Saturday, October 1, 2011

Time Saving

My plan was to have this blog out earlier. Obviously my plan fell through. Though appropriate considering this blog is well....about not having enough time. Whether now or next year, I hope you find the tips useful as you manage your own busy life.

I hate to admit it, but I don't have the time or inclination to can and freeze food like I used to. I used to spend hours canning almost anything at anytime (ask my husband about the midnight tomato canning fest). I couldn't resist bottling up summer and saving it for a snowy day. My approach and attitude have changed as years have passed. This does not mean I don't can and freeze food anymore. It just means my priorities and tactics have been refined.

If you are like most families I know, you are very busy. Many feel they can't fit in freezing and canning food into their schedule. I hope to alleviate some of the stress that comes from wanting to preserve food but not having the time. Below are a list of ways I “cheat” when it comes to canning and freezing. I call it cheating because it differs from how I used to do it. I used to not use time-saving gadgets and would hand chop and grind everything. I used to can more than freeze and spend much time inside by the stove. Not anymore. I love to have the home processed food and I love to cook. However, I don't love spending our short summers in my kitchen. After all this time, I think I have figured out how to make it all work.

Now, I rarely endorse products. However, there are two items I would list as incredible time saving tools. They are a deep freezer (either upright or chest) and a Vitamix. What is a Vitamix anyway? A Vitamix is a high powered blending machine. They are expensive. If the time comes for a generous soul to ask you what you want for Christmas this year, ask for one. If a Vitamix is not in your future, you can do some of the tasks in a regular food processor. If you are a chef of any sorts, you will also appreciate one of these machines. You can make tahini, hummus, peanut butter, and a host of other items quickly.

In my idealistic mind, I love the thought of hand processing all my fruits and vegetables with a few close friends. However, in the real world and for most people....it just isn't always possible. For much of us, time is taken up by children's activities, family responsibilities, professions and the like. Yet, it is possible for the modern family to store fresh local food with minimal effort. You will be able to refine your approach as time goes on to give you the food your family needs.

Ways to save time on food preservation (or “cheat” as I call it!):

1. Sit down with a notebook. Make a list of produce you will use most in the winter. Many times people can or freeze their abundance of vegetables only for the produce to still be in the freezer a year later. Think hard about what you actually will use. I realize this can be a challenge, but you do learn you won't actually use the 50 bags of zucchini you froze over the summer. Once you decide what you will need, decide if you will can or freeze the item. Many of the items you do use can be frozen. Freezing is a much faster process than canning. Freezing and canning produce different textures, so you will need to sort out which one is right for you. Over the years, I have fine tuned my list so that by spring, my freezer is about empty save for frozen meat. Don't spend time preserving if you won't use it.

2. A freezer is critical. Try to freeze items first as not only is it less time consuming, it helps preserve some of the nutrients. Heat destroys nutrients and so you will lose some as you preserve foods through canning. Here is a great easy to read guide about freezing some of the more common vegetables, http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_e/e-320.pdf. I prefer an upright freezer over a chest freezer, but you can decide what might work for you. Some families share a freezer, so that might be a viable option for you with less expense.

3. I don't remove skins anymore when it comes to applesauce and tomatoes. Removing skin can be time consuming and also removes valuable nutrients. If you own a crock-pot or high powered blender, you can finely chop the produce and blend up the skin so it is not noticeable. I even leave skins on when freezing apples.

4. I have processed many apples in record time by doing two things. First, I make crock-pot applesauce. I chop apples (do not remove skins), throw them in the crock pot with a bit of water and eight hours later, I have applesauce. Then I freeze it. I do not can applesauce anymore. I shudder to think of my old way which consisted of: cooking apples, pushing apples through my hand grinder to remove skins, re-heating, and then canning. I just don't have that kind of time anymore. Another super quick process for apples is to chop apples in slices, place in a freezer bag and into the freezer. In the winter, I use them for crisps and pies. I also simmer them with a bit of cinnamon for a wonderful oatmeal topping.

5. Think about your technique. I used to take the top off strawberries and slice them all before freezing. Then I realized I was just dumping the bag into the blender for smoothies or cooking them down for pancake sauce – so why was I spending all this time chopping? Not necessary! I now top the strawberries, throw them into a container or bag, and done. I also met someone this summer who takes the tops off the strawberries in the field before weighing and paying (like at a U-pick farm). Wow...smart if you have the time while you are out picking. She told me she saves a few pounds in the cost of berries and the tops are already done when she gets home. All she needs to do once home is rinse the berries and throw into containers and into the freezer.

6. This summer, I had 40lbs of peaches to deal with. My daughters love canned peaches for eating out of the jar. But....is it necessary for smoothie peaches to be canned? No! I canned 20lbs of the peaches and froze the other 20lbs for cobblers and smoothies. You don't have to decide between freezing and canning, but can use each together to maximize time and taste.

7. I could kiss my Vitamix when it comes to processing tomatoes. I used to spend time taking the skins off, cooking down and then canning. Now I wash tomatoes, cut the end off, chop in half and throw them into the machine. I blend them all into a chunky puree, skins and all. Frozen tomatoes with skins gives my family the highest nutrient value possible. I pour the puree into a freezer bag or container and viola! I have 50lbs of tomatoes frozen in no time. I primarily use my frozen tomatoes for soups, chili and the like. The skins are not noticeable.

8. If you use many jars of salsa and have the opportunity to can it (it isn't good frozen), by all means do it to save costs (good salsa can be expensive). I used to can salsa, but realized....we just don't eat that much and so right now, it isn't worth my time. I would rather store the onions, oil pack the peppers and freeze the tomatoes and sweet peppers for use in other recipes (all of these ingredients are in salsa, but storing this way requires less time than actually making and canning salsa). It makes more sense for me to spend a bit on the occasional jar of salsa than to spend time making and canning it. It is okay to let go of some things! Plus, it is possible to find wonderful locally made salsas and the entrepreneurs always need business. You can do this type of time/cost analysis for any item.

9. Give items away you don't need! Here is a prime example. I used to make a whole bunch of pesto because I had so much basil. However, I didn't use it all (I froze it) and then it went to waste. Talk about expensive waste (pesto contains nuts, cheese, olive oil – expensive ingredients)! Now, I freeze exactly what I think we will use and give the rest of the basil to friends. Believe me, they will appreciate it. Just because you grow it, doesn't mean you have to preserve it. Give it to the food pantry, neighbors and others if you won't use it.

10. My family can't have much sugar, so I don't make much jam. Again, tailor your food preservation to what you have, what you will use, what might save you money, and what your family enjoys. It is more important for my family to have the 40lbs of strawberries frozen, not made into jam. I'd rather support a local entrepreneur with my occasional purchase of jam than turn my berries into something my family can't eat much of.

11. Use your time in the kitchen efficiently. Maybe you have a CSA and not a garden and you have only a little produce here and there to freeze. Do it while you are making dinner. I mean, you are in the kitchen anyway, so make good use of your time. Many times I will only have 3-4 heads of broccoli or cauliflower to freeze. While my soup is simmering, I'll take to washing, blanching, and packaging it up. When dinner is cleaned up, I am all done! I might miss reading the newspaper article I would have read while the soup is simmering – but at least my kitchen work is done.


My neighbor tells me her sons preserve food, but not her grandchildren and this makes me sad. It is a good skill to know and can save a money family. I saw the other day that a small jar of pickled beets is $1.79. Not only do you not know anything about where the beets were grown, but I know I can preserve many more beets than that for $1.79. My weak spot of food preservation is dehydration and I would love to know if someone finds this a time saving technique.

Remember also to put your family to work! Even small children can wash apples and tomatoes. My girls and I had quite the chain of production this year from washing to chopping and bagging. I have sat my mother down on our nice porch and put her to work pitting cherries and peaches and other time consuming chores. The I "paid" her with a pint of cherries or a bag of strawberries.

Happy preserving! As for the next blog, I have a big trip coming up so I won't be writing for awhile. I won't give anything away, but this trip is sure to include a culinary adventure of a lifetime. I'll let you know how it goes when I get back.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Commitment to Place



When my husband and I planted fruit trees in our orchard many years ago, we were making a commitment to a place. Planting the trees signaled a new life stage. It takes a tree many years to produce fruit and I knew then I'd be here for awhile. If you plan to move after a few years, you might plant herbs or maybe even a full garden. But fruit trees? Fruit trees get planted when a person plans on settling down.

Recently, I returned from being away for two weeks. I mowed the orchard soon after I returned. It was then I realized all but the two youngest trees now have fruit. The pear and apple branches all bow from the weight of the fruit. My commitment to place finally paid off. This fall will be delicious with pear/apple crisps, baked apples, fresh pears, and applesauce.

Many people have made a similar commitment to this place. By place, I mean the geographical term referring to both the human and physical characteristics that exist. Food, faith, industry, folklore, rivers, streams, mountains and fields are all examples of human and physical characteristics. This commitment has been a benefit to the local food scene over the years. When I first moved here, I don't remember any farms offering a CSA, you couldn't buy meat or eggs at the farmers' market, there were no restaurants specializing in local food, and I surely don't remember church and school gardens. Now all exist.

So enjoy it all! August and September are the best months to enjoy the abundance coming out of farms and gardens. This time of year markets explode with produce, meat, honey, and others. Your garden may be bursting at the seams with tomatoes, zucchini, onions, basil and others. There are recipes I only make this time of year as they are best when made with the freshest ingredients. Below you will find a few....Enjoy....



Zucchini and Basil Salad
Thanks Jean!

3-4 medium summer squash, julienned
2-3T fresh basil, chopped
3-4T Parmesean cheese, grated
Toss together.

¼ C red wine vinegar
½ C olive oil
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. sugar
2 garlic cloves (or more if you like a lot of garlic), minced
Combine and pour over salad. Mix, chill one hour and serve. Best eaten the same day.

Gazpacho
4 fl.oz olive oil
2 fl.oz red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T. salt
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. Tabasco sauce
4 large ripe tomatoes, sliced
2lbs fresh tomatoes or canned plum tomatoes
1 green bell pepper, sliced
2 small or 1 large cucumber, sliced
½ onion, sliced

garnish: croutons or hard-boiled eggs

Combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, cumin, and Tabasco in a food processor with ½ the vegetables listed and puree. Transfer soup mixture to a bowl and puree the remaining vegetables and add to soup. Refrigerate until very cool or overnight.

Greek Stew

1 tsp. olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped onions
1 T. minced garlic
2 tsp. fresh oregano
1 tsp. salt
2 cups chopped tomatoes
4 cups peeled and cubed potatoes (about 2lbs)
1lb. green beans, stems removed (about 4 cups)
¼ cup fresh parsley
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
juice of two lemons
ground black pepper to taste

Heat the oil and stir in the onions and garlic, cover and saute on low heat for 10 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add oregano, salt, tomatoes, potatoes, and beans. Cover the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes and beans are tender.
Just before serving, stir in the parsley, lemon juice and pepper. Sprinkle feta on top.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wasted Food, Part 2

Currently I am reading the book The Faith Club, A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew-Three Women Search for Understanding by R. Idliby, S. Oliver and P. Warner (2006). In one chapter, Ranya, a Muslim woman, lists a few Islamic traditions. She goes on to describe one of them: “I am reluctant to throw out leftover bread without kissing it and asking for God's forgiveness, a custom reminding Muslims that many people in our world remain hungry”. We don't always realize how many people are hungry around the world and in our neighborhoods. We NEED daily reminders. In both ethical and financial terms, we cannot afford to waste food. In my previous blog, I gave numbers and facts on hunger and food waste. If you did not read the last blog, I encourage you to do so before continuing on here.

Three low-cost approaches are given in the article I mentioned from The Worldwatch Institute ( Reducing Food Waste: Making the Most of our Abundace, 2011). Those are: getting surpluses to those who need it, raising consumer awareness and reducing waste to landfills, and improving storage and processing for small-scale farmers in developing countries. Let's look at each one.

We cannot deny the existence of domestic poverty. Many children need to go to school in order to eat, families skip meals or give up other needed supplies in order to eat. Yet, we throw away an amazing amount of food. Some options for getting surpluses to those in need include: donating to food pantries and food banks and collecting from universities, grocers, businesses and restaurants to then deliver it to food programs. Some of this is already happening here. Churches with gardens are donating to food programs, Campus Kitchen (the free dinner on Monday night in Canton) utilizes excess food from the SLU dining halls, and some farmers are giving to food pantries and free weekly meals. I would love to see more of this connecting. What about retail food businesses and restaurants? What about the excess produce farmers may have after a farmers' market?

The second approach involves raising consumer awareness and reducing landfill waste. Raising consumer awareness is usually an uphill battle, yet after the battle is over what was once fought against becomes routine. Recycling is a great example. In terms of food waste, we are just beginning to raise awareness. In 2010, San Francisco became the first city to pass legislation requiring all households to separate recycling and compost from garbage. A class at Canton's elementary school did a study on how much of the garbage is food waste and are now making recommendations to the superintendent on how to separate food out for composting. To learn more about how to reduce waste and tips for leftovers, visit www.lovefoodhatewaste.com.

Developing countries do not have expensive, western-style grain storage and processing facilities. This leads to a tremendous amount of food waste. In Pakistan, the United Nations helped 9 percent of farmers cut their storage losses up to 70 percent by replacing jute bags and mud constructions with metal grain storage containers (WorldWatch Institute, 2011). During my international travel, I haven't seen daily food waste as in the USA. When I was in Rwanda, my daughter didn't finish her meal one night. The Rwandan girls were shocked and asked for her plate to then divide the remainders amongst themselves. They just don't waste food like we do. In the United States, the food is wasted after production and shipping. It has made it to tables and stores, but for many reasons is still discarded. In developing countries, the reverse is true. The food is wasted prior to being sent for consumption due to adequate storage systems. Many sources tell us we will need to double food production in the next half-century, wasting food will just not be an option.

If you have any connections around the community to grocers, restaurants, universities, and farmers, please encourage them to donate their excess food. Living in a community means caring for and about one another. I firmly believe what happens to our local, domestic, and international neighbors eventually affects us all.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wasted Food

         My daughters and I went strawberry picking the other day. A yearly event for us, my daughters eagerly agree to go and help out. They are at the age now where they are old enough to really help out. We usually pick between 45-50lbs each year. Most of the berries are for freezing, but we also make a large batch of jam. The added bonus this year was my visiting mother who I quickly put to work chopping up berries. With all this help, it wasn't long before I could admire the quart bags full of berries and the many jars of jam adorning my kitchen counter.

         I went picking twice and on the second time, I was saddened to see so many rotting berries. Berries from this farm go to U-pickers and the farm stand, yet there were still so many berries waiting to be picked. Is it that people don't have the time or energy to go pick? Was it a bumper crop this year? All I know is there were way too many unpicked berries. Berries that could have been put to a good use (eating, of course).

        I have been making an even stronger effort not to waste food. My compost bowl is pretty full every day, but that is more from cooking with fresh food than anything else. Berry tops, kale stems and pea pods fill the bowl this time of year. I realize we all have leftovers that get shoved to the back of the fridge and ultimately end up in the compost, but nationwide, our waste of food is despicable.

        I just came across an article The Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet project titled "Reducing Food Waste: Making the Most of our Abundace". According to the article and new statistics from the United Nations, roughly 1/3 (!) of the food produced worldwide for human consumption is lost or wasted. 1/3! That is unreal and hard to believe. What adds an extra punch is in industrialized countries, more than 40% of losses happen due to retailers and customers discarding unwanted but often perfectly edible food. Shouldn't that be a crime?

        We have 1 BILLION people chronically hungry and we are throwing away food because it doesn't look nice? We have families struggling to make ends meet in our own county and food is getting thrown away because it isn't pretty? In developing countries (due to storage, transportation and processing issues), 150 million tons of grains are lost each year. This is six times the amount needed to meet the needs of all the hungry people in the developing world (Worldwatch Institute, 2011). According to this, we currently have the food to feed all 6.7 billion of us. Yet much of this food is ending in landfills and dumpsters and in a place like India, as manure.

         The article also says technology (in industrialized nations) for the prevention of food from spoilage- such as climate-controlled units, drying equipment, transport infrastructure and others -has contributed to fostering our culture in which high levels of food waste is accepted. I do believe it is not only accepted, but encouraged. Our state laws, policies of restuarants and grocers and the search for the perfect apple or tomato lead us into a daily squandering of good food.

The article goes on to state three low cost approaches for addressing this issue. I'll discuss those in the next blog.






Sunday, June 12, 2011

Top Ten Reasons by Naomi Crowell

Yesterday, my mom and I drove out to a farmstand near Potsdam. My mom and I looked at all the local vegetables, baked goods, honey, maple syrup, jam and more. All of it looked very yummy! I was feeling so excited and I wanted to look at the cookies first. However, my mom wouldn't let me look at them until after we looked at the vegetables. We decided to buy tomatoes, asparagus, cucumbers and lettuce. My mom tells me she thinks they grow the tomatoes and cucumbers indoors to have them so early.

After picking out the vegetables, we picked out oatmeal-raisin cookies (we didn't buy the chocolate chip) and a loaf of homemade bread. We gave all the things to the cashier. Then we went to look at other stuff like handmade bonnets, jam, honey and soap. My mom also was excited to see that they also now sell chicken and beef. For today, we settled on eggs instead. We weren't going straight home and didn't have a cooler.
Naomi and the tomato she picked out


After we paid and got back into the car, we ate a cookie and it was delicious! It was all so exciting! Here are my top ten reasons why I think you should visit a farm stand.

1.It isn't very crowded.
2.The stuff is all local.
3.You can get a parking space.
4.It is usually sheltered from the rain.
5.Some farm stands have other stuff besides food like handsewn bonnets.
6.They are open early and close late.
7.There are many choices of items and each month will be different.
8.If you don't have time for the grocery store, just go to a farmstand.....they are fast!
9.It is very fun!
10.If you are shy, you don't have to talk to a lot of people.

My mom stops at many farm stands all summer and sometimes we get berries, like strawberries and blueberries. Sometimes we get raspberries. Sometimes what we buy doesn't even make it home because we eat them all in the car. That happens with berries and cookies. I hope you can get to a farmstand soon!

Slow Food

I love my new 1-cup Italian stove top coffee maker. Yes, I may have to make several cups to satisfy my coffee desires, but it is an enjoyable process and I don't mind. When the coffee is done, I enjoy it slowly, thinking on the complex flavors of the coffee, milk and the frothy foam on top. It is a nice way to start the day.

I have been thinking about the “process” of making and enjoying food. Jump started by my trip to Italy, I am dedicated more than ever to enjoy the process of my cooking and not just the product. Handmade foods, wine, and olive oil were abundant in Italy and can not be missed by even the casual observer. One of the best dishes I had was a simple homemade pasta dish with fresh ingredients. Not complicated, but made with fine ingredients carefully chosen for their best flavor. The dish was homemade pasta with fresh olive oil, garlic and basil. Parmesean was there for sprinkling if desired. I am sure the process of making this dish was simple, yet produced a delicious end meal. For any meal the process starts with thinking about what is available fresh and local, then to choose the freshest ingredients you can find (preferably direct from the farm/farmer) and onward to taking the time to make the dish and to chopping and enjoying the aromas of oil, herbs and vegetables. Enjoying “slow food” doesn't have to be prolonged, complicated or out of your reach......even making small changes can help build a more solid connection to your meals.
Vegetable Stand in Florence


Italy is home to the Slow Food movement, which according to their website is now “ a global, grassroots organization with supporters in 150 countries around the world who are linking the pleasure of good food with a commitment to their community and the environment”. “Slow Food was founded in 1989 to counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.” The Slow Food movement urges us to enjoy quality food in an environment that is not rushed.

I realize we all live very busy lives, yet I believe we can incorporate some aspect of Slow Food into our day. My coffee maker is one example. I choose fine ingredients, relax as I assemble the pieces and slowly enjoy the product. It wasn't a big change. The Slow Food movement gives us other ideas for bringing a relaxed pace of food into our lives such as such as direct contact between consumers and producers through farmers' markets and CSAs and shopping at stores who stock local produce ( ask the retailer about the food the sell to learn about origin, production techniques, etc...). I would also add stopping by roadside farm stands, asking neighbors for the extra rhubarb, enjoying recipes based on locally available foods and savoring the meal when you sit down to eat.


With thoughts of Italy and slow food in my mind I leave you with two things. The websites for you to get more information www.slowfood.com and http://www.slowfoodusa.org/ . The other is an asparagus risotto recipe. This was one of the other most wonderful dishes I had in Italy and it now coincides with the asparagus harvest taking place now. Enjoy!

Asparagus Risotto – Risotto agli Asparagi
Recipe by Kyle Phillips
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound asparagus
½ small onion, finely sliced
1 ½ cups short-grained rice along the lines of Arborio
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons butter or ¼ cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup dry white wine, warmed
1 cup grated Parmigiano
The water the asparagus was cooked in, topped off with beef broth or veggie bouillon to make 1 quart, simmering
Salt and white pepper

Clean and boil the asparagus for a few minutes or until a fork easily penetrates the tip of a spear. Use tongs to remove the asparagus from the water. Trim the tips from the stalks and set them aside. Cut the remaining green part of the stalks into one-inch lengths and set them aside too. Return the white ends of the stalks to the pot, along with the broth or bouillon.
Saute the onion in ½ the butter or the oil and when translucent, remove it to a plate with a slotted spoon. Next, stir in the rice and saute, stirring, until the grains have turned translucent, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the warmed wine and cook until evaporated. Then add the one-inch lengths of green asparagus stem to the rice, and begin stirring in the liquid, a full ladle at a time. Continue adding liquid and when the rice is almost done, stir in half the reserved tips. Check seasoning and continue cooking the rice until it is al dente. Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining butter and half the grated cheese. Let the risotto stand covered for two minutes, then transfer it to a serving dish and garnish with remaining tips. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese over it and serve.
**there was also a note you can puree asparagus before mixing it in to the risotto.**

The Sweet and Sour

January's blog included a monthly list of suggestions for increasing local food into your diet. Included are buying local eggs in January, trying to purchase a chest freezer in February, visiting a sugar shack in March, and joining a CSA in April. Here we are already in May and it is time to eat wild leeks, rhubarb and other early foods. So....how are you doing so far? If you have made progress or want to share exciting “local food” news, don't hesitate to comment here.

It is the last day of April, but my rhubarb will be ready very soon! I am excited it has grown so quickly even through the dreary days. I leave for a ten-day trip on Monday, so my plan is to use the tallest stalks for a dessert this weekend. I can't wait any longer. I am going to make the Chocolate Chip-Rhubarb Cake (see recipe below). When I return, I will make the Curried Lentils with Rhubarb and Potatoes. Rhubarb adds an interesting zest to dishes that are not desserts/sweets. If you do decide to make a dessert with the rhubarb, try adding almond or orange extract to cut out some of the sugar. Freezing rhubarb is easy too. Just wash the stalks and chop in pieces and place in a freezer bag. That is it.

Along with wild leeks and maple syrup, rhubarb is a true north country food. The oldest farms have hidden patches in places you wouldn't think of. I have found at least two other patches (that we didn't plant) around our farm hidden amongst rocks and shrubs. Most north country locals have a story of their grandmother eating rhubarb with salt or sugar. Rhubarb is wonderful (once you give it a chance) and to keep it growing all you have to do is....well....nothing. It is a perennial and cares for itself. The only care I do give is I chop the large leaves (poisonous) off right in the patch and leave them on the ground for weed control. If you live in town and want a bit of country life along with the experience of growing your own food, try rhubarb. It is perfect for landscaping on the side of the house or along a fence.

In June it will be strawberry season. One thing to think on is to freeze extra berries so they last from season to season. I still have some in my freezer - which is great this time of year as I now can easily make a strawberry-rhubarb pie. If I had to go buy strawberries from California to go with my local fresh rhubarb, I probably wouldn't make the pie. A little planning, a big freezer and your excitement over regional food goes a long way.

Chocolate Chip Rhubarb Cake

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup butter

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. almond or orange extract

2 cups flour (your choice of flour)

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 ¾ cup chopped rhubarb

½ cup chocolate chips



Topping:

1 tsp. vanilla

½ cup chopped nuts

1 tsp. almond or orange extract (whatever you used above)

¼ cup chocolate chips (if you want more chocolate)

½ cup brown sugar

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and other extract. Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture, alternately with buttermilk, mixing with each addition. Stir in rhubarb and chocolate chips. Pour into greased 9 X 13 baking dish. Combine topping ingredients. Sprinkle over cake batter and bake at 350F for 45 minutes.



Curried Lentils with Rhubarb and Potatoes

1 cup dry orange or yellow lentils

1 very large sweet potato, peeled and sliced

1 tbsp. oil

1 cup rhubarb, diced

2 Tbsp. liquid sweetener – honey, maple syrup, sugar syrup

1 Tbsp. curry powder

1 tsp. ginger root, grated

1 tsp. red hot chili powder

salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup shredded coconut

Cover lentils with water in a deep pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and add raw sweet potato slices. Simmer until soft. Remove from heat, drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 400F. Heat oil in a skillet and once hot, add rhubarb. Reduce heat and cook until tender. Stir in sweetener and seasonings. Mix with drained cooked lentils and potatoes that have been mashed together with a fork. Pour into a oven-proof dish and bake until piping hot, about 20 minutes. Garnish with coconut. Serve with chutney and a bowl of brown rice.