Experimentation of Taste

A food blog that catalogs discovery of foods available through CSA Farms Shares and other arenas and the recipes to enhance the flavors.


A Dog as an Ingredient?!


2 Dogs
2 Adults
2 Kids
A tent or two

Mix up and throw into the outdoors to have some fun.

We spend lots of time camping here at this household. This weekend and part of next week we will be taking one of my best friend's kids camping with us. I will post a bunch of recipes of quick things to eat while camping. Most of our recipes can be used while backpacking, but this time we are car camping since the littlest one is not so sure of no bathrooms.

I am including this in the weekend round up of dogs over at SweetnicksPosted by Picasa

Recipe Follows

Sugar High Friday #22: Rhubarb Strawberry Jam my way

A friend of mine lent me a pressure cooker to use with my canning. I decided to take it to the extension office of Washington State University to check the seals, pressure gauge, etc. I asked them for a reference on using my pressure cooker and they lectured me not to experiment with it. The ladies told me only use an “Approved researched recipe” when canning. So for your information, I’m noting that the ladies at the WSU extension do not approve of Sugar High Friday and think that these experiments might be dangerous.

This admonition took some wind out of my sails from making Strawberry Rhubarb jam with a friend last Friday. I dutifully gathered up the available publications from WSU and went in search of the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. I ended up having to order it on Amazon - with a few other cookbooks of course!

My Strawberry Rhubarb jam was inspired by a comment from my pastor’s wife. She said that it would be awesome to have strawberry-rhubarb pie bottled as jam. I contemplated that while searching my cookbooks for canning recipes. I looked in Joy of Cooking – which I was informed I should not follow it because their health and safety precautions are outdated – and The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook – which is newish but mostly freezer jam. These stirred the creative juices and I came up with the recipe below. I grabbed the box of low sugar pectin, measured the rhubarb and cooked it down, added Strawberries and something wonderful came out.

I now stare sadly at my jam. My husband, David, and I had some with our pancakes this morning and both agree that it tastes wonderful. It has just the right balance of sweet and tart, strawberry and rhubarb. The dilemma remains: will it need to be refrigerated to be safe to eat? Are my previous canning experiments dangerous? I feel this is only a test of how tough my stomach got from living overseas. So far the test has been delicious and my husband thinks that the WSU warnings are just to cover their bases. Preliminary trials of this experiment suggest that it will be long gone before anything bad will happen to it and it will certainly be gone before the Plum Jam from last summer. Since it is taking up my nice wide mouth half pints, I might have to chalk that up to experience and toss it.

From now on I will rigidly follow all canning instructions in any book I get my hands on. Since two are on their way to me right now, I eagerly await their arrival. Then start canning with renewed fervor.

This morning’s pancakes and David’s reassurance have eased my doubts a little, so I am including the recipe. You may make it as a freezer jam, or can it at your own discretion.

At my home we have our very own rhubarb plant. It was split from my husband’s best friend’s plant in the middle of July. We do live in Washington State and the hot weather almost killed it, so I don’t recommend doing this. It has survived and given us many wonderful pies that my David is so famous for.

Storage: Trim off the leaves and dispose of them since they are poisons and only good for setting natural fabric dyes or cleaning stains. If you get yours from the grocery store, skip on to the great debate of fridge or freezer. They need to be tightly wrapped in plastic and can be kept for up to 3 weeks in the fridge. If you can not use them in that amount of time, cut them into 1 inch or smaller slices and freeze them in a bag for up to 6 months. Of course you can dry or can this precious veggie at once.

Uses: Hmmm….I remember my introduction to Rhubarb Applesauce in Holland. It was so good. If I can find a recipe, I will post it on this blog. Rhubarb can be treated as a veggie or a sweet. Pies, Jams, Compotes, Sauces, Quick Breads and the like are the typical treatment for this red beauty. It is used less traditionally in some great soups, stews, or savory dishes., Some people even eat it raw like celery.

Flavor Enhancers: Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Berries, Apples and Pears

Health Notes: High in Vitamin C, Fiber and Potassium. The Center for Disease Control considers these something that you should include in your diet to attain the 5-A-Day Veggie requirement.

Safety Notes: Don’t eat the leaves or roots or you can become very sick. A little girl ate some at my mother-in-law’s daycare to impress a boy in the group. She got sent home with instructions to watch her closely. Use non reactive pans when cooking or it will create a very unappetizing appearance and contain metal it flaked off by its acidity.

Rhubarb Strawberry Jam my way

6 cups Rhubarb (cut into 1 inch sections)
4 cups sugar
1 cup water

Simmer for 30 minutes until the Rhubarb has broken down into an applesauce consistency. Taste to adjust for sweetness. This one had a good balance of sweet and tart.

Add 2 cups of hulled strawberries to the pot. Simmer till strawberries soft about 2 hours.

Add one package of low sugar pectin. Cook till mixture sheets off of a spoon.

Fill Sterile Hot Jars and Process in Boiling Water Bath for 15 min. Remove immediately when done and place on a rack or dishtowel to cool overnight. Check the seals. If seals are not tight, place in fridge or reprocess by heating the mixture and cleaning the jars and using new seals.

This recipe was a loss variation on a freezer jam.

PS Alanna over at Veggie Venture has put together a great list of Canning Tips Posted by Picasa

Recipe Follows


Farm Share this week 8/5 to 8/12

This is what my farm share looks like. Normally I get a little bit more than I recieved here and they tend to be more unusual. Instead of the 4 heads of romaine lettuce, I get a bag similar in size to the bag on the upper left hand side filled with salad mix and edible flowers, but since the heat has been so bad I think I get what I get. Also I normally get a dark greens blend which works great mixed in to pasta sauces and mac and cheese and casseroles to add that extra nutritious punch. The bag in the upper left corner is a stir fry mix. I normally give this one away to friends but this week I kept and used half of it.

Recipe Follows

Seed Savers Peppers to spice up life.

The above peppers I received with my farm share. It was not know if they were hot or sweet peppers, since they came from Seed Savers, which supplies CSA farmers with free or low cost seeds to introduce to their customers. I think one of them is from the Garden Sunshine Mix. So I will be discussing chili peppers in general. This is for weekend herb blogging over at Kayln's Kitchen this week

Storage: Place unwashed Peppers in a paper bag or wrap in paper towels before placing in the crisper. They will keep like this for about a week. If they are stored in a plastic bag, they will spoil sooner. Also you can dry them in the sunlight and then have fresh ground chili powder.

Uses: Who doesn't know this one? Salsas, spicy food - if you like it hot try some in it. Mexican, Indian, Far Eastern, Caribbean and Creole cuisine are all famous for using some form of chili. Here is an article I came across this morning about peppers with a quick recipe.

Flavor Enhancer: Chili Peppers tend not to need flavor enhancement but if you like the flavor of a specific pepper which tends to be too hot for you add or drink a flavor neutral dairy product (soy milks and the like do not contain the cooling component). In addition salt and citrus juices bring out the freshness factor.

Health Notes: Chili have many beneficial properties. They stimulate circulation and help prevent blood clots. They help flush the body of toxins and bacteria thus making them great additions to your diet during cold and flu season and temporary relief from allergies. Your digestion speeds and heats up so that bacteria is killed and foods are broken down more effectively. It also allows your metabolism to heat up with as little as 1 teaspoon of chili sauce. These attractive little fruits are very high in vitamin C but we don't eat them in large does so they are not useful to add nutrients to your diet.

Safety Notes: If you have or are at risk for stomach cancer, avoid chilies. Also be very cautious when cutting, de seeding, and de veining peppers, if you touch your eyes or any cuts it can burn badly. Immediately flush area till burning ceases. To lessen this I use disposable gloves or a veggie bag from the grocery store to use like a glove when cutting the peppers. Then I wash my hands and tools to be extra safe. Also if you intend to grind your own chili powder do so in a closed grinder or use a dust mask and goggles.

Fresh Salsa

4 Tomatoes

1 Red Onion

2 unknown peppers

2 Green Onions

2 Tb Lime Juice

Handful of Cilantro

Chop up the above ingredients and mix together in a bowl and refrigerate for a hour before serving. If you feel something needs to be added, salt, pepper and garlic enhance the flavors nicely.

Recipe Follows


Tomatoes: The Season has started. Start your canning jars!

Ok so most of you just want to ripe the plump deliciousness off the vine as soon as it shows its rose head. I decided to not grow tomatoes this year but need them do to my sad state of being forced to buy tomato sauce instead of the sauce my husband says is near perfection or closer than he ever got with his attempts during his bachelor - pizza tossing days. (My man did a stint in college as a gourmet pizza prep guy in Seattle.)

I beg and scrounge all summer as I hear people proclaim..."I planted tomatoes this week hopefully I planted enough so I put 3 more in just in case." After church BBQs, I even stoop to the low point of swiping all the leftover homegrown tomatoes that no one wanted just so I can make enough sauce for our consumption since tomatoes and I don't seem to work out. I have decided to give it another go next year so I will have a year of planning and research and well a garden plot hopefully.

My Farm share came with a few (about a dozen) cherry and plum tomatoes. Oh heavenly sweetness, my mother would be shocked because even in my staunchly vegetarian days I stuck my noise up at tomato sauce and pasta or tomato anything... I even picked them out of the salad and told Olive Garden wait staff that my chicken parmesan must have cream sauce and no sign of red or it would be sent back and it did. Man was I confused and missing out. I don't remember when someone handed me a pint of cherry tomatoes and said try one, but since then tomatoes beware you have a stalker. Well maybe not that extreme but I will beg and borrow and trade sauce for tomatoes.

So here goes my simple but effective method of tomato sauce from tomato to creaminess. Take out and dust off your crock pot. The super large one (that you rarely use because when you prepare a normal portion of food all it seems to do is burn much to fast) set it to low or even better if you have a newer one warm. I like to slow cook my sauce, when without a crock pot the stove sits on the lowest setting it can maintain heat at for days. In art school, I would have a pot on the back burner for at least half the week.

Now that you have the pot out and the heat on, slice off the stem point and drop in whole until no more fit and cover overnight. Yes whole...it will work its way to gorgeously smooth sauce. Be patient. It helps to distract yourself by making a couple of loaves of bread to dip in the sauce later or do something creative.

Once you can poke hole in the tomatoes with a blunt spoon and the level has drop about an inch or so, pull out a blender. Most preferably an immersion blender and break up all the large chunks. If you are stuck with a basic blender, take the tomatoes out in groups and place in blender with the center of the lid removed and a kitchen towel placed over the top to avoid burning yourself if the mixture splashes. A few pulses should do the job.

Now it is time to add the spices - I normally add the following - garlic powder (it survives the long cooking process better), ginger, black pepper, salt, oregano, cumin, marjoram, zatar, basil, sage, parsley and a ring of fire habanero sauce but sometimes these change depending on what choices I have and what smells good mixed together that day. If you are new at mixing spices without precise measurement: Take a pinch or so of each spice you pick and place them in a small bowl and smell them. If something smells off to you, pull something out or put something in if it seems to be missing. Your smell and taste are your guide at this point.

At this point remove the lid and keep the sauce at a happy simmer till the liquid stops pooling at the surface and causes the sauce to thicken. Now beware hapless snackers have been known to dip tortilla chips in a good fresh sauce much like they would in a salsa and you might have less to can than you thought. Case in point my picture above has only a jar and a half.

Now comes the point of ladling your work of art into glass jars and canning it cleanly to last the winter. I will leave that for another day.

Happy Planning of all the delicious things you can do with tomatoes fresh or made to last the season cuz you could not consume that many in so short a time.

Recipe Follows


Starting back with something easy: Yellow Squash

My farm share this week included more vegetables that I recognized. That was exciting. I do enjoy experimenting but sometimes I prefer to know what I am working with rather than research it to excess and then make something.

I decided to get back into cooking after vacation by doing simple things. It will be included in the Weekend Herb Blogging Event #44 at Calendula & Concrete . My veggie of choice is Yellow Squash.

Storage: Store unwashed in a plastic bag in the veggie drawer of your fridge. If you get them wet, try to dry them as thoroughly as possible since water causes them to spoil faster. Wash them as needed. They are highly perishable so use them within 2-7 days. The glossier and firmer the skin the longer they will last before you need to cook them. (Maybe some lucky food bloggers that are growing them might be able to keep them longer.) For those of you with more than you can eat or give away, you can freeze them by blanching the sliced squash in boiling water for 2 months or if saving for a nice quick bread or such you can grate it raw and freeze either method up to 4 months.

Uses: small ones can be eaten raw, others can be steamed, blanched, boiled, grilled, roasted, fried or used as a container for stuffing. If blanching or boiling be careful of overcooking which results in soggy squash which is probably only appetizing to a baby who needs it extra soft. If you are cooking the squash in a dish and the dish tends to get watery, lightly salt the squash and place it on absorbent paper towels and rinse before adding to the dish.

Flavor Enhancers: Basil, dill, pepper, marjoram, chives, and mint work well with the mild flavor of yellow squash. Be careful of adding too many herbs and masking the squash entirely. They are paired well with garlic, onions, and tomatoes.

Health notes: They act as a diuretic and because they are high in potassium people with high blood pressure benefit from eating them. Since they are only 20 calories per cup, eat as many as you like.

Safety notes: if you have kidney or gallbladder problems, be careful in the amounts of squash you consume. Also for those taking calcium supplements wait 2-3 hours between taking your pill and eating squash.

Since we were having friends over to enjoy our nice outdoor dinning room, I decided to keep things simple. I sliced up 3 medium yellow squash and sautéed them over high heat. I did not use oil but my pans recommend no oil to limited oil, so you might need to add oil to prevent sticking. I cooked them till the seeds and edges turned a little brown then transferred them to a bowl. Since my herbs have been going wild with all the heat we have been experiencing recently, I cut off some purple basil and variegated oregano. I roughly cut them with my kitchen shears and tossed everything with safflower oil. Since my guests were running late, I stuck it in my oven at its lowest setting and then got just a tad bit softer. All in all a hit. Creamy Crisp slices of squash with just enough flavoring.

Recipe Follows