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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