Easy Independence Day Dessert

This involves more rhubarb, I know too much, but I promise you will love this; it’s rhubarb dump cake, and most likely you will already have all the ingredients stashed in you pantry. This recipe will work especially well if you need to bring a dish to a backyard BBQ, and you’re low on time. It’s simple, delicious, and semi-homemade.

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RHUBARB DUMP CAKE

1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/4 inch pieces (between 3 and 4 cups)
1 cup white sugar
1 (3 ounce package) strawberry jell-o
1 package yellow cake mix
1 cup water
1/4 cup butter, meltedPreheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Spread the rhubarb evenly in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle the sugar over the rhubarb, followed by the jell-o, and finally the cake mix. Pour the water and melted butter over the top. Do not stir. Bake for 45 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender.

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 As you can see, I added a few blueberries on top before baking; I had them lying around and I thought they went well with the red, white, and blue theme. If the rhubarb cake looks to involved for you, please, please make this one. You won’t regret it.

Canning Craze– Rhubarb Marmalade

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As you may already know my rhubarb plant is flourishing despite it being July. Because of this, and because I despise throwing things away, I have found one more rhubarb recipe to use–Rhubarb Marmalade. In my first canning craze post where I wrote about rosemary jelly, I mentioned all the wonderful taste of home recipes I found in their 2013 summer issue. From now on, it’s safe to assume all jam and jelly recipes I post about are from this issue.

For this recipe you need about 8 half-pints, the usual canning supplies, and a food processor. Another very important thing to take note of is that this recipe takes about an hour and a half to complete, so give yourself time. The great thing about this recipe is that it only calls for three ingredients. Alright, let’s get started.

RHUBARB MARMALADE

6 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb, chopped
6 cups sugar
2 medium oranges

Combine the rhubarb and sugar in a Dutch oven on medium heat.

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Then grind oranges, including the peels, in a food processor; add to rhubarb mixture, and bring to a boil.

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Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring often until marmalade sheets from a spoon (about one hour).

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Remove from the heat; skim off foam. Ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust lids. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

I’ve already opened up my rhubarb marmalade and it’s a nice change from the berry jams I usually enjoy. Although the  citrus seems to be the star, you can still taste a nice hint of rhubarb in the background. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Poetry Monday- Dog Days of Summer

I spent the morning picking blueberries at an organic, u-pick blueberry farm near by. I’m thrilled to make those tasty berries into sweet blueberry jam, but more about that later in the week. By noon, me, my best friend from elementary school, and her two children, had already picked a whopping ten pounds. That’s pretty good for two little ones less than three feet tall!! I apologize if this seems like a side note, I promise I’m getting to the poetry folks, long story short, we only picked until noon because by then it was already triple digits. And now, at 5:30 in the evening it’s still 106 degrees outside. Don’t get me wrong, I love the heat, but today got me thinking about the phrase “dog days of summer.”

Because it is sweltering outside (at least where I live) I’ve decided to dedicate this Poetry Monday to the dogs. Today, all of our poems will be coming from Bruce Guernsey’s collection titled From Rain: Poems, 1970-2010.

I purchased this collection while under the impression that I would need it for a poetry course, however, the collection was not on the syllabi. When I asked our professor if I should send it back in the mail, she firmly said no. She told me to read it front to back, treasure it, and learn from Guernsey’s use of every-day objects in his poetry. The back of the collection’s cover says the following, and I know that’s just why Laurie Lamon told me to hold on to it:

In simple, spare language the poetry in FROM RAIN: Poems 1970-2010 examines the common objects around us as if they were clues to solving some kind of mystery. Ice, glass, stones, moss, and similar inanimate things take on meaning as the poet seeks to answer who and why we are.

Although I haven’t had time to read the collection through, I can contest Guernsey is using objects in this way with his poetry. Below I will include three poems included in this collection, all having something to do with the subject of dogs. I assure you this won’t be the last you hear about him on this blog, as I have found many other favorites of mine.

THE LADY AND THE TRAMP

As my mother’s memory dims
she’s losing her sense of smell
and can’t remember the toast
blackening the kitchen with smoke
or sniff how nasty the breath of the dog
that follows her yet from room to room,
unable, himself, to hear his own bark.

It’s thus they get around,
the wheezing old hound stone deaf
baying like a smoke alarm
for his amnesiac mistress whose back
from petting him is bent forever
as they shuffle toward the flaming toaster
and split the cindered crisp that’s left.

I think this is beautiful. My favorite image is of the woman’s bent back, and how the speaker contributes it to petting her animal and friend. I also love how Guernsey gets away with using the word “nasty” in a poem. This next one points out a truth that is so commonplace, we often overlook it; Guernsey makes it new.

SOMETIMES FOR HOURS

At my feet my dog,
a pastoral scene,

master and beast,
except in his dream

he’s chasing a car,
flinching awake

as the wheels hit–
the way we do

falling through sleep
suddenly saved.

What the mind questions,
the heart believes

and we lie there reasoning,
afraid.

The dog instead
scratches his ear,

nips at a flea
and is soon back twitching.

And the last one is just for fun.

THE SEEING-EYE DOG

sneaks out nights,
cool in beret,

his master’s dark glasses,
sips cointreau

at the dog cafe
and watches;

is the poet of dogs
with a voice that sees

for the man who can’t,
that speaks the meaning

of read, of green;
is the loneliest dog

at the dog cafe
where hounds down suds

and the barking
is loud.

Canning Craze–Rosemary Jelly

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I’ve titled this canning craze because in the past couple days it seems all I’ve been doing is making jellies, jams, and marmalade; and I’m not finished yet. I’ve got this week off due to Independence Day, and I’m dedicating it to preserving my favorite parts of summer (fruits and veggies) in small glass jars. I have made jam and done some pickling in the past, but this year is going to be different. My mom picked up a canning and preserving magazine by taste of home a while ago, and as I was thumbing through the various canning recipes, I definitely got excited about preserving my garden’s bounty.

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My first plan of attack was to make rosemary jelly. The magazine’s photo of the jelly was outstanding, of course, so I instantly went out to my garden and snipped off a few sprigs. File:Rosemary with bee landing.jpgThe recipe itself isn’t difficult to execute, especially compared to the rhubarb marmalade I made afterwards. The recipe claims to yield 3 1/2 pints, however I only filled 4 1/2 pint jars. Also, be prepared to do some straining. I used a colander along with a coffee filter; it’s cheap and easy.

Rosemary Jelly

1 1/4 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
3 cups sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 ounces liquid fruit pectin
2-3 drops green food coloring (optional)

In a large sauce pan, combine boiling water and rosemary; cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Strain, reserving liquid. If necessary, add water to measure 1 1/4 cups. Return liquid to pan; add sugar and vinegar. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat and stir constantly. Add pectin (be sure to use liquid pectin), bring to a boil, and stir for 1 minute.

Remove from heat, skim off foam, and add food coloring if desired. Ladle into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

To be honest, I did not know what I would put this jelly on before I made it, but I’ve found a few delicious uses for the green gel. For starters, I spread some laughing cow cheese on a cracker and topped it with the jelly.

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I thought it was great! It was sweet, tangy, creamy, and earthy all in the same bite. I think this would work with creme cheese as well, or any other mild, soft cheese. I’ve also heard of people using it on lamb, and other meats. I think I’ll give it a try on my grilled salmon tonight.

How does it sound to you? Do you have any fabulous uses for rosemary jelly?