Sunday, April 27, 2014

Rhubarb Raisin Pie... Oh My!!!

You may have noticed that I am not currently using my own photos.  My computer died and I am sharing our daughter's laptop.  I don't have a way set up to upload pictures from my camera, so I look for things online to illustrate what I've been making.  This picture shows what the filling looks like in the Rhubarb-Raisin Pie I made today.  I also added a top crust. This pie is delicious, nutritious and low in sweetener, which is amazing, if you know how very very sour Rhubarb is!

When I was a little girl, my mommie would give me a stalk of rhubarb and let me dip it in sugar and then take bites.  That was so much fun and such a nice memory.  I've always loved rhubarb.

Here is the recipe I came up with for the crust this time:  First of all, I ground some whole wheat berries (why do they call them berries??) on the "pastry" setting on my Wondermill.  If you do not mill your own flour, then I suggest you try to find some whole wheat pastry flour to use.  So... I ground the wheat and then sifted it to remove some of the coarser bran flakes.  

Pie Crust

2 cups of the flour described above
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cold butter
cold milk

In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  
Grate the cold butter, a little at a time, into the flour mixture and mix it in the flour with your hand.  Keep doing that until all the butter is grated.
Use a pastry cutter to work the butter in OR you can do it with your fingers.
Add a little cold milk at a time, and stir gently with a fork, after each addition.  You want the dough to hold together and be rather soft, but not soggy.  Keep adding a little milk until it is right for rolling out.
Using unbleached flour on your surface, dump out the dough, divide in half and gently form each half into a nice round thing.
Roll one out large enough to line your pie plate well, using plenty of flour to prevent sticking.
Add the pie filling (see recipe below) and roll out the second crust, cut a few vent holes and put it on top of the pie.  
You can either flute the edges or you can put a little water on the under crust edge before placing the top crust, then go around with a fork and crimp the edges together.
Carefully cut off any extra crust.
You might want to protect the crust edge for part of the baking with strips of foil so it doesn't get too brown.
Bake at 400 F for about 40 minutes - until the crust is browning and the filling is bubbly.
Allow to cool thoroughly before slicing.

Rhubarb Pie Filling (This recipe is from Whole Foods for the Whole Family by La Leche League)

9" pie crust, unbaked
4 cups rhubarb, chopped
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of salt
2 1/2 Tablespoons corn starch
1/3 cup honey

Combine all filling ingredients and fill crust.  Put top crust on and cut slits so steam can escape.  Bake at 400 F for 35 to 45 minutes.

I just love these springtime things that come along on the heels of winter.  I hope that you, Gentle Reader, are also having a comforting springtime if that is where you live.  And if you don't, I hope it comes soon!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Violet Jelly

Here where we live in Indiana, USA, the violets are blooming enthusiastically!  I love to make this simple and beautiful jelly at this time of year.  Here is the recipe:

Violet Jelly

Pick the blossoms from violets (be sure not to do it where chemicals have been applied.) You will need 2 cups of blossoms.  Just get the flower, not the stem, but don't worry about the little green part.  I like to tamp mine down, as the more blossoms I use, the more color the jelly has.

Pour your little violet blossoms out into a shallow pan and let it sit for half an hour in case there are any little critters in there that would like to escape.  After that, remember... they've had their chance.

Rinse the blossoms in cold water, drain, and place them in a quart jar.

Cover them with boiling water, put a lit on, and let them infuse for 24 hours.  The next day they'll look pathetic, but that's ok.

Strain out the blossoms and to two cups of the infusion, add the juice of one lemon (about 2 Tablespoons).  Notice how the color changes!

Add one box of powdered pectin.  Bring to a boil.

Add 4 cups of sugar and bring to a boil again.  Boil hard for 1 minute.

Pour into sterilized jelly jars and seal.  Turn them upside-down for a few minutes, then right-side up.

What does it taste like?  Sweet Violets of course!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lemon Marmalade!

Have you ever eaten Marmalade?  Have you even heard of marmalade?  It is a jam made from citrus fruits.  In 1972 I made my first batch.  It was orange marmalade.  If memory serves me, (?) I never made anymore until today.  Wow.

DH bought some lovely lemons for me because I was making violet jelly and needed some nice fresh lemon juice. (You may, of course, use bottled lemon juice...)  I had several extra lemons and don't want them to go bad waiting for me to use them, so I made Lemon Marmalade today.

Here is  the recipe:

Lemon Marmalade (5 half-pints)

Select smooth, unblemished lemons.  
Slice as thinly as possible.
Measure without draining.
To 1 quart of fruit, add 1.5 quarts of water.
Cover and let sit all night.
Cook slowly (lid on) until peel is tender. (approx. 2 hours)
Measure the un-drained fruit and add an equal amount of sugar.
Add 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Cook rapidly to the jelly stage (220 degrees F.)
Pour into sterilized 1/2 pint jars.  Wipe rims.  Apply sterilized caps.  Put on the rings snugly and turn the jars upside-down for a few minutes.  Then, turn them right side up.
Allow to cool 24 hours and then, if you wish, you  may remove the rings, but it's not necessary.
Store in a dark, cool place.

It has a nice bright sweet taste.  And it's pretty!
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