that I had one very large one left, I obviously didn’t use 6 medium zucchinis.  I used about half of the super huge zucchini.  I usually make some other substitutions based on what I have available.  The nearest grocery store is 6 miles away.  The nearest one likely to have what I need is 11 miles away.  So if I don’t have an ingredient, I substitute or leave things out.  I’ll put my substitutions in parentheses.  Here’s the recipe:

Zucchini & Cheese Latkes – Recipe from the Rosenbaum ArtiFact Center

6 medium zucchini, grated
3 eggs
5 scallions, thinly sliced widthwise (I just use a small onion, diced)
1/2 c. chopped parsley, without stems
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint leaves (I actually have this growing outside, so no subs needed!  Unless it’s winter.  Then I just leave it out.)
1 c. shredded mozzarella, Gruyere, or Swiss cheese (I never have Gruyere or Swiss, so it’s always mozzarella at our house.)
vegetable oil
1 to 1-1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste.
 
Combine zucchini, eggs, scallions, parsley, mint, cheese, salt, pepper, and 1 tbsp. oil in a large bowl.  Add the flour, a small bit at a time, and mix well after each addition.  Use enough flour to give the batter body but not too much to make it thick.  Heat 1/4″ of oil in a large heavy skillet.  (I actually use just enough to coat the bottom of the pan or they’re too greasy for us.)  Using a tablespoon, spoon the zucchini mixture into the hot oil and flatten with the back of a wet spoon.  (I use more like 1/4 cup or so for bigger pancakes.)  Cook on both sides until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels or brown paper bags.  (If you use less oil, you won’t need to do this.)
 

Give it a try :)

And, by the way.  I still have a little bit of that monstrous zucchini for one more meal or snack.  I’ll have to think about it.  Maybe chocolate zucchini muffins for breakfast :)

 

Harvest in Early Fall

IMG_3892THIS is lunch today.  Well, for Noah and I anyway.  Because he’s the only child still living at home that will eat pretty much anything.  Seriously.  A boy who eats baby octopus at a Chinese buffet can’t possibly balk at anything I make :)  But before I tell you more about our yummy lunch, I want to show you what I did BEFORE lunch, which brought this meal to the table.

For the past month the only garden products I’ve dealt with in any way, shape, or form, are eggplant and zucchini.  The eggplant has been going to restaurants in Chicago, with one now and then on my table.  The zucchini has been getting canned as pineapple-zucchini which is a very tasty treat.  Well – I did pick 2 cabbages to cook for dinner for Tasha’s college roommate, Gabby, who was with us for a weekend and wanted a yummy farm meal.  Back to the point:  I knew there were a few beans out there still, but that was ok.  I could lose a few.  The chard was looking great, but it keeps, so I ignored it.  The broccoli – yeah – pretty much done.  Cauliflower – picked.  Turnips and beets – too small to worry about yet.  And, mentally, I was “done” with the garden.  Didn’t care.  Fed up.  Time to enjoy some warm weather before the snow flies.

But, today it’s cool, and I wanted some chard for my lunch.  And ratatouille sounded good.  How about a combo of the two???  So out to the “other” garden I went.  First I picked a few leaves of chard. IMG_3886IMG_3891 Then I picked more and gave it to the goats.  They REALLY liked it.  Here is a pic of me with the chard.  Some of them are over 3′ tall!  (Ignore the bad hair and clothes of the woman holding the chard.  She doesn’t care much about her appearance until chores are done.)  Then I decided to see if there were any cucumbers that were NOT orange.  Uh, yeah.  About a dozen of them.  That brought me to the row of dragon tongue beans.  Yikes!  Tons of them!  So I started picking.  There were too many to fit in the crate, so I brought the crate to the house and got my big bowls.  IMG_3885By the time I was done, I had an overflowing LARGE bowl of dragon tongue beans, half a large bowl of lima beans, some broccoli, peppers – sweet and hot and a few tomatoes.IMG_3884

 

 

I also found the brussels sprouts starting to sprout.  We’ve never harvested any before because they always get a late start.  Maybe this time?  IMG_3888

 

 

 

Looking through the rest of that area I saw that our other two beans haven’t stopped producing like I thought.  This is one row of purple pole beans.  IMG_3887There’s another just like it.  And a thick row of another type of green bean.  No time today to deal with them though!

 

 

Just for fun, here is our trellis with gourds.  I sure wish I hadn’t planted so late.  I can’t believe how many I have even though half the seeds didn’t germinate added to a late start.  It’s very exciting!  IMG_3882 IMG_3880

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And LOOK at this radish!  I don’t know if it’s good to eat, but I picked two of the ones that are full of leaves and flowers but have small roots and fed them to the goats, too.  They were thankful for the treat.IMG_3883

 

 

 

Back to lunch.  So what is this concoction on my plate?  One small eggplant.  One extremely large leaf of chard.  Half of a medium zucchini, one small onion, three cloves garlic, two small tomatoes, bacon (and a little bacon fat), lemon juice (fresh), and salt.  What I did is chop the bacon and then cooked it in a large skillet till browned.  While that’s cooking cut the chard first – cut the leaf away from the stem.  Chop up the stem like celery, and cut the leaf into large pieces or strips.  Chop the onion, zucchini (seeds removed, peeled, though you don’t have to peel it), eggplant (I left the skin on), tomatoes.  When the bacon is browned, remove it with a slotted spoon and put it in a bowl or on a plate with paper towels to drain.  Pour off most of the grease, but keep a tablespoon or two of it in the pan.  Add the chard stem and onions and saute on a low-medium heat.  After about 2 minutes, add the zucchini and eggplant.  After several more minutes add the tomatoes, chard leaves and garlic and continue to cook until all is done – about 5 more minutes.  When it’s all cooked, squeeze the juice of half a lemon over it all, and sprinkle on some sea salt and some of the bacon pieces.  I’d cooked a pound of our American Guinea Hog bacon, but didn’t use it all for this.  The rest of the pieces I’ll save for another meal.  Then I divided it up onto two plates – one for me, and one for Noah.  YUM!

Small Acres – Part 3

100_5324Cottage Food Operation

During the second session at the Putting Small Acres to Work workshop series, I went to the one about the IL Cottage Food Law.  About two years ago, I attended a talk about the new law, but I wanted to see if anything had changed and to be certain I fully understood it.  The session was presented by Wes King of the Illinois Steward Alliance, who helped get this law passed.

This was kind of a big deal in Illinois, because before January 1, 2012, there wasn’t a clear law in place.  People who had been selling preserves, breads, etc., at farmers markets for years were suddenly being shut down because it had technically never been legal.  It just hadn’t been enforced.  When farmers markets grew in popularity, some health inspectors realized what was happening and were shutting down small mom-and-pop businesses – cutting off some of their income.  This law was made to again make it legal for these people to earn an income by selling home-baked goods.

The foods that can be made to sell by a cottage food operation are: high-acid jams, jellies and preserves, high-acid fruit butters, and baked goods such as breads, cookies, cakes, pies, and pastries.  Pies allowed are from high-acid fruits.  It may also sell dry herbs, dry herb blends, and dry tea blends intended for end-use consumption.  A cottage food operation may only sell products at a farmers market in Illinois and gross receipts from the sale of food allowed under the law may not exceed $25,000 in a single calendar year.

There are also specific labeling requirements – name and address, common name of the product, all ingredients listed in order of weight, date processed.  It also must state the following phrase:  “This product was produced in a home kitchen not subject to public health inspection that may also process common food allergens.”  A placard with this statement must also be displayed prominently at the point of sale.  Allergen labeling as specified in federal labeling requirements is also required.

The operation must also have a Food Service Sanitation Manager Certificate approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health.  The food does not need to be produced in a kitchen inspected and certified by the health department.  But, if you do have access to a certified kitchen you can produce any of the other foods that aren’t allowed by the Cottage Food Law.

I was glad that I attended this session because it gave me a better understanding of the work it took to get this law passed, and why some of the provisions are in place currently.  One of the parts of the law that is annoying to me is about being allowed to sell ONLY at farmers markets.  Wes explained that this law was meant to help create a stepping stone between a small at-home business and a full commercial business – which he said has been happening.  And THAT is exciting.  It allows people to start small, earn some money and save up to start a larger business, which benefits more than just the business owner.  If they allowed the items to be sold from the home, then it falls under the commercial business rules and it would all have to be produced in a commercial kitchen.  There are many people who hope this will change eventually, but it seems that these things always take a long time to change.

One of the people that sat in on this session mentioned that if a person wishes to build a commercial kitchen to NOT do it until you talk with the department of health FIRST.  It’s already an expensive job and if you do something wrong and it has to be fixed, it will cost even more.

Please, do NOT take this blog post as being comprehensive!  If you live in Illinois and wish to see if this is something you would like to do, you need more information!  Read the guidance document that the IDPH put together for local health departments to help them implement the law.  It is IDPH Technical Information Bulletin (TIB) #44.  This can be viewed by visiting the Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s Cottage Food Law page at http://www.ilstewards.org/content/12404.  More information is available at www.ilstewards.org by clicking on the “Policy Work” tab and looking at the resources there.  I also highly recommended building a relationship with your local/county health department early on so that you follow all the rules from the beginning to make it easier on yourself :)  If you live in another state, contact your local health department to see what laws are in place for a similar operation.

Seasonal Eating

Chopped chard, red pepper and red onion

Chopped chard, red pepper and red onion

In the spring, in the midst of the craziness of May (one son’s college graduation in another state, and another son’s wedding 3 weeks later), I had this idea of blogging weekly on the topic of seasonal eating.  Then next year focusing on eating locally.  Then, if I’m really ambitious, in the third year moving to eating mostly what we produce on our place.  I can’t completely separate those because what we produce ourselves, as well as food that is grown locally, is also seasonal by default.  But not everyone grows a garden or raises chickens and I want this to help everyone think more about eating seasonally.  The pictures on here are from tonight’s dinner.  At the end I’ll tell you what it is.

Onion, pepper and chard stalks cooking

Onion, pepper and chard stalks cooking

With our 21st century American grocery stores, we don’t really know what seasonal eating even is.  Everything is available all the time, or most of the time.  There are a few exceptions.  One is sweet corn.  Because of shipping long distances it is available for an extended time, but for most of the year you cannot get fresh sweet corn.  You must buy it canned or frozen, but it’s still available.  A few exceptions are some tropical fruits.  I can’t always buy an avocado or kiwi.  Maybe those of you in much more highly populated areas can, but in our area we can’t.

Chopped chard leaves

Chopped chard leaves

Some of you may be thinking, “So what’s the big deal with eating seasonally?”  The main reason to do it is to save money.  Food in season is a lot cheaper.  I can generally buy fresh pineapples year-round but I can tell when it’s in season (wherever it’s grown) because the price goes down to around $1.50, and sometimes it’s as low as 99 cents.  When it’s not in season it’s as high as $3 or more, and they are also usually smaller out of season and bigger in season.  So when it’s in season it’s really a lot cheaper because you get a bigger pineapple for a lower price!  Another good example comes from my son’s wedding in May.  I was making their wedding cake.  The bride doesn’t like regular cake so I was trying to figure out what to make.  It wouldn’t be fair for the bride to not want to eat her own wedding cake!  Then I found out she likes cheesecake.  So I made cheesecake covered with strawberries.  I was concerned with not getting good berries – I needed them to be relatively close in size and shape, plus I needed them to be ripe and not spoil quickly.  But, fortunately, the wedding was May 25 – PRIME strawberry season!  BIG packages were at the store for very little money, and they were in excellent condition, perfectly ripe and pretty uniform in size.   If their wedding had been in October, it would have cost a lot more money and there would probably have been a lot more wasted berries due to spoilage.  Another reason is freshness and increased vitamins and minerals.  Food in season is more likely to be closer to local, which means it wasn’t picked unripe and shipped hundreds or thousands of miles to the store.  Obviously pineapple isn’t a locally-grown food for and IL resident, though.  But the strawberries were grown closer to home.

Adding in cooked garbanzo beans and chard leaves

Adding in cooked garbanzo beans and chard leaves

So this is my challenge to myself – to do my best to buy food for my family that is in season.  That means that sometimes we won’t be eating something we might really want, even though it’s sitting on the store shelf.  We’ll just wait for the right season when it’s cheaper.  There’s always something in season.  I think it will be fun and help us get out of the routine of eating the same kinds of food all year.  Buy what’s in season and look up new recipes to use them.  I also want to use those times to buy a little more than usual and can or freeze the extras so we can eat it out of season – at the same price as in-season.  For example, blueberry season is upon us.  I’ll be buying a lot of them and freezing them for use in my smoothies over the course of the year.

Salt, spices and lemon

Salt, spices and lemon

 

My plan is to blog once a week about what we’ve eaten and highlight the seasonal items.  And in so doing, encourage you to start to think about eating seasonally yourself!  Tonight our seasonal item was Swiss chard.  Our garden got a late start and so far we’ve had lettuce and spinach.  Even the peas aren’t ready yet.  But kale and chard are doing well now.  A few days ago I took out a bag of garbanzo beans from the freezer.  I’d cooked a bunch of them a couple of months ago.  We used some that night and the rest were divided into several freezer bags to be used in other meals later.  So this is what I did…  I chopped up a red onion and a red pepper and the stalks of the chard.  Those were sauteed together in olive oil for 5-7 minutes.  Then I added the thawed beans and the chopped chard leaves.  I cooked that for about 5 more minutes until the leaves were wilted and the beans were warm.

The complete meal - Garbanzo chard saute with homemade whole wheat bread and butter

The complete meal – Garbanzo chard saute with homemade whole wheat bread and butter

Then I sprinkled on salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder.  Normally I’d have used fresh pressed garlic, but I ran out.  I mixed that up well over the heat, then removed the pan from the heat and squeezed the juice of one lemon over the whole thing.  I really enjoyed it!  And other than the complaint about the red pepper from my youngest child, everyone ate it.  They didn’t beg me to make it again, but I’m still working on getting them to learn to like a wider variety of foods :)

Rhubarb

Learning to like new foodwhole pie

When I was 8 or 9 years old my family moved to a “new” house.  It was actually older than the “old” house, but it was a new place to live.  I’m sure you all get my meaning.  At the back of our lot there was a rhubarb plant.  Bush?  Whatever you call it, it was big.  No one in our family liked rhubarb, so my mom spent about a decade trying to kill it off and finally she was successful.  I don’t know if I’d even tried it back then.  But apparently my parents didn’t like it, and especially my mom, since I don’t think she would have worked so hard at killing it if she’d liked it.  I did have a small bit of strawberry-rhubarb jam once as an adult and I wasn’t impressed.  Too tart for me.  So, for that reason, I’ve never bothered to plant it.

Fifteen years ago I had my fourth child.  Our third son, Noah.  Noah has turned out to be a very unique member of our family when it comes to food.  The reality is, is that there is almost nothing that he doesn’t like.  Really!  Every other child is picky about something, some of them about LOTS of things.  Even my husband has a general distrust of anything green, though he’ll eat almost anything I put in front of him, because it’s something he didn’t have to cook himself.  But not Noah.  He actually LIKES the food. It’s been rather fun the past several years when I want to experiment with new foods, because no longer am I the only one that likes things.  I can, at least, count on Noah liking it too.  So I have someone else to share my new love of broiled asparagus with olive oil and salt with.  Someone who also looks forward to ratatouille in mid-summer.  Someone who likes rhubarb.

“What do you mean, you like rhubarb?”  I asked him a few years ago.  “Can’t we grow it!?” he asked.  “No. I’m not growing rhubarb for one kid.  Maybe if I also liked it, but I don’t.  It takes years to get established to produce a decent crop and you’ll be grown up and moving out by then, so THEN what will I do with the stuff??  I’ll spend 10 years trying to kill it just like my mom did.”

A couple from our church, good friends of ours, has rhubarb in their backyard.  They’ve asked now and then if we’d like some in the spring and I’ve always turned it down.  “You just need more sugar,” they say.  I’ve answered that if I have to add that much sugar to make it palatable, it’s not worth the effort and can’t possibly be healthy.  So a couple of years ago Noah was old enough to start mowing the lawn, and about once a week he mows “their” yard.  Spring came, and apparently he tried some strawberry rhubarb something-or-other at their house.  He came home rather excited, telling me I need to make some of this stuff – and grow it!  No chance.

The following year they sent home with him 2 or 3 bags of the stuff, frozen, so I could make something for Noah.  A year later I think I tossed it out to the chickens or the compost pile.  I felt guilty about it, as I really had planned to make him some jam, but our strawberries didn’t produce anything that year and I kept forgetting about it, and finally it was freezer-burned and no good.  fruit for pie

I don’t think they gave us any last year, but today Noah mowed their lawn and came home with a medium-sized storage bowl full of chopped rhubarb.  “Can you make a pie tonight?”  *sigh*  I DID just buy some strawberries, though not many and Andrew really likes fresh strawberries, so I didn’t want to use them all in a rhubarb pie.  “Apple rhubarb!” he says.  “Apple?  Does rhubarb go with apple?”  “Pam says it goes with anything!”  (Visualize a 15-year-old giving you puppy dog eyes…)  After dinner he asked – again- if I’m going to make him a pie.  *sigh*  So I pulled out the 1986 Betty Crocker Cookbook to see what I’m supposed to do with this stuff and started to make an apple-rhubarb pie.  I used 2 cups of rhubarb.  Then I chopped a granny smith apple.  That left me just a little short of the 4 cups of fruit I needed.  So I cut up enough strawberries to get us to 4 cups.  One and a third cups sugar, a few flicks of cinnamon (about a teaspoon), 1/3 cup flour.  Mixed it all up.  It did look pretty – green, red and white – and sparkly from the sugar.  I made the pie crust, poured in the fruit, threw on plops of butter, then the top crust, and baked it for 45 minutes at 425 degrees.  In the meantime I put the rest of the chopped rhubarb in 2 freezer bags to save for when our strawberries are in and I can make a batch of strawberry-rhubarb preserves so the boy will be happy.

slice of pieThen the pie was done.  It looked so pretty and smelled really good.  But I’ve been tricked by good smells before.  Like flavored coffee.  Smells good, but it’s nasty stuff.  We let it cool a little while, then Noah and I each took a piece.  A big one for him, little for me.  Oh.  My.  Gosh!  It’s actually yummy!  Not any more tart than an apple pie, and the strawberry in there….  yum!

I’m still not sure if I’m going to plant any of it, but I won’t be turning down any free gifts of it anymore, either 😉