I feel like I’m trying to make up for lost time. When I first tried rhubarb last year, it was at the very end of its season and it’s hardly the most popular kid on the block when it comes to the freezer case at the grocery store. So now that rhubarb season has come around again–now closer to its end than beginning–I find myself buying it in bunches by the pound (more accurately, 5 pounds). I just can’t get enough of the color, its pretty red to pink to green stalks, or its flavor that reminds me of sour cherries.
Pie is of course a great way to use up a big bunch, but I don’t want to overload myself on pie before I even get to strawberries, blueberries, cherries, or peaches. Cake is good too, and I’ve simmered a good amount (4 cups chopped) with sugar and water (1 cup of each) and a vanilla bean (split) to make rhubarb syrup (cook for 20-30 minutes and strain) to add to seltzer or slightly more boozy libations that deserve neon bendy straws and a sunny day on the porch.
But how to keep a little taste of spring around longer than the last crumbs of baked goods or drops of syrup? Jam, of course. I picked up this cute little cookbook at Chicago’s Printers Row Book Fair last weekend and figured it was just the push I needed.
Ginger is a pretty common accompaniment to rhubarb’s tartness, and it’s easy to taste why. The prettiest rosey pink color of the jam looks like it would be overwhelmingly sweet but the tingle of ginger (in raw and candied forms) along with a little bit of sour from strips of lemon zest make this my new favorite thing.
I’m usually indifferent to jam stirred into yogurt, but this jam is perfect for that (and hey! pink yogurt! pretty!); I’ve also been spreading it on a slice of whole wheat bread with dried fruit baked in. It would be so perfect with scones or cream biscuits, and I can’t wait to use this in thumbprint cookies, or even some variation on a linzer tart or cookies.
…Excuse me, I need to go buy 5 more pounds of rhubarb before it’s all gone.
And so begins the Week of All Food, Thanksgiving week. The only holiday dedicated solely to cooking and eating (and appreciating the people you cook and eat with) is on Thursday and, as you would expect, I’m super excited and have all sorts of capital-P Plans. But since I know the latter half of this week will be overflowing with treats in all forms, savory and sweet, better to start the week with something light.
I’ve already mentioned that soup is one of my favorite dishes this time of year, and this particular one is just so good for so many occasions. Feeling like you’ve over-indulged in all that fall and winter have to offer (or know you’re about to)? This is substantial enough to satisfy, but won’t make you feel like taking a four hour nap after one bowl. Coming down with a bug and not in the mood for chicken soup? Copious amounts of ginger, garlic, and carrot are all fantastic for fighting whatever ails you. Or simply feeling especially virtuous? You will feel like a saint when you pull this out of your bag for lunch.
And now, a bit of a diversion–I was lucky enough to meet Deb Perelman who writes the Smitten Kitchen food blog (the source for this particular recipe) on Sunday, and it was amazing. Rare, perfect mid-November weather in Chicago, one of my favorite neighborhoods, awesome indie bookstore, and great company with the friend who introduced me to the Smitten Kitchen blog (thank you again Katherine!). Could it get much better? Turns out, yes!
Deb was, as expected, incredibly kind and generous to the huge crowd of people anxious to meet her, taking a few minutes to talk to everyone. And personally, when I mentioned that she inspired me to set up shop in this little corner of the internet and told her the name of the blog, she asked if I commented on her site because the name sounded familiar. Oh yes. This blog sounded familiar to Deb Perelman. Shut the doors, turn off the lights, we’re done here because it can’t get better than that.