Friday, May 27, 2011

Rhubarb Chutney

I've been wondering what to do with my rhubarb. I made a couple of rhubarb cakes (took one to a friend and ate the other one myself!) but wanted to try something a little bit different. The Europeans seem to like rhubarb as a savory treat, so I thought I'd give it a try. I found some recipes for rhubarb chutney and combined the parts that sounded the best to my palate. The end result was pretty tasty. I roasted a pork loin and have been enjoying pork and chutney sandwiches for a couple of days.

Rhubarb Chutney (all measurements approximate - based on my poor memory - I think this is quite forgiving and flexible, so no need to be exact)

1/2 c red wine vinegar (my homemade stash)
1 c sugar
1 jalapeno, diced
2 cinnamon sticks
2 green cardamom pods
2 T grated ginger
zest from one lemon, plus the juice
handful of dried cherries
handful of golden raisons
1 red onion
4-6 c chopped rhubarb
And I can't remember if I put garlic in it, but I put garlic in nearly everything, so I'm assuming I did.

I put the first 7 ingredients in a pot and let them boil until the sugar had dissolved. Then in went the rhubarb and onion. I cooked it for maybe 10-12 minutes until the rhubarb was soft but not totally disintegrated.

That's it. Easy.

But then don't make the silly mistake I made next. I put the chutney in another pot to cool and browned the pork loin in the chutney pot. That was fine. But then I stuck the whole pot in the oven to roast the pork loin. BIG MISTAKE.  All of the sugars from the chutney caramelized (that's a nice way of saying BURNED) to the pot, making it nearly impossible to clean! I've scrubbed the thing about 6 separate times and think I'm nearly there in getting it clean. It was not a pretty sight.

Rhubarb Chutney 2.0
I used the same base recipe as above, but used cider vinegar and a splash of balsamic vinegar in place of the red wine vinegar. It was rounded out by: jalapeno, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, mustard seeds, garlic, onion, ginger, dates, prunes, dried cherries, golden raisons, red pepper flakes. This version is definitely more tangy/tart due to the cider vinegar and the mustard seed. I'm still up in the air, but I think I like the red wine vinegar version better. Beware: the flavors do change quite dramatically once they've had a day or two to marry and mature.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Another Mystery Plant

Anyone know what this is?

UPDATED: I was at Costco yesterday and found a plant that looked remarkably similar, so I'm assuming it is a perennial bachelor button.

I have no idea what color it will be when it blooms, but I'm looking forward to seeing it. Based on what I've read, I think I'll need to move it at some point - it's too close to a peony - and I've read they can be invasive. So it will probably gain a spot in the hell strip and another one out back by the alley where it can spread all it wants.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dodging the Thunder

I was in rainy Baltimore most of last week. Not only did I miss some glorious weather in MN, I also missed out on a week of prime planting time. I was quite looking forward to digging in the dirt all weekend. Mother Nature has not been exactly cooperative. Yesterday, in between rumblers, I managed to get in a couple of pepper plants, potted up the over-wintered rosemary, did some weeding and trimming, stopped by Menards to see if mulch was on sale (not), took a little walk to see what was blooming around the neighborhood, and got a spot ready for the beans. We got another wicked storm around 2:00 am - it sounded like it might have hailed, but I think it was just really hard rain pelting the windows. I was anxious to see how yesterday's plantings came through the storm.

EARLY this morning, it was quite nice. I had a cup of coffee outside while wandering around the yard, pulling a few weeds here and there, and deciding where some of the remaining veggies and herbs should go. I should have stayed outside and worked, but I was sleepy, so came back in for a nap. Upon waking, I made it outside for an hour or so before the next storm rolled in. At the moment, it feels like a dark and stormy night out there - but it's only 11:21 am.

Maybe it's a good thing that I've had to take some breaks. I have a tendency to overdo it; spending 10 hours outside busting my butt and then paying for it the rest of the week by barely being able to move.

When the rain stops, I'll try to get out to take a few pictures.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Overwintered Kale

Much to my surprise, some of last year's kale made it through the winter. Once the snow had melted, I started cleaning up some of the beds and was going to yank out the thick, gnarly stalks from last year's kale. And then I saw it - tiny little leaves popping out of the stalk. I knew kale could be overwintered in milder climates, but I never gave it much thought here. I'm curious to see if it will flower and set seed this year. I'd love to have a huge patch of it that just keeps coming back forever! I have a friend that loves this soup, so I thought I'd give it a try with the first cutting of kale.

From All Recipes


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup dry red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch collard greens - rinsed, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, stir in onion and salt; cook until softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in lentils, and cook for 1 minute. Pour in water, then bring to a boil over high heat, then turn heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add collard greens, and cook until wilted, about 10 minutes. When the lentils are tender, stir in the collard greens and season with cumin, cinnamon, and garlic; allow to simmer 10 more minutes. Stir in lemon juice before serving.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

From Winter to Summer - In a Week

A week ago, it was snowing. Yesterday it was 86F when I went to bed. Crazy. And wonderful.
I've started putting in a few veggies: tomatoes, peppers, celery. And I noticed that I have a couple of peas coming up. I got them in late and used REALLY old seed so I wasn't even sure they'd come up. Of course, now that I've got a few popping up, my excitement is tempered by the fact that the bunnies will probably get them long before they're big enough to actually produce peas.
I love these old-fashioned bleeding hearts. They're just so sweet.
Mom was getting rid of a little plant stand at last week's garage sale, so I took it (thanks, Mom!). It makes the perfect stand for my elephant-ear-birdbath. The mulched area behind the birdbath is planted with tall red dahlias. The area in front of the birdbath is planted in shorter yellow dahlias. And the tripod might be home to beans - or tomatoes - I haven't decided yet. And in the far bottom left of the picture are purple and white cone flower. I'm excited to see this spot when things are in bloom.
This spot is to the left of the picture above. Iris, coneflower and a peony that I'm very excited to see bloom. It's been described as looking like a fried egg - a yellow center with white petals on the outside. There's some lavender in there, too (I didn't think it made it through the winter, but I checked it out this morning and saw a single green leaf starting to pop out). And that plant to the right of the peony ... I have no idea what it is (another find from the friend-of-a-friend's garden of plenty). If you recognize it, please let me know!