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.
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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!

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?

An Open Letter to Paula Deen

I came across this blog post thanks to Bitch Media out of Portland, Oregon. Not only do I find it interesting because of all the hype around Paula Deen this week, but also because Michael makes great points about the power of language, and the evolution of food.

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An Open Letter to Paula Deen:

meinkitchen

Photo Courtesy of: Johnathan M. Lewis

Dear Paula Deen,

So it’s been a tough week for you… believe me you I know something about tough weeks being a beginning food writer and lowly culinary historian.  Of course honey, I’d kill for one of your worst days as I could rest myself on the lanai, the veranda, the portico (okay that was really tongue in cheek), the porch..whatever…as long as its breezy and mosquito-free.  First Food Network now Smithfield.  (Well not so mad about Smithfield—not the most ethical place to shill for, eh, Paula?)

I am currently engaged in a project I began in 2011 called The Cooking Gene Project—my goal to examine family and food history as the descendant of Africans, Europeans and Native Americans—enslaved people and enslavers—from Africa to America and from Slavery to Freedom.  You and I are both human, we…

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A Healthy Alternative–Kale Chips

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I have to admit I wanted to write this earlier today, but I’ve been distracted by my garden all afternoon. I’ve been transplanting, weeding, pruning, planting, and talking to my seedlings because I’ve heard that makes them grow faster (or that’s just my excuse for talking to myself). I was pleased to see immature tomatoes, bell peppers, and jalapenos making an appearance.

Two of the vegetables I’m growing in my garden this year for the first time is Swiss Chard and Kale. Last spring break I visited my aunt in Santa Barbara, California and we tried out kale chips for the first time together. They were delicious and a bit healthier than other salty snacks like potato chips. Once I got a hold of my own kale, I realized I could enjoy kale chips made at home. Not only are the kale chips homemade, but they are even healthier than packaged kale chips found in grocery stores because I know exactly where the ingredients are coming from, and they don’t contain extra ingredients and preservatives. 

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I’ll admit, my home-grown kale probably isn’t mature enough to make large batches of kale chips, but I just couldn’t wait. Before using my clean, sharp kitchen shears to harvest my kale, I looked up a few different kale chip recipes to get different flavor possibilities. I decided on the three following flavors: chili lime, lemon pepper, and salt & vinegar.

Some of the other flavors I stumbled upon included roasted garlic, creamy dill, balsamic vinegar, french onion, soy & sesame, along with cheesy black pepper. I’ll post the recipes for each below if you’re feeling creative. But first, I’ll give you the kale chip basics.

After harvesting or purchasing your kale, gently rinse and dry the leaves thoroughly. I skipped this step because I know my kale came from a pesticide and herbicide free garden. If you do plan to wash your kale be sure to get each water particle off every piece, otherwise you will likely end up with soggy chips. After drying, place your bite-sized kale into either a large bag, or roomy, lidded Tupperware. Add olive oil, and shake to cover leaves. The next step is to add any seasonings or flavors, and the spread out chips evenly on a baking sheet. In a 350 degree oven, bake till crisp for about 10 minutes, and enjoy. 

As I mentioned above, I tried out the chili lime, lemon pepper, and salt & vinegar flavors. Our family favorite was the lemon pepper, with salt & vinegar a close second. Also, I’d like to say the last photo is unfortunately not taken by me, because the chips seemed to disappear before I could snap a picture. 

Thanks to Womens’ Health and Refinery 29 for these adventurous flavor recipes:

For each, you can either add the ingredients to the bag to shake up, or sprinkle on before baking.

Lemon Pepper: sprinkle oiled chips with lemon pepper seasoning
Salt & Vinegar: 1 quarter cup sherry vinegar (I used rice vinegar) + 2 tsp fine salt
Chili Lime: Juice of 1 lime + 1 tsp lime zest + 2 tsp chili powder
Balsamic Vinaigrette: 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar + 1 tbsp Dijon mustard + 2 tsp Herbes de Provence
Roasted Garlic: 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped + 3 tsp garlic salt
Creamy Dill: 1 tbsp sour cream mixed with base olive oil + 3 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
Soy & Sesame: 2 tbsp soy sauce + 1 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds
French Onion: 1 packet (or two tbsp) french onion dip or soup mix, combine with olive oil 
Cheesy Black Pepper: 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil + 1/4 cup (loosely packed) shredded white cheddar cheese + 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

I hope you get a chance to try a few of these out. If you do, let me know which flavor is your favorite!

 

 

Gluten-Free Pizza Made at Home

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If you suffer from Celiac Disease, have a sensitivity to gluten, or you just want to try out something new, I’d recommend giving Namaste Foods a try. I first came across the company’s wide array of products due to my aunt who lives in a small, north Idaho town, and who is friends with one of the women who started the company in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. My aunt mentioned to her friend that I was a college student with a gluten sensitivity, and her friend graciously loaded up boxes of Namaste’s products for my aunt to pass along to me. I was thrilled; not only was it free food, but it tasted great, and I could be confident that the food would not leave me feeling sick to my stomach. So far, I’ve tried just about everything they have to offer, and I’d have to say their chocolate cake is by far my favorite. I make it all the time and people are surprised to hear it is dairy, egg, and gluten-free.

The reason why I wanted to focus on this company is not only their generosity and concern for their customers, but because I finally got around to trying the Namaste pizza mix.

The mix itself is fairly easy to make, especially compared to making pizza dough from scratch. The directions are on the back, but just so you can get a feel for what you might be getting yourself into, you blend together about 1 part mix, 1 part water, and 1 teaspoon of oil for 3 minutes with a hand-held mixer–and that’s it! You bake it like a normal crust, put on your toppings, re-bake, and enjoy.

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For my toppings, I used chicken, sausage, olives, red and yellow bell peppers, chives, tomatoes, and a variety of cheeses. To add my own personal flair, I sprinkled everything with finely chopped herbs from my garden, including basil, oregano, rosemary, and parsley. I also added this mix to the sauce, along with a healthy spoonful of minced garlic.

Overall, I am very pleased with my creation. The only thing I would change is to have a bit crunchier crust. Next time I will flip my crust before adding my toppings and baking the pizza for the final time.

How does gluten-free pizza made at home sound to you? Have you had any luck with making gluten-free pizza on your own? If so, what brands would you recommend for me to try out?

Rhubarb Cake

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Two weeks ago I started my summer job working at a grain elevator. So far my time has been spent in training and preparing for wheat harvest in the Columbia Basin. Although Eastern Washington is described as a desert wasteland, those who live here know how it prospers through agriculture. Because wheat harvest won’t start till about mid-July, I often find myself looking for things to do around the office. Also, because I’m ‘the new girl’ I wanted to find a way to make myself comfortable in the new space. My dad, who let’s be honest got me the job, mentioned to the guys that I had made a delicious rhubarb cake and that I should make another. At first I shook his suggestion off thinking it would be inappropriate, but then I realized the men who work with my dad aren’t much different from him. They too are fathers to daughters, even if they are grown, and they too have a sweet spot for food. I figured this is my in, and the next morning I woke up earlier than normal to pack my cooking utensils and pre-measured ingredients. The cake turned out beautifully, especially topped with vanilla ice cream, and the guys haven’t stopped talking about it a week later.

So I thought I share both my story and the recipe I used. First of all I’d like to get it out there that I’m not particularly a fan of rhubarb and I enjoy this cake. Secondly, I would advise all of you food and cooking fanatics to download the app called Foodily. The site is gorgeous and updates with new recipes daily which you can customize according to your preferences.  I found this recipe on Foodily which is linked to a wonderful food and cooking blog titled not without salt where you can find the original post for this recipe (or you can keep reading and find it below) along with other interesting recipes.

Let’s get on with it; the wait is over.

Rhubarb Cake

2 cups chopped (rough 1/2″) rhubarb
1/2 cup (not packed) brown sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, soft
1 cup (not packed) brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup plain yogurt (I used greek vanilla and it turned out fine)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda

Butter and flour a 8 or 9″ (2″ high) round cake pan.

Pre-heat your oven to 350*

In a small bowl add the rhubarb and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Let it sit for 30 minutes.

In a large bowl cream the butter and 1 cup brown sugar until light. Then mix in the egg and vanilla. Add the rhubarb mixture and yogurt. Stir well. In another bowl whisk together the dry ingredients then add it to the rest of the ingredients stirring well to combine.

Spread in your prepared pan and bake for 50- 60 minutes or until the middle of the cake springs back when lightly pressed.

I hope you enjoy!! And if you are a rhubarb nay-sayer, like I was, I hope this may change your mind.