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Posts tagged ‘Children’

Parfait! A Perfect May Day Surprise!

The tradition of May Day is celebrated around the globe. Each culture has its own take but the traditions boil down to spreading kindness to another.

As a kid I remember leaving little bouquets of hand picked flowers at our neighbors door and enjoying the anonymous aspect of it, or at least I thought I was being sneaky, I’m sure they knew.

Hand picked flowers Hannah WP

Now a quarter mile from my next adult neighbor and further from those with children, no flowers land on our doorstep and well we haven’t a doorbell either, no fun meter here. Yes, life is hard here in the countryside. However, due to modern technology we no longer hike up hill both ways in a snow storm to get to school, we drive and thankfully so does the UPS truck.

Image 30 no logo WP Parfait

You see May Day surprises are still possible. May 1st I found a peculiar box at our front door. Yes, I know who physically left it and so does my dog who is now enjoying his treat.

Image 31no logo parfait box WP

I look really surprised

Peculiar because it had ICE CREAM printed all over it. Could it really be? You gotta hand it to today’s transportation system. I knew you could ship live baby chicks but ice cream too? Parfait I say, well not really but that too was printed all over the box as well.

Image 28 no logo parfait WP EVA

Giddy with curiosity that someone would send us ice cream and full of excitement my family opened the box. Front and center we find a “caution dry ice” letter. All of a sudden this gift has an added bonus, ice cream and a learning opportunity/science experiment!

Image 29 caution parfait WP

Image 25 Eva no logo WP Parfait Image 26 Image 32

Image 34 Parfait no logo Eva ice WP

Finding out what happens when…

Image 37 Eva, dry ice Parfait

Dry Ice mixes with apple juice

Image 33 Eva Dry Ice Parfait WP

The excitement begins!

Image 36 Eva Dry Ice Parfait WP

pretty fun…


Science at it’s best…and fun to watch too!

Image 14 May Day Glo WP

Or, in the sink with water!

Upon further inspection we found the packing slip which spilled the beans on the delicious flavors within.

~Meyer Lemon
What they say it tastes like: Imagine the same sweet and tangy goodness of lemon curd frozen into a smooth and creamy ice cream. We use Meyer lemons, which are thin-skinned and delicately perfumed.

~Mint Stracciatella
What they say it tastes like: Our mint doesn’t taste like candy canes, but rather fresh mint, straight from the garden. That’s because we steep our custard with real organic spearmint leaves from Marigold and Mint. Our delicate, chocolate flakes are made using TCHO organic chocolate and traditional Italian methods.

~Fleur de Caramel
What they say it tastes like: A traditional French caramel with a silky texture and beautiful amber color. We use just the right amount of genuine Fleur de Sel to bring out the deep caramel taste. Neither overly salty nor cloyingly sweet.

~ We also found out who the sender was…Thank you Ira and Courtney for sending such a fun and yummy gift!

funny factoid:

For all those who have spontaneously declared some sort of resolution and broken it before it began…I’ll add I too can sympathize. Not just 2 hours before that peculiar box arrived I had spurted the words ” I think I’ll give up sugar for the month of May”

…maybe the second half of the month of May.

Bon appetit!

Head Shot RachelleRachelle @ caramelize life

“Making Life A Little Sweeter Through Food, Travel and Community”

Bruschetta In Eleven Minutes Tops!

Bruschetta landscape

A favorite in our home because we love Italian food anything, it’s healthy and a snap to make.

Bruschetta in the making

When my daughter was four she came in from munching sweet cherry tomatoes and basil in the garden and exclaimed ” We have a grocery store in our backyard!”  Then she asked…”can we grow a mozzarella plant?” She asked the proper question; can we? If only that were possible. “I wish we could.” was my answer. However, these questions did open the door to researching how mozzarella is made, and where it comes from. I’ve not yet ventured to make it myself, but I hear Mozzarella is pretty easy to produce, so I’ll have to try it and get back to you about that.

Until then, here’s our favorite bruschetta recipe:


1 Local baguette sliced (I love the Mazama Store’s because it has a wee bit of salt on top)
2-3 Red, preferably heirloom, garden tomatoes (however with snow still on the ground, organic vine-ripened tomatoes have the most flavor)
15 Basil leaves or as many as you have slices of bread
Fresh mozzarella (you can find the pre-sliced kind at some stores) to top the slices of bread
salt for sprinkling
Olive oil (Italian) to drizzle
Balsamic Vinegar (aged has a sweeter flavor, but any will do) to drizzle

Bruschetta olive oil drip drop bottle


1. Toast the slices of bread, or if you have time put them over the grill or gas burner, to toast
2. Add sliced mozzarella
3. Add Basil face up to catch some of the oil and balsamic drizzle
4. Add sliced tomatoes to each
5. Sprinkle with salt
6. Drizzle with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Bruschetta Ready To Eat!

Buon Appetito!

* Thank you to Diane, Geof, Linda, Marc, Hannah and Eva for patiently waiting to devour these tasty bites while E.A did his photo dance to capture the bruschetta when freshest.

Head Shot RachelleRachelle @ Caramelize Life

“making life a little sweeter, through food, travel and community”

Potato Leek Soup

Today I sat down to write but found myself procrastinating by looking through my iPhoto library reminiscing about an Ireland trip we took a few years back. This trip ranks high in my all time favorites. We shared it with family and good friends, where we traveled through rolling fields following rainbows start to end, finding our Irish luck in the form of sunshine mid March.

That year my husband turned forty ceremoniously on St. Patrick‘s Day. We learned about falconry, bog ponies, and I found one of my favorite cookbooks The Forgotten Skills of Cooking. We enjoyed our share of Guinness and sampled potato leek soup along the way.

My littlest, is a connoisseur of potato leek soup, she has a discerning palate for the tastiest homegrown potato. She is also privy to the whole process, kudos to Tess Hoke, founder of Local 98856 and the Methow Valley Community School Locavores lunch program where she learned the garden to table journey.

Years later and I am still trying to perfect that tasty soup and win her nod. Until tonight, when I received that approvingly tilt of her towhead and a unanimous two thumbs up from the rest of my family. Nothing feels so good as a warmed bowl of soup steaming with flavor, a local brewed beer in a handcrafted glass to finish off the evening.

Close Up Potato Leek Soup 2/1/13 WP

Potato Leek Soup (serves 6 but I usually double it for left overs and lunch boxes)
[inspired and introduced to me from “around my french table”  and Stew Dietz Event Planning and Catering]

What you will need:

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 large organic onions chopped
2 organic garlic cloves, germ removed and crushed
Salt, freshly ground white pepper
3 organic leeks white parts only spit lengthwise and chopped thinly
2 large organic russet potatoes peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon dried thyme or a few fresh sprigs
1 teaspoon dried sage or a couple fresh leaves
4 cups homemade vegetable stock (we have a mixture of folks around our table so I play it safe and go veggie most of the time but any stock or water will work).
1 cup whole milk
2 cups half and half (you can omit this and use water, or any combination of dairy just remember it will be lighter).
4-5 croutons per serving

What to do with your scrumptious ingredients:

melt the butter adding onion until coated then add in garlic, salt and pepper, cover and cook until onions are soft 6 minutes or so (making sure not to burn them)
Add leeks, potatoes, thyme, sage, stock and dairy
bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes until potatoes and leeks are soft

Serve in warmed bowls topped with croutons


let soup cool and puree into a thick and creamy soup, then warm and serve
top with cheese or add some colorful chives
serve cold and top with pear or apple

Funny little fact:
In the nineteenth century potatoes were accused of leading housewives astray due to the fact that potatoes required so little time and effort to prepare that it left female hands idle and primed to do the Devil’s work. [good thing I’m too busy for any of that! ;-)]
~Rebecca Rupp

Bain sult as do bhéile! (enjoy your meal)

Head Shot Rachelle Rachelle @caramelize life

“making life a little sweeter through food, travel and community”



We at Caramelize Life wish you a wonderful Valentine’s Day filled will all that matters most to you.


Head Shot Rachelle Rachelle @ Caramelize Life
“Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community”

Cookie Classics

Long ago I swore off cookie and candy baking because of one unescapable reality: I could happily live on these foods alone.

There are only two qualifiers that call for such activities; one, if it’s the Christmas season and two, if I am pregnant.  Currently both qualifications are met so treats abound!

After producing these batches, some improvisations and others classic recipes from the Swedish lineage, it was gratifying to see so many ingredients in use from preserves of the summer.  Among these are dried apricots, apple-maple jam and rhubarb sauce.  In the fruit bar recipe here, the flavors of these preserves prove magnificent.

Expecting, for me, means sickness, and often eating doesn’t happen until post lunch time.  The tea and cookie brunch is one solution, and the cookie cocktail makes for a sort of insta-party.  Morning sickness doesn’t stand a chance against butterballs and fruit bars.  I am thus determined.

front to back: apricot, rhubarb, apple-maple bars

front to back: apricot, rhubarb and apple-maple bars

Breakfast with cocktail ~

Breakfast with cocktail ~

These three recipes comprise three Swedish generations of holiday treat baking, one from myself, one from my mama and one from her mother.  Grandma Rene’s is authentically Swedish whereas the other two are simply yummy creations made by we with Swedish heritage.

~ Butterballs (Swedish Grandma’s Recipe) ~

With her grand dinner parties, gracious hostessing and Swedish cooking ~ any recipe from Rene is a sure winner.  So it is with these ever so tasty butterballs.  My mother emailed the recipe, along with the potato starch cookie classic which I’ll have to share, and we had excellent results.  These cookies qualify for the ‘anytime, anywhere’ list.

The cookie produced will be subtle yet rich in flavor.  It is a basic cookie at face value, but that would be underestimating the delectable treat.  At first I was worried about the small measure of sugar that it requires, but I would not change the recipe a bit.  For this one, I encourage no modifications for perfectly balanced, nutty, buttery consistency.

1 cup butter

4 Tablespoon powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups sifter flour

1 cup chopped nuts

1-2 cups powdered sugar

~Cream butter; add sugar and beat until light; add vanilla and beat again

~Add flour and mix well; fold in chopped nuts.

~Shape into small balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 15-18 minutes on 350º F or until just firm and beginning to golden.

~Roll in powdered sugar while still warm; allow to cool before serving.


~ Fruit Bar Cookies with Preserves ~

I toke a classic, simple bar cookie recipe from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook and created three different new fruit combinations.  Each of these (apricot-date, apple-maple and rhubarb) came from the pantry, produced from garden and gathering in the sweet summer months.  And each can be reproduced or replaced if desired.

1 cup flour (I use Bluebird Grain Farms flour here)

1 cup oats

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup butter

1 recipe fruit filling

~Combine first four ingredients in a bowl and mix well; chunk cold butter into flour mixture and blend with a pastry blender or food processor until resembling course sand.

~Reserve 1/2 cup pastry mixture and set aside; with remaining pastry mixture, spread on bottom of an ungreased 9 x 9 ” baking dish or pan; mash down to one even layer.

~Top first cookie layer evenly with fruit filling of choice; sprinkle remaining pastry mixture on top of fruit.

~Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes or until top crust begins to brown.

Apple-Maple Fruit Filling

I used my recipe for apple-maple jam, found on the preserves page (Canned & Preserved 2012), but here is a simple sauce  that approximates the jam recipe.

1 1/2 cup apples (preferable a tart variety) peeled and cored

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup maple syrup

pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg

~Bring apples and water to a boil and reduce to simmer for 3 minutes; add maple and spices and simmer for a couple minutes more; thicken with flour if desired; cool slightly and spread evenly on first cooking layer.

Apricot-Date Fruit Filling

1 cup dried apricots

1/2 cup chopped dates

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

3 Tablespoons flour

~Chop apricots; bring apricots to a boil in water and let simmer for about 5 minutes or until soft; add sugar and flour and simmer for a couple minutes more; remove from heat and add dates; spread on top of first cookie layer.

Rhubarb Fruit Filling

Using rhubarb sauce is just fine for this version; see the recipe at article The Barb is On.  I used rhubarb from the freezer that I had washed and chopped this summer.  Here’s the quick cook down sauce that maintains some of the chunky freshness of the barb.

1 1/2 cups rhubarb

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

4 Tablespoons flour

~Using a small sauce pot, boil water and rhubarb and reduce to a simmer; add sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes; add flour as needed to thicken and simmer a minute more; cool slightly and spread evenly on first cookie layer.


~ Peanut Butter Tiger Fudge ~

Super quick, fun to make with children and universally popular, this family recipe is one we make every year.  It is easy to modify to your liking, i.e. remove or switch out nuts, coat with dark chocolate, light, or none at all.  It seems to get eaten faster than any other holiday treat, regardless of the latest version.  And if you are in a rush to produce some fast candy, this recipe is a sinch with no baking involved.

1 lb. candy coating (almond bark)

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup walnuts or other nuts

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

~Melt coating in a saucepan over medium neat, stirring constantly until smooth; remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and nuts.

~Fit tin foil to a shallow baking pan or two such as cake pans; spread candy mixture evenly to coat, about 1/4 inch.

~With spoonfuls of warm chocolate, spread in zig-zag patterns over top of candy mixture.

~Chill for 1 hour +; remove from refrigeration and cut or break into two inch pieces; store refrigerated or at room temperature.

Love from our kitchen to yours!  ~Georgina @ Caramelize Life

And the Winner for the Food with the Highest antioxidant content is…(drum roll please) Part Two

If you are just joining us check out part one of our chocolate tour.

part two…

We hit the prime time to view the cacao tree, because in early to mid June, the tree is in bloom with flowers, new leaves are emerging from the top, and the cacao pods are ripening.  Michelle cut open a cacao pod so we could see the white fibrous center and the seeds nested within.

Did you know that Hawaii is the only state in the USA where chocolate trees grow?

Next on our three hour tour we are happily seated under the big top, the Steelgrass’s newest addition. Here is where we trust Michelle and taste little bits of chocolate from numbered ramekins.

This blind test allows us to banish any preconceived ideas we bring and let our taste buds tell us  what we really like, rather than great marketing. This method draws out each of our inner wine enthusiast and we write down adjectives like smoky, pungent, fruity with a gritty mouth taste with an earthy flavor. These words are the ‘terre’ (french for place) that describe the chocolate and the flavors that swim in our mouths bumping into our sweet and salty taste buds.  The flavors pop in our mouths and our taste buds jobs are made easy purely responsible for sending messages to our vacation brain, so we may conjure up visuals of the tropical landscapes the samples of chocolate originate from.

Cacao bean and chocolate covered nibs

Of course, if you didn’t have the patience for all this nonsense and preferred to just eat your chocolate pieces and doodle on paper with crayons (like I said; no rock was left unturned) then Annabelle had a small following in another tent just for you nonconformists.

Meanwhile in the big top we traveled back in time and followed Michelle through chocolate’s historical journey from start to present day. Then we were given the secret DIY knowledge of transforming these cacao nibs into rich, creamy, melt in your mouth chocolate complete with kitchen appliance recommendations for the aficionados in our group.

The last bit of information we absorbed was what brought us here in the beginning; we now know which chocolate our taste buds have decided is the best from around the world.

For me it was the 70% Kallari “Red Leaf.” Forastero/Nacional, grown in Ecuador. I was happy to hear that it is also a very socially responsible production with a great story, another bonus to all the good news I am learning about chocolate!

Armed with facts and research to support their debate I believe our family favorite smoothie will be made more often this summer. Below is our combination of Ed’s Juice and Java’s; Funky Monkey and Molly of Glover St. Market’s; Energy Boost.

Cacao Nib Smoothie

2 Peeled Bananas

1/4 cup Cacao nibs

3 cups Almond milk

1/2 cup Almond Butter

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

liquid chocolate to taste (optional for sweetness)

Blend together adding more liquid depending on desired thickness


Have it cold: if you make too much or have left overs simply pour into a Popsicle mold and pop it in the freezer for a healthy summer treat.

Fact: Cacao has one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of any food. Antioxidant levels are measured by Oxygen Radial Absorbance Capacity. Per 100 grams, cacao nibs have 95,000 compared to; broccoli 890, spinach 1,540, acai berries 5,500 and dark chocolate 13,120.

*source handout.

Aloha kakou!

Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

Mutual Giving

Of all that I love of writing about food at Caramelize Life, topping the list is the opportunity for mutual giving.

When we began this venture of writing garden to table recipes from our heritage and kitchens, it was blissful in itself. Making life a little sweeter through cooking with family and friends is naturally full of joy.

Limoncello, made with love and sunshine by the Weymuller family

The happy bonus is sharing with all our wonderful readers and fellow writers across the world!  The very nature of cooking blogs invites us to support one and other.

In giving our ideas, feedback and support to each other, everyone benefits.  Rather than competition, it is collaboration ~ active, mutual giving that leads us all towards more knowledge and happy success.

A gift from Mama Rachelle ~ her home made vanilla extract

Sharing our knowledge and methods about food is as ancient as we people are. Rachelle and I are happy to have gleaned knowledge from our mothers, grandmothers and friends, and we’re purposefully sending out the secrets.

But in sharing with an extended network of food growers, chefs and producers, our joy and knowledge is multiplied more than we ever could have imagined.

Picking spring asparagus

Learning from Mama Gina how to make rhubarb sauce









Our connections as people are within the food we eat, and the way we feed our bodies creates our lives.  So, as we at Caramelize Life share of heritage, food, family and community, we invite you to feel the joy.

Here’s to growing bountifully, cooking beautifully and making life sweeter together!

Love from our kitchen to yours!  Georgina @ Caramelize Life

Garden Love: Kids & Carrot Soup

Kids love to garden ~ as long as we elders help that love along:)

How can we as parents hook kids on growing their own food for life?

The main ingredient for kids of any age ~ FUN!

This spring, my daughter was given a single bean to plant inside.  She named the beloved bean–ready for this–“Beanie,” much to our great shock.  She labeled Beanie, watered her and put her in a sunny window.  She invested much in Beanie, singing to her, fanning her, telling her stories.  Now Beanie is about 5 inches tall and needed a home, so a bean teepee was built for Beanie (methods below).  Now, one of her favorite places to be is camped out, making “salad” in the bean teepee.

It’s in this–determining what is really fun for your child–that hooks them on gardening.  Here are some other ideas.

Grow What They Eat

The first vegetable my daughter wanted to eat out of the garden was a sweet pea.  Imagine that.  A sweet pea wanting to eat something as sweet as she!

She proclaimed “these pea pods are just little sacks of sugar!”

She told all her friends in case they hadn’t discovered that definition:)

The first veggie my son loved was the carrot.  We looked up different carrot varieties and he got attached to the type called “short and sweet.”  From 4 years old to the present, he is in charge of the carrot patch:)

Carrots! Easy to grow with children, wonderfully sweet to eat fresh.

Read for Inspiration

Books about families gardening self sufficiently are wonderful introductions as well.  My all time favorite is Oxcart Man.  It teaches about the cycle of the seasons and all the family does to make their own food all year.  Here is how the beautiful tale begins:

Ox-Cart Man, a beautiful description of self-sufficient living in poetry.

“In October he backed his ox into his cart

and he and his family filled it up

with everything they made or grew all year long

that was left over.”

Another great one for kids is Carrot Soup.  Not only is it a hilarious, creative story of a carrot obsessed bunny and his collective of gardener friends, it has a good carrot soup recipe for you and kids to try at the end.

A bean teepee for Beanie:)

Make a Space that Kids Love

If you set aside a corner or two for your little ones, they will love taking ownership of it.  Even a 1 x 3 ” plot is enough for a child to grow food they’ll eat through the summer.

Give them a choice of seeds, and help them decide by thinking about what they like to eat.  Consider an edible flower to enhance the experience ~ my kids are fascinated by any pretty flower to safely consume.

Consider a bean pole teepee.  It sets apart a space that can be just for kids.  They will learn to be careful of planted beds and delicate seedlings, and know that they have a sanctuary where they can also creatively play.  After all, encouraging kids to love the garden through work is not going to be the most effective ~ that comes later!

Include play space in the garden and your kids will join you:)

A bean teepee can be anything you like, but we like to use skinny lodgepole downed in the forest.  Dried river wood offers some wonderful shapes.  The teepee itself can be a work of art in your garden.

One thing I did this year that I will now do every year is to save and dry our sunflower stalks for the following year.  Those long fibrous stocks dry to rock solid by spring.  I leaned them against the garden fence so they wouldn’t rot and let them stand all winter.  In spring they were hard as can be and I cut them to make a criss-cross trellis around the teepee.  (Beans need stalks smaller than lodgepole to climb:)

We planted three varieties of beans and my daughter took up immediate residence in the teepee.  She even asked to sleep there.

Pick the Fruits of Your Labor ~ Together

No matter what, involve your kids in the harvest!  The satisfaction of eating off the vine or picking the fruits of your labor is tough to beat.

Encourage the chillins to set up a little veggie stand if your family has extra, and show them the value of home grown food–for belly and pocketbook.  Rachelle has a great post about involving kids in local farmer’s markets, FIND YOUR MARKET.

I’ve found that the single most powerful way to encourage your kids to love to garden is simple: eat what you love, and grow what you eat!

Carrot Soup

At many farmer’s markets across the country you will find carrots ~ possibly the most kid friendly veggie.

Known to granola crunching vegetarians everywhere, The Moosewood Cookbook (1977 edition by Molly Katzen) is a fabulous addition to any chef’s library.  The carrot soup here is a modification from the Moosewood.

2 lbs peeled or scrubbed, chopped carrots
4 c stock
1 1/2 t salt
1 medium potato, chopped (optional)
4 T butter
1 c chopped onion

Moosewood Cookbook

2 cloves crushed garlic
1/3 c toasted nuts (pumpkin seeds, cashews or almonds)

1/2 pint heavy cream, or 3/4 c sour cream or plain yogurt

Season with:
~ 2 pinches of nutmeg, a dash of cinnamon and 1 t grated ginger.

1.  Place carrots, stock, salt and potato in a medium sized soup pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer it for 12-15 minutes. Let it cool to room temp.

2.  Saute the onion and garlic in the butter until the onions are clear. You can sprinkle in a little salt to help draw the moisture out of the onions. Towards the end of cooking, stir in the seasoning combo you choose.

3.  Puree everything together in a food processor or blender until smooth.

4.  Whisk in cream or yogurt just before serving.

5.  Garnish with toasted seeds, nuts or toasted croutons and serve.

Happy Gardening from Georgina @ Caramelize Life

Find more carrot soup recipes on

Read more:

The Barb is On

Rhubarb: how we love thee.  You are full of the zing of spring, yet you are humble and hearty.

And how underestimated you have been in years past!

From early childhood, my mother always made rhubarb sauce (recipe herein), pie, crisps, cobblers and froze whatever was left over for winter delights.

Farmer’s Markets right now have an abundance of Rhubarb, and likely your neighbor does too.  Our last article, Find Your Market has links to markets across the country and rhubarb is one of the most common items sold at this time.

Harvesting rhubarb is easy for kids ~ and produces tasty treats they love

I’ve often heard folks describe rhubarb as a weed or make comments like, ‘what would I do with it?’ To which I respond, ‘I’d be happy to take that off your hands so it’s not in your way.’ I’ll never say no to free barb.

Rhubarb sauce over yogurt was a staple growing up as it is in our home now. We regularly harvest, beginning now, and make sauces for breakfast dishes, lunches and snacks. If the seed stalk is kept cut back, and you trim your barb as it ripens, you can keep a plant producing all summer long.

Bring on the barb!

Kid Friendly Harvest & Recipe

This week, my son Phoenix worked the entire process, garden to table.

He harvested the rhubarb, washed it, cut it and cooked the sauce, all himself.  (Well, I did the taste testing for sugar ratio, otherwise it would have come out heavy on the sweets:).

This is a wonderful recipe to use as a tool to get your kids into gardening and cooking.  The resulting food is something kids love ~ a sweet and tangy sauce that goes well over yogurt, ice cream or, my favorite, breakfast waffles and pancakes.

Rhubarb Sauce

Fresh Rhubarb



~ Chop washed rhubarb into 1 inch chunks and fill a quart sauce pot.  Add enough water to cover the bottom with at least 2 inches.

~ Bring to a simmer on medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  Once the fruit starts to break down, reduce heat to medium-low.

~ Add sugar and continue stirring; once the sauce is simmering again, turn to low.  You may add your sugar to taste, but for a quart pot full of fruit, I generally use about 5 cups sugar.

~ Eat fresh on yogurt, waffles, over ice cream, or jar in Masons and freeze.

Guest Food Blogger Recipe:

Check out a delicious way to use fresh rhubarb in a fruit crisp ~ fellow foodie, Mary Miller shared this great recipe for Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp.  We recommend giving it a try:)

Mary shares good food on her blog, A Passionate Plate.  

NOTES on Rhubarb

Breakfast Treat: waffles, yogurt and sweet rhubarb sauce.

~For planting, try finding an existing plant to cut from.  The root of the barb is like one solid mass.  You can cut right through it to divide the plant.  Don’t worry about damage–this root is hard to kill.  It will grow almost anywhere.

~Water Rhubarb liberally.  I made the mistake years ago of thinking the wild plant on the side of the house didn’t need tending.  Not so–the barb takes a lot of water in spring and through the summer if you want to harvest repeatedly.

~ Save it for later!  If you don’t want to make sauce out of all your barb, wash it, cut it in one inch chunks and bag in the freezer.  It is just as good taken out months later for pies, sauce, chutney or crisps.

~ In the Methow Valley, purchasing rhubarb plants is possible at the Local 98856.  They also have great advice on the plant and others.

Love from Our Kitchen to Yours!  Georgina @ Caramelize Life

Fresh Fish & Zesty Salsa Warm up Winter Nights…

Perch Tacos with Salsa Verde

This taco recipe is a simple, full proof meal that can be easily modified to your liking.  Combining the sweet tang of tomatillos (even easier to grow than tomatoes) and the smokiness of jalapenos hits a perfect balance.  Paired with the light fresh texture of winter white fish, we see it pleases almost any palate.

“Son!” is the constant refrain heard from inside the Ice Shanty throughout the winter.  That’s short for “it’s on!”-a phrase we learned quickly when perch and trout fishing out on the ice with family and friends.  Once the state fish and wildlife department announces the ice is thick enough and safe, the shanty is skied out to live on Lake Paterson until the spring thaw.  (It is converted into “deer camp” in the fall.)

And through the winter, patiently braving the cold is rewarded with buckets of fresh, flaky perch, delicate trout and delectable Kokanee (lake dwelling sockeye salmon).

Since the fish and water are so cold in the dead of winter, there is never a trace of “fishy” flavor in these perch.  They may be smallish, even tiny, but are so fresh and prolific that it is completely worth the effort.  Being small fish, they are perfect for tacos, chowders or an easy fish and chips.

Ice fishing is fun and productive.  It is a wonderful first fishing experience for children because they can easily bait their own hook, catch their fish and keep going at it, all by themselves.

The first time that Phoenix  age 6, went ice fishing, he was so ecstatic that he plunged his hands into the icy water, refusing gloves, bringing up one fish after another off his line.  (That’s not to suggest you catch the perch with your hands, he was just very enthused.)

Paired with the Salsa Verde below this recipe is packed with flavor.

1 lb Perch or other white fish such as halibut or snapper
t 1.c bread crumbs
1 large organic egg or 2 small
1 c. Jalapeño Salsa Verde
1-3 T. Olive oil
8 tortillas
1 c. shredded purple cabbage
½ c. Mexican crema or creme fraiche
½  c. additional Jalapeño Salsa Verde or Tomato Salsa
1 c. chopped fresh cilantro
½ c. green onions
Lime wedges for serving

The fish works well breaded and fried, or quickly broiled.  For frying, mix your eggs, briefly soak the fish fillets, then bread.  In a heavy sauté pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Arrange the fish on the pan and cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn over and cook until the fish is opaque throughout, about 1-2 more minutes more. Timing depends on the thickness of your fish.  Rather than time it exactly, take your cue from the fish.
To assemble each taco, place 1/8 of the fish in the center of the tortilla and top with 2 T. cabbage, 1-2 T. crema, 1-2 T. salsa, then garnish with 1 T. cilantro and 1 T. green onions.  Wrap and bake briefly or sauté in a heavy skillet.  Serve the tacos with lime wedges, sour cream or topping of choice.

Jalapeño—Tomatillo Salsa

2 Pint Yield

This salsa recipe is one of our favorites.  It combines the exotic sweetness of tomatillos with the smoky zest of jalapeños.  Without being big and chunky in texture, it is much thicker than similar tomato salsas.  Go liberal on garlic and cilantro to taste, as the salsa benefits from each.  And feel free to change up the ratios to your liking–with this recipe it is fun to get creative.

We’ve been whittling down this salsa for years and one thing is for sure: amount does not equate to quality.  Even the smallest batch of this salsa goes a long way, both because of its flavor and thickness.  It’s definitely spiced up our winter nights:)  Enjoy!

5 1/2 c. husked and chopped Tomatillos
1 c. chopped Jalapenos, fresh or roasted
1 c. chopped onion
6 cloves minced garlic
1/2 t. salt
2-3 T. freshly ground cumin
1/2 c. cider vinegar

up to 1/2 c. other pepper variety to taste such as green chills or cayennes (optional)

1/4 c. lime juice

1/2 c. cilantro

Chop tomatillos, peppers, onion and garlic separately by hand or food processor.  Combine all ingredients except cilantro and lime juice in a sauce pan over medium high heat.  Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for at least 5 minutes.  Add lime juice and cilantro for last 2 minutes of cooking.  Ladle hot salsa into jars.  Can in water bath or pressure cooker, or enjoy fresh.

recipe Serves 4

Note: We usually make a double or triple batch of this salsa.  It is just as good preserved by canning or freezing. 


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