July 16, 2008

Learning Curve



Here is everything tagged and ready to head over to enter into the county fair. Rhubarb quick bread, vegan chocolate shortbread cookies (for the heart healthy category), my African violet, and a last minute decision by DH to enter one of our baby bok choy. I just got back from the fair grounds and it's so much fun to see all the vegetables and flowers that people grow and bring in for the show. There is a LOT of competition among gardeners apparently!

And yes, the currant preserves are missing from the picture. Why? Well...instead of making preserves, I ended up making, uhh... more like ROAD TAR! Yep, totally failed kitchen experiment for me. It was like the Bermuda Triangle in my kitchen. One, I had never made a jelly or jam that didn't have pectin added, and when you use pectin it means that the cooking of the liquid is more of a timed event and not so much knowing when something has reached the gel stage, so I had no experience with this. Two, I misread my recipe, which said to cook the preserves until they were
ALMOST at the gel stage, not AT the gel stage, which means that I cooked the bejeepers out of the stuff waiting for it to reach the gel stage! Third side of the triangle of disaster -I thought it would be a nice touch to add some orange zest to the currant mixture, and yes it would have been nice if I had added it at the end maybe. But after the disaster happened, I read on the internet that citrus peel is high in pectin - NOT what the currant preserves needed! They had more than enough pectin already. So these are my guesses as to why it happened. Sorry about the currants Uncle J, but I do think that if I can figure out how to get the stuff back out of the jars, we can melt it down, add some more liquid, and make it into some really nice pancake syrup because it sure does taste great! Now you KNOW if you saw Orange Scented Currant Pancake Syrup on the shelf in someplace like Williams Sonoma or Stonewall Kitchen, you'd pay a pretty penny for it wouldn't you?!

The rest of the story, as Paul Harvey says, is that when I went to enter everything in the fair this morning, I ran into Aunt P and ended up visiting her at their house afterwards. I told her my shenanigans with the currants and she opened her freezer and offered me another whole bag of currants so I could try again. I am so blessed, remarkably so.

This is a picture of the rhubarb bread and here is the recipe. It is divine and even better if you can force yourself to save one back, wrap it up, and put it in the frig for a day or two.

Well, this is all then.

Rhubarb Cinnamon Bread

1 1/2 C brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 C whole wheat flour

1 C all-purpose flour

3/4 C chopped pecans

1 C milk, soured with 1 Tbs. vinegar

1 tsp baking soda

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/3 C oil

1/3 C applesauce

1 1/2 C finely chopped rhubarb, fresh or thawed frozen

Topping: 1 Tbs. melted butter, 1/2 C sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine brown sugar, salt, flours, and nuts in a large bowl. Add soda to soured milk. In a separate bowl, mix egg, vanilla, oil, and applesauce; add to dry ingredients alternately with milk. Fold in chopped rhubarb. Turn into two well-greased loaf pans.

Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle half on each loaf. Gently press topping into batter with back of spoon. Bake 45-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand for several minutes in pans before turning them out. Serve warm or cold.

Note - by substituting part whole wheat flour and replacing half the oil with applesauce, you increase the fiber, reduce the fat, and improve the nutritiousness of any quick bread!

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