Saturday, May 4, 2013

Rhubarb Ginger Jam

 Whether we realize it or not, food connects us to significant events in our lives, dating back to our very beginnings. I still remember the chocolate-covered graham crackers that I would dip into milk as reward for eating all of my vegetables at dinner. The chocolate was waxy and the crackers insipid, but, oh what a treat for this vegetable-eating eight-year-old. When I reached double digits, cream of tomato soup and grilled cheese was my go-to comfort food.  I shudder now when I think of the boxes of Velveeta that I consumed in the going.  I sought solace in casseroles during the seventies, and got my first taste of ethnic food in the eighties (introduced to exotic cuisines by Mr. O-P whom I didn't marry until twenty years hence). What we consume changes us. It educates our palates, expands our horizons, and leaves us with the enthusiasm for more. 

If you've lasted this long, you're probably wondering what all of this is leading up to. One word: rhubarb. As a kid rhubarb scared me. It looked like celery. Big. Weird. Red. Celery. My grandmother tended to cook it a lot. It was not pretty. Stringy and, frankly, frightening, I tried it when I was six, and never ate it again.  So, ever interested in expanding my horizons in my continuing effort to stave off Alzheimer's, I thought that it was probably time to try it again. 

Well, I'm a convert. This simple, easy-to-make Rhubarb Ginger Jam, a compilation of four unique recipes, has me convinced. Rhubarb. Is. Yummy. All I can think of now, as I eat it straight from the jar saving the biscuits for later is, why didn't I try this years ago?

I wish I could share it with my mom.

Rhubarb Ginger Jam

2 pounds
fresh rhubarb, cleaned, sliced into 3/4" chunks
2 ounces
candied ginger, finely chopped
1 heaping cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh orange peel

Combine all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan. Stir constantly over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Continue stirring as you bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until jam thickens and mounds on spoon, stirring often to prevent scorching, about 25-40 minutes. Transfer to jars. Cover and keep chilled, or can and process.

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Janet Rudolph said...

Love this post.. I was a fussy eater as a child--and look at me now! I don't think I had a clue what rhubarb was then.. but I love my rhubarb strawberry pie--with a chocolate crust, of course!

Marigene said...

Isn't it amazing how our tastes do change...I have always loved rhubarb, even raw with a little salt!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Pattie, I know I have probably tasted rhubarb at some point, but I can't recall the flavor. That being said, if you put ginger on something, it is a guarantee that I will eat it. Love ginger. So this sounds good to me.

When I was little, I was a very picky eater until I was about seven, and at that point, I had an epiphany, thanks to my father's urging to try new things, and branched out. His theory? Try something once, and if you don't like it, you never have to try it again, but don't say you don't like it until you have tried it. It worked!

I had a friend whose grandmother was Lebanese, and she used to fix kibbie. I loved it. Another friend's mother was Jewish, and she made the world's best chicken soup with homemade matzo balls. Loved that, too. Our favorite restaurant was Italian, and it was real Italian food made by and later supervised by a real Italian grandmother who was such a good cook that people convinced her to go into business. I still dream of her spaghetti.

We would spend summers on the coast and crab, so I learned to love seafood, and the first time I ate lobster, I became obsessed with ordering it. Then things got spiced up with gumbo, crayfish etoufee, etc. My favorite fish is Louisiana redfish. I also love catfish, and it can be fixed in other ways than frying which is, however, very good if done properly. My niece is a chef in NOLA, and while I haven't visited there since she got her job, I'm sure she could teach this old dog a few new tricks. :-)

But it seems the older I get, the simpler I like my food. Right now, I'm eating some delicious chicken salad made by my favorite caterer in town, sliced tomatoes, and sliced avocado with a hint of Tibetan salt and loving every bite!



Mary said...

Do you know I have never had rhubarb? I keep thinking I'm going to pick some up and introduce myself to it maybe gradually combining it with strawberry. I think I'll take the plunge with your jam!

Carole said...

Pattie, amazing colour on that jam. thanks for popping over and linking it in. Cheers