Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pot luck

End of summer potluck at Eckerton Hill Farm....

I wish I had taken more pictures of the gorgeous and wickedly delicious food. Alas, I got carried away visiting.

So good to catch up with old friends and make a few news ones.

And so good to see Rowan running wild through the fields with a herd of other children.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Corn moon

After weeks of saying I was going to get some putting up taken care of, the day finally cooperated. In fact, the whole family had a great day at home, productively puttering. It must have been the corn moon working it's celebratory, harvest magic.

The papa got the reel mower out and quietly did lawn laps, Rowan entertained himself (for the most part), and the mama managed to actually get some large enough chunks of calm time to process and can.

This year we planted Chiogga beets instead of the standard blood red beauties. I do so love the labyrinthine pattern and they are so darn sweet when roasted. The jury is still out on how they stand up to pickling. They were much less messy, but there is something to say about the red-bordering-on-purple color of the standard pickled beet. I have to admit, I kind of miss it. These are attractive in their own right, but a little dull.

What turned out to be anything but dull was the wickedly delicious blueberry rhubarb jam. Let me start by telling you, I adore blueberries. Blueberry pie, blueberry crepes, blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes. My mother knows better than to ask me to help pick either at her patch or any of the other "secret" woodland spots she frequents. I can spend all day picking and end up with a scant bucket of take-home harvest. One for me, one for the bucket...two for me, one for the bucket...three for me, one for the bucket. You get the picture.

What I don't like, have never liked, and swore would never like is blueberry jam. It's too sweet, too flat, too ugh. It always tastes like it's missing something. Like some ephemeral blueberry essence somehow escapes in the canning process never to return again.

But add a little rhubarb and whoa! That tart fiend inexorable linked with the strawberry gives the blueberry its groove back.

The best part about blueberries is, like under ripe apples, they act as the gelling agent. No pectin required. The naturally-thickened jam is tender, but certainly won't go running off your toast. This new-found collaboration may actually surpass raspberry-currant on my favorite jams list. (Yes, I have a favorite jams list. And am prone to buying ridiculous amounts of weird and wonderful preserves despite making my own each year.) I'm officially in love.

Blueberry Rhubarb Jam

8 cups blueberries
4 cups rhubarb, chopped into blueberry-sized pieces
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup water
4 cups sugar

In a large saucepan, combine blueberries, rhubarb, lemon zest, lemon juice, and water. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, reduce heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Stir in sugar. Increase heat to high and boil vigorously about 10-15 minutes until jam begins to set (thickens and gets shiny), stirring frequently. Remove from heat, skim off foam and stir for 3 - 5 minutes to suspend fruit evenly throughout jam. Fill sterilized jars and seal.

Makes about 4 pint jars or 8 half pint jars.