Rhubarb Jam

It is that time of year again and I am making my rhubarb jam.

Here is the recipe

4 pounds trimmed rhubarb stalks, cut into 3 to 4 inch lengths
2 3/4 pounds white sugar
3 ounces strained freshly squeezed lemon juice

DAY 1

Place the rhubarb in a large glass or plastic container and pour the sugar over it shaking to combine. Add the lemon juice and cover tightly and place in a warm area for 24 hours.

DAY 2

Place saucer with five metal teaspoons in a flat place in the freezer.

Transfer the mixture to your jam pot and stir to distribute the sugar. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally with a large heatproof utensil. Boil, stirring frequently and gradually decreasing the heat if the jam starts to stick until thickened and no longer watery, about 20 minutes.
For the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking, you will need to stir the jam nearly constantly to keep it from sticking.

When the jam has thickened, test it for doneness. Remove a spoon from the freezer and place about 1/2 a teaspoon on the spoon. Return it to the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove it carefully feel the underside of the spoon. It should be neither warm or cold; if still warm return to the freezer for another minute. Tilt the spoon vertically to see how quickly the jam runs and if it has thickened to a gloppy consistency, it is done. If it runs quickly, cook for another few minutes, stirring and test again. This jam, while spreadable, has a relatively loose texture.

Turn off heat, but do not stir. Using a large stainless steel spoon, skim any foam from the surface of the jam. Pour into sterilized jars and process in canning pot. I sterilize my jars and lids in a 250 degree oven for 30 minutes.

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At Last

Spring is finally here. I decided to organize the outdoor furniture in the hopes that I can start dining al fresco in the very near future.

I don’t usually like “coated” tablecloths, but this one is perfect for outdoors.

I believe we should try to make our outside living space as inviting as our indoor living space.

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Meat Slicer

About ten years ago when I was at my favorite Italian restaurant the owner asked me if I wanted him to get me a piece of prosciutto with his order for the restaurant. I jumped at the chance and then he told me I really needed a professional slicer if I wanted to have those gorgeous transparent slices. He ordered this one for me and it does an amazing job. I use it when I also have a large volume of hard cheeses to slice.

I was in one of my local cheese shops this morning and it bought a whole piece of prosciutto. When I got home I brought out the meat slicer from the basement and cleaned the dust off. It is being resurrected to the kitchen for the immediate future. You have to wipe it clean as soon as you are finished or you will have a hard time cleaning it. It is always wise to unplug it before you clean it so you can keep your fingers!

Prosciutto is one those things like Parmesan cheese that tastes better when you store it whole.

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Measuring Spoons

If you see measuring spoons on sale at the kitchen store (one of my happy places), pick up an extra set. I store them in my containers. It saves so much time when I am baking and I need a tsp. of baking powder, baking soda or salt. In some containers I place a half teaspoon and in others I place a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon.

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New Addition to the Kitchen

Last week I was in Home Sense and I spotted this Boos island. I have always wanted one and the price was just too good to resist. I don’t know how I did it, but with the help of two guys I was able to bring it home. Getting it into the kitchen was another story. However, I have no regrets.

Sometimes when there are two or three of us cooking and prepping at the same time, we are fighting for counter space. Nobody likes to face the backsplash! Now we have a whole new area to prep and chop at. I love that it looks out into the room and I can see into my yard which hopefully will be full of flowers soon.

The baskets that came with it are great for storing onions and shallots that I use on a regular basis.

Of course I will always use a cutting board because I couldn’t bear to cut on it and mark it all up. Just a part of my O.C.D.

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Wallpaper is Back

In case you haven’t noticed or been keeping up with the latest issues of House Beautiful or Veranda – wallpaper is back.

I had my powder room and dining room papered in this Cole & Sons hummingbird pattern and I just love it.

Every time I walk into those rooms it makes me smile.

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Creamy White Bean and Chorizo Soup

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Creamy-White-Bean-and-Chorizo-Soup-233903

This is one of my favorite bean soups. You do have to soak the beans overnight. It is one of those recipes where you can do a lot of the prep beforehand. The beans need an hour or so to cook so I like to start it in the morning so I am not rushed.

I found that I had to add more water while cooking the beans – about two cups. Just keep an eye on it.

You may have noticed that I have used a lot less than the required amount of Chorizo. My daughter who is enjoying this with me tonight won’t eat the Chorizo so I cut the amount by half.

As usual, the Vitamix did an amazing job of pureeing everything.

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Goodbye Winter

It is sixty degrees outside and the sun is peeping out off and on.

I got inspired to plant pansies. They can take the colder nights and brighten up the pots until the weather improves enough for me to get big, beautiful and colorful flowers to welcome summer.

I also planted all of the old tulip and narcissus bulbs I have been storing in the basement this past winter. I never throw out potted spring plants. Just store in a cool dry place and when spring comes plant them. Next spring they will bloom for you.

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Good Friday Paella

Paella is always a hit in this house. I am not going to lie to you – it is a lot of chopping, but you can do some of it ahead of time and the actually cooking is no big deal. It is best done outside on a barbecue – weather permitting, but I have done it on my gas stove.

I use my cousin’s recipe. She lived in Spain for many years so she is a paella expert.

If you are lucky enough to have access to the Bomba rice from Spain, use it. If not, Unico makes a good short grain rice that you can use instead.

Make sure you serve it with lots of fresh lemon wedges for squeezing on top of the paella just before you and your guests eat it.

The great thing about paella is that you can use any type of seafood, but don’t omit the Chorizo. It is key to the great flavor.

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