Rustic Rhubarb Tarts

Read more at our Auburn Meadow Farm blog

I have really been enjoying Liana Krissoff’s book Canning for a New Generation . It’s fresh, pretty and packed with great tips and ideas. It’s so homey and personable I feel like Liana and I are old friends, though we’ve never met.

One dilemma of pie-making is thickening the filling without turning it to gelatinous rubber.  This recipe has the perfect solution – macerating the fruit then reducing the juice.  It’s an inspiring technique I can’t wait to try on other fruits.

“This method… yields a filling of tender (but not at all mushy) fruit in a thick, tart syrup that’s deeply rhubarb-flavored because none of the juice is drained off – it’s simply cooked down and drizzled over the tarts after they come out of the oven.”

“Serve these with a drift of whisked sour cream or plain thin yogurt sweetened with a bit of honey or agave nectar.” Of course, that’s Liana talking.  Myself, I say go full fat with some rich vanilla ice cream, home made whipped cream or Devonshire Cream.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds frozen rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch slices (I used fresh and it worked fine)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 recipe Basic Pie Crust***
4 pats unsalted butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon coarse turbinado sugar

Put the rhubarb in a colander and run cold water over it for a minute or so, gently breaking apart the pieces.  Transfer to a large bowl and add the granulated sugar.  If using, split the vanilla bean,  scrape the seeds into the bowl, and nestle the pods in the rhubarb.  cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.  Remove the vanilla bean pods and set them aside for another use.  Turn the rhubarb mixture out into a colander set over a small saucepan and stir gently to drain as much of the liquid off as possible.  Return the rhubarb to a bowl and add the cinnamon, if using, the lemon juice and the flour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put the saucepan over high heat and boil until the syrup is reduced by half, 10 to 15 minutes.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll them out on a floured work surface 1/8 inch thick.  Cut an 8-inch round from each. Divide the rhubarb mixture among the rounds, piling it high in the center.  For each tart,  fold the edges of the dough up over the filling toward the center, pleating it four or five times around the circumference so that it covers all but about 2 inches of the filling in the center of the tart, and making sure that any tears in the dough are pinched closed.  Dot the exposed filling with butter, brush the edges of the dough with the milk and sprinkle all over with the turbinado sugar.

Transfer the tarts to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until well browned and bubbly.  Spoon some of the reduced syrup over the filling in each tart. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

*** Here I deviate – I have made these tarts using the recipe for the author’s Easy Pie Dough, but my preference is for Martha Stewart’s Basic Pie Crust.  I add the optional sugar when making fruit pies.

Dr. Pitcairn’s Healthy Powder Recipe

This recipe is an important ingredient to be used in Pupcakes.  It is from Dr. Pitcairn’s excellent reference: Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. Truly no pet owner should be without this valuable resource, I can’t recommend it highly enough!

This recipe is reprinted with permission from Rodale Books, 733 Third Avenue, New York, NY  10017.

2 cups nutritional yeast (you can substitute brewer’s yeast if you can’t find nutritional yeast)
1 cup lecithin granules
1/4 cup kelp powder
4 TBS Level 1 Bone Meal Powder (I substitute 2 Tablespoons eggshell powder I make from my neighbor’s free range eggs per Dr. Pitcairn’s substitution notes)
1,000 milligrams vitamin C (ground) or 1/4 tsp sodium ascorbate (optional)

Combine ingredients in a 1 quart container (Plastic rice containers are perfect) and refrigerate.

Corned Beef Spread

This is a great way to enjoy your leftover corned beef.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse grained mustard
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 TBS finely chopped fresh parsley
2 cups cooked, finely chopped corned beef

Combine mayonnaise, sour cream and mustard in a medium bowl until well blended.

Stir in corned beef, onions and parsley

Serve on bread, toast or crackers.

Is There Anything Nicer Than a Sleepy Sunday Morning?

Is There Anything Nicer Than a Sleepy Sunday Morning?

Monday Moo-sings: In which we share random farm happenings, snapshots & recipes

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If there is, I sure haven’t found it yet.  And nobody knows how to enjoy a beautiful day more than cows. If you’ve never seen pure contentment before, go find a herd of cows outside in a grassy field on a cool, dry, sunny day. Settle in and watch quietly. Cows have a lot to teach us all about pleasure and mindfulness.

Here’s how we spent our beautiful weekend:

the Herd Hard at work. It’s a Rough job, I honestly don’t know how they do it.

Bling needs a nap after a tough morning of stuffing herself.

How cute is this?? They’re even snoring…

What do cows dream about? I had to poke this one just to be sure

Awwww – he was just getting to the good part.  Sorry little Fritz, Go back to sleep…

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Hope you all enjoyed a lovely and blessed Easter Sunday.

Easter Egg Glut? Pickle ’em!

Easter Egg Glut? Pickle ’em!

THINKING THURSDAY: SOMETHING TO PONDER IN THE WORLD OF FOOD AND FARMING.

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It’s time. Time for the springtime rituals of Easter baskets & hard-boiled eggs. Like chocolate bunnies, those eggs are everywhere and you can only eat so many egg-y things before either they or you go bad.

So, rather than avoiding waste by being stingy with the single healthy, natural thing in the standard-issue Easter basket, after the day is over, pickle the excess. Pickled eggs will keep for months, make sure none go to waste and add a powerful new culinary staple to your pantry.

I’ve gone through plenty of recipes seeking the perfect blend of simplicity and yumminess and what follows is my favorite. For now.  It’s a forgiving recipe though, so feel free to nip and tuck to suit yourself.

Like all simple recipes, the deliciousness is proportionate to the quality of the ingredients.  The number one most important step is this: start with great eggs. 

I am a believer in the power of the farm fresh, pastured egg. Of course, I’m lucky because my neighbor keeps a big flock of free ranging hens and is a generous sharer. Kind of like healthy mother culture, he gives me three dozen eggs, I return a pint of pickled eggs and my emptied egg cartons and the circle of life continues.  Don’t have a chicken-farming friend? You can find one here.

Since your whole reason for this glut of hard-boiled eggs is probably for the fun of dying the eggs with your kids, you should know it is not necessary to buy white eggs to make pretty dyed eggs. The brown shells will dye to softer shades, although yellows may be a little disappointing. Since most farm-fresh eggs are brown, this is a public service announcement designed to save you from the white battery hen eggs in the supermarket.

Once you have your awesome eggs, please pay extra special attention to the process of hard boiling the eggs. With a little extra care, your pickled eggs will be radiantly beautiful. Like pure sunshine, really.

Neglecting your eggs will create that icky green ring around the outside of the yolk which is a real downer for me.   Of course it makes no difference in the taste, and I’ll still gobble them up, but a beautiful ring-free yolk makes me really happy.

The Secret to Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs:

You may or may not know that freshly laid hard-boiled eggs are difficult to peel. They are – I kid you not. Try to store the eggs in the refrigerator for at least a week before boiling.  If you find that eggs you have already boiled just won’t peel nicely, store the cooked eggs in the refrigerator for a few days and they should become easier to peel.

Or, you may try steaming instead of boiling – this quickie from the always entertaining and informative Alton Brown brings up a few good pointers.  Note: Alton Brown is referring to store-bought eggs, so his advice about the freshness of the eggs is a little off for laid-today eggs from the farm. His tip about centering the yolks is right-on and one I learned the hard way.

I don’t steam my eggs because I really don’t have a good steamer, and I’m about to do three dozen, not four.  So, this is how I do it:

  1. Take the eggs out of the refrigerator for about an hour before starting.  To center the yolks, secure carton lids (a rubber band works well) and place the cartons on their sides. Otherwise, yolks may be too near the egg wall, causing you to break them when you peel the egg – not so good for pickled eggs, but no problem for egg salad.
  2. Use as many large pots as necessary to place eggs in a single layer and cover by at least an inch or two of cold water. Starting with cold water and bringing the eggs to a boil gently will help avoid shocking the eggs into cracking.
  3. I add a teaspoon of white vinegar and ½ teaspoon of salt to each pot.
  4. On high heat, bring to a boil and as soon as your water boils, cover pot and turn off the heat. (I have an electric stove. If you have gas, once the water reaches a boil, remove pot from flame. Turn down to low, return pot to burner and simmer for one minute.
  5. After the minute, remove from burner, cover and let sit for 12 minutes.
  6. While the eggs are resting, prepare an ice water bath large enough to accommodate all your eggs at once. You can use a large bowl, pot or even the sink if necessary.
  7. Remove the eggs using a slotted spoon and submerge in the ice bath to cool.

Peeling your eggs:

  1. Allow your eggs plenty of time to cool.
  2. Set up a bowl of clean, cold water and a container or bowl to store your peeled eggs
  3. I start by gently cracking the egg all over and starting at the wide end. If you’re lucky, the shell will gently peel away from the egg, leaving a smooth shiny surface. Rinse in the water & place in the storage container. Repeat.
  4. If you’re not lucky, the shell will cling to the egg and tear the flesh of the egg leaving a knobby messy looking egg. Still tastes good, but not quite so beautiful. If this is the case, after creating the opening, dip into the water as needed to keep everything moist & slippery. Try sliding a spoon gently under the shell and carefully lifting the shell away from the egg.  Be patient and gentle and you should be successful.
  5. Occasionally, your best efforts will fail. Try tucking the cooked eggs back into the fridge for a few more days and you should have better luck. Or, if you just want to eat the eggs and can live with their funky look, do your best and soldier on.

Pickling your eggs:

I’ve tried lots of different recipes and this is my favorite for both flavor and ease.  I am a huge fan of the pickled vegetables you get in restaurants in Mexico so like to add some carrots, chiles and garlic to my eggs. The pickled carrots are a tender-crisp treat and a colorful addition to whatever I end up making with the pickled eggs.

Click here for a printable recipe

Storing your eggs safely:

I am the first to admit I may be a little too fearless when it comes to food safety. I have been making pickled eggs for some time and had been storing them on a shelf in my basement.   But apparently the National Center for Home Preservation doesn’t share my confidence in non-refrigerated storage. If you’re new to preserving, check out their website and this page on pickled eggs – it’s an invaluable free resource.

Eating your pickled eggs & carrots:

xPickled Egg Sandwichxxxpaired with Green Beansxxand vinaigrette slaw

My favorite ways to eat pickled eggs:

  • Pickled Egg Sandwich: slather a slice of good, toasted white bread with mayonnaise (gold stars for homemade bread AND mayo), slice a pickled egg on top, toss a few of the carrots & chile on top and season with a good grind of freshly ground black pepper.
  • Sliced or crumbled over salads & grains: any green salad can benefit from some nice slices of pickled egg. Or, crumble some pickled egg on top of rice,  pasta or cooked vegetable dishes.
  • Egg salad:  try making your favorite egg salad dish with pickled eggs instead of plain hard-cooked for a zingy change
  • Topper: Chopped pickled egg on top of potato, tuna or chicken salads, veggie dishes and dips
  • Sandwich topper: Slice a pickled egg onto a meat sandwich. Really kick it up a notch and top it all with crunchy vinaigrette slaw.

All Right-ey. Now that you know you can cook your eggs all at once and store them ready to eat for months, there’s no reason to hold back!  Dye all the eggs you want and enjoy this handy way to amp up the flavor and protein content of your meals.

What’s your favorite way to eat pickled eggs?

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday. What’s that you ask? It’s an ambitious and enlightening collection of posts from bloggers all over about issues near and dear to my heart: real food and natural living. Check it out!

Tired of new babies yet?

Tired of new babies yet?

Monday Moo-sings: In which we share random farm happenings, snapshots & recipes

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Well hello, hel-lo.

Maybe this is losing it’s entertainment value for you, but if so, humor me. Like any new mom, I’ve got to get it out of my system. Late Thursday, then early Friday, the last of the first wave of calves was born.

Finally Zay-monster can stop hiding everyone else’s kid – Thursday night, she had her own. And has tucked him (yes, it’s a boy) into the brambles just like she did with little Beatrice.  Apparently that’s where Zay thinks babies belong…

Zay hides 'em good. I searched for a good 30 minutes till I found this lump. But Zay knew exactly where he was...

All afternoon & evening Thursday,  Femme had been standing near the fence which is a pretty predictable sign for her. And, sure enough, early Friday morning, sweet Femme had a little boy too.

Both new boys are tucked into the barn with their moms for a couple days of bonding before joining the gang.  Now I can relax a little and get to know these new little personalities.

Femme enjoys room service - showing the little fella what to do at the hay bale

xxxxxxxxFemme & her little one decided they’d rather play inside today

Our first, Suzette, is very ladylike and playful. And very happy to have playmates.  She doesn’t like to be dirty, which is kind of funny to watch especially since it’s mud season.  Molly’s Max is all boy, very handsome and just a little rowdy.

But so far my money is on Beatrice to be the one to give Honey a run for her money.

Bling & Beatrice... Silly mom, Silly daughter

Beatrice is not one bit shy and actually tries to get me to play with her.  Which is tempting today because she’s so very cute, but the day’s not far off when Beatrice will be a 700 pound porker like her sister Bess.  Then,  it won’t be a funny game at all… at least for me.

A couple more days of fence monitoring while everyone learns the important cow-life lesson of electric fencing, boundaries & consequences.  Then I can relax a bit ’till the next round.  Fenceline 101 is a trial and error system so the first couple days are full of surprises for all of us…

Total Count:  Boys: 3   Girls: 2