Over the past 3 days, rhubarb has been collecting in my refrigerator. My mom gives me both hers and her neighbor's, and a friend who owns a house in town but lives elsewhere told me I should pick hers. Then there are my own 3 plants. I knew I wanted to make a particular rhubarb dessert by Sunday because the friend is coming to town, so it seemed like a good time to collect all I could and have a big rhubarb canning/baking day.
I started chopping rhubarb while Dan got dinner ready and 8 lbs later, I had enough for Rhubarb Strawberry Crunch, Rhubarb Ketchup, Rhubarb/Strawberry/Orange jam, and 2+ qts left for the freezer. The jam was the only one I'd made before and my primary recollection was how annoying it was to zest the oranges. I went to William-Sonoma (oh my, that's a dangerous store) this week and got a Microplane zester, so zesting 3 oranges became a 3 minute job rather than 30 minutes. I feel like that's $15 well spent to save that headache a couple times a year.
The idea of rhubarb ketchup intrigued me. What would non-tomato ketchup taste like? I had to try it just to find out. It involved roasting the rhubarb along with red onion and garlic before blending them with a bunch of spices. It was supposed to simmer for 25-35 min, covered, but at some point I decided it would never reduce if I kept that up, so I'm now well into hour 2 of the simmering. Dan says there's no way he's touching the rhubarb ketchup and I'm not so sure I will either. I'm realizing I'm not such a fan of savory tastes. Give me sugary over savory any day. I haven't really tasted it yet, but the smell isn't that enticing. I figure I'm even less likely to eat it if it's runny, so it might be simmering for a long while yet.
The dessert called for flour, butter, sugar and oatmeal as both a bottom and top layer, with rhubarb, strawberry jello powder, and some sugar/cornstarch/water gooeyness in the middle. My food processor died when I made Smitten Kitchen's Chocolate Peanut spread, (I think it was worth it) so I used my pastry blender -- the handheld thing with a bunch of cutting things, not something electric -- and I must have done a crummy job mixing in the butter because some of the topping is dry crumbles of flour. Other than that, it'll probably taste good. I don't think it's possible to go THAT wrong with sugar, flour, butter, and fruit.
As for the jam, I happily zested my three oranges and then got confused (despite making this last year). The recipe calls for 3 cups mashed strawberries and 3 cups softened rhubarb and implies it should be about 2 1/4 lbs each, raw. I went into the freezer and realized I only had 2 cups of frozen you-picked strawberries left. Okay, I was fine with using 2 cups strawberries and 4 cups rhubarb, whatever. But then I defrosted the strawberries and mashed them and realized it was only a single cup. Then I began weighing out rhubarb and quit when 6 cups still hadn't hit 2 lbs. I didn't want THAT high a rhubarb/strawberry ratio. I debated whether to cut the recipe in half or have a higher rhubarb ratio or go to the store and buy strawberries. I decided to cook some rhubarb to see how much it really would cook down. After a few minutes of stirring, I decided it would be nice to follow the recipe exactly because I think I had extra rhubarb last year too, but I'd wait until tomorrow to get the strawberries. I added more rhubarb to the pot but ended up needing about 7 cups to end up with 3 cups cooked. Sheesh. So my mashed strawberries and cooked rhubarb (with orange zest) is waiting in the fridge. And somehow it's midnight and I haven't actually put anything into the canner yet. I went to the effort to take pictures of this ridiculousness and Typepad isn't letting me upload them. What a mess!