Monday, May 6, 2019

Two of my favorite rhubarb recipes: German Rhubarb Meringue Cake from my Grandma, and good old fashioned pie



Although I completely gave up eating refined white sugar six years ago, I made an exception this year when rhubarb season rolled around (hint: NOW!!!), because: duh! Rhubarb!

My kids go out in the garden and suck on the stalks raw (NEVER eat the leaves, you know that, right?).  The raw stalks are much too tart for me, so I transform them into the best German dessert that has been passed down to us from generation to generation.  

Since I'm full blooded German, you know this stuff is authentic. Let me first introduce you to my grandma's rhubarb meringue cake.  My mouth is watering as I write this, I swear to you.


German Rhubarb Meringue Cake

Ingredients:


Topping:


~ 600 grams rhubarb (equals 1 1/4 pounds, or equals 4 cups chopped)

Dough:


~ 100 grams soft or melted butter (equals 1 stick)
~ 125 grams sugar (equals 3/4 cup)
~ pinch of salt
~ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
~ 2 eggs
~ 150 grams flour (equals 1 1/2 cups)
~ 50 grams round almonds or ground pecans (equals 3/4 cup)
~ 2 teaspoons baking powder

plus
~ some butter to butter pan
~ 25 grams sugar (equals 1/4 cup) to sprinkle over rhubarb


Meringue:


~ 3 egg whites
~ 150 grams sugar (equals 3/4 cup)


You need a 26 cm (10 inch or so) spring form pan.


Directions:


Preheat oven to 175 degree Celsius (equals 350 degrees Fahrenheit).

Wash rhubarb, dry it off well, then cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

For the dough, combine butter, sugar, salt and vanilla in a bowl. Mix it with a hand mixer until the sugar is dissolved.

Add one egg at a time and mix them in each time.

Combine flour, ground nuts, and baking powder, and gradually mix it into the wet ingredients.

Put the dough into a buttered spring form pan.

Add the rhubarb pieces and then sprinkle them with the other 1/4 cup sugar.

Bake on the second lowest oven rack in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, beat the egg whites stiff, then slowly add the sugar and beat until you have a firm, glistening mass.

After 30 minutes baking, spread the egg white mixture meringue on the cake, and if you want peaks to form, kind of fluff it with a fork to make little peaks.

Bake for another 15 minutes.

Let cool inside the spring form pan.






Note that the picture immediately above has meringue that I overbeat. The picture above this one is perfect meringue, with little fluffed up peaks.  They both taste fine, they just look different.

Now for the pie recipe.  My oldest son LOVES this, so I usually make a whole one for just him.  I'm not kidding you.


Rhubarb pie



Ingredients:


2 Pie Crusts:


~ 3 cups flour
~ pinch of salt
~ 8 Tablespoons cold butter cut into 1 inch pieces
~ 2/3 cup ice cold water or more

In a food processor: Pulse flour, salt and butter until small pebbles form (about 10 times). Slowly add water until dough comes together. Don't overmix. Divide this into 2 pieces and form into 2 disks (5 inch diameter). Put in freezer for 1/2 hour to chill, then roll it out.

You can also make pie crust by hand instead of using a machine.


Filling:


~ 4 cups washed rhubarb, chopped into 1/4 inch slices
~ 1 1/3 cups sugar
~ 6 Tablespoons flour or corn starch
~ 1 Tablespoon butter

Directions:



Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Put one pie crust into a buttered pie plate.

Combine sugar and flour or cornstarch. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of this onto the pie crust in the pie plate.

Put rhubarb on to of this and spread it out.

Sprinkle remaining sugar and flour mixture over it.

Dot this with small pieces of butter.

Cover this with the second crust and stab it with a fork to create holes for steam to escape.

Bake pie on lowest rack in oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for another 40 or 45 minutes.






Saturday, May 4, 2019

Saturday, April 27, 2019

No words






I don't really need words here, do I? The beauty speaks for itself, doesn't it?

But since I'm not one to swallow my words, here are some:

We've been soooo enjoying spring, with all the blossoming things around us, and the garden thriving, and walking barefoot.

I don't like wearing gloves or shoes when I dig in the soil to plant or weed. I love the feeling of dirt, although I have to admit that stepping on a slimy slug is not so great.

Anyway. At the end of the day, this is what my feet look like.  Also, my face looks tired, because it is. Working in the garden all day isn't as easy as it used to be 25 years ago...




These spring days are so full, so physical, and so welcome after a long, cold winter.  We love sitting at the end of the day, watching the kids frolic outside, helping with chores in the garden, or raking grass, or jumping on the trampoline.

Our friends gave us this trampoline a long time ago when their kids flew the nest.  We we put it over a big hole so it would be on the ground lest someone broke their neck falling off it.  We've gotten a lot of mileage out of that old thing.  The kids love it, and I like it mostly for stretching out on my back and staring up at the sky.






Talking of relaxing: Another favorite thing at the end of the day is sitting on the porch with a glass of our homemade Oregon Grape wine.

Two years ago, we picked 20 pounds of these wild berries in our wild forests and made them into wine, and oh my goodness, I need to tell you: this is the best wine I've ever tasted. Better than the store bought stuff, honestly.

Also, it has a bunch of medicinal properties, so I feel good about drinking it. Ahem.

If you want to try it, come to our Homesteading/Wilderness retreat in August, and you get some.


 Another fun thing this week: driving over the the Methow Valley, just over the North Cascade Mountain Pass on the East.  The road over the pass closes every winter and doesn't open again for six months, and this year it opened super early.

So off we went, because the mountain biking is good in the Methow, and one of our kids is mountain bike obsessed. Since he's homeschooled, we get to do these adventures in the middle of the week when the crowds are almost non-existent this time of year.

Heaven, I tell you. Heaven.








This guy didn't get to go. He was sick. Excuse me for publishing this photo of you with a fever. You're a good sport.


This guy did get to go. Lucky dude.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Typically temperamental - but the garden is going in!

In typical April fashion, she is being temperamental. One day, she's shining the sun down on us and makes the plants shoot up in front of our eyes, and another day, she's dumping rain and makes us light the wood stove.

But while she's having a hard time making up her mind, I'm single-minded and focused: get the garden in.

So whenever the sun comes out, I shovel compost, broadfork garden beds, and plant things.  Peas, radishes, garlic, carrots and beets are already up.  And all our 40 pounds of potatoes are planted!  We've expanded our garden into the South-East corner of our property, since the potatoes get to grow there with a pretty view of some mountains.  Great logic, huh?




Of course I enlist the help of youngsters whenever I can.  Since I plant potatoes in furrows, there's quite a big of digging involved, and by the time rows are dug for that many plants, my back is grateful for the help and company of cheerful kids.

I have a blog post about planting potatoes if you want to learn how to do this.  >> Click here to read it <<

In case you are wondering why I have bird netting over my garden beds, it's so that the pesky birds can't pull up the emerging, succulent green sprouts.  So there, birds!






Springtime is such a lovely time of the year, even though she can't make up her mind about the weather.

Cherry and plum trees are blooming in full force.

Foraging for wild food is abundant.  I have already gathered and dried a bunch of nettles, and I often snack on Miner's Lettuce and Dandelion leaves when I go for walks.

And volunteer kale is sprouting up in a corner of our property where I dumped some garden clippings the year before.  What a treat!

Plus: tulips and trilliums and baby goats! What's not to love!








Spring time also signals bicycling time - one of my great loves.  So whenever weather and time permit, I grab one of my kids and drag them out on an excursion.

Or kayaking and canoeing: We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and by golly, we will be out in it, even if it rains!  We took the boys and their friends out to Lake Shannon for an impromptu rowing trip in the rain.

Hint: when you take four teenagers out rowing while it's drizzling, bring lots and lots and lots of food.  Treats are a great motivator.




I will leave you with images of more spring:

Naturally dyed easter eggs - dyed with cabbage.  I have a tutorial on how to do this on my blog.  >> Click here to read it <<


I finished knitting my skirt (called "Bee You Skirt", found here on Ravelry):


Our pot hole filling neighborhood party was a great success! Our one-mile-long unmaintained forest service road had gotten impossible to drive without throwing our backs or necks out, so now it's easy going again!


What's blooming in your part of the world?






Saturday, March 23, 2019

The most beautiful naturally dyed easter eggs, how to make nettle pesto, and how to use a broadfork

Easter is a month away, but the stores are already filled with Easter stuff.  I don't like all the hype and commercialism around holidays, but I do love the simple rituals that go with special holidays.

Enter easter egg dyeing. For years now, our family has used an easy method to create the most stunning easter eggs, involving cabbage, vinegar, leaves and panty hose (or cheese cloth).

>> Here's my tutorial if you want to make these. << 

You totally should! It looks so complicated, but it's NOT!



Spring has arrived here. Last week, most of the snow melted (except on the North side of our five acres), and we worked in the garden with T-shirts and shorts. 80 degrees, people! Crocuses are blooming!

Luke and I planted garlic. I shovelled our home-made compost (which is gorgeous!) from our finished-compost-pile, hauled it over to the garden in the wheelbarrow, spread it over the designated garlic-growing-bed, and Luke helped me dig it in with the broadfork.

If you have never used a broadfork, you should watch my video where I explain why it's so much better for the soil, and how to use it. Or you can read the blog post I wrote about it here.















We've been picking the first nettles for cooking in soups. Ohhhh, our bodies are loving this extra nutrition!

Many people don't know that nettles are edible, let alone a famous powerhouse of a food that nourishes your body like few other greens.  If you want to learn more about why nettles are so good for you, how to harvest them, and how to make nettle pesto, watch my video tutorial here, or read my blog post here.





Last weekend, my hubby Steve, our nine-year-old daughter Eva and I set out for a bike ride on the Cascade Trail, which goes from Concrete to Sedro Woolley. It's a lovely gravel trail meandering through farm land, forest, and along the Skagit River.

I am proud to say and not at all shy about bragging: it's a 23 mile bike ride, and we did the whole thing. Our daughter rocks! She's strong... although she did complain after a few hours. We bribed her with many treats and the promise of ice cream, and it worked!

We started out at 5 B Bakery in Concrete, with a belly-full of breakfast.



We met buffalo along the way...



And ran into a flooding trail that gave us wet feet.



On a break at the river, we fed Eva who was kind of sick of the whole trip by then, let her rest a little, and I got to sit and knit...





Eva got a second wind at the end of the trip and sprinted to the restaurant where we met her brother Kai, who would drive us back home. We stuffed our faces with Mexican food and were grateful for chairs that didn't make our butts hurt like our bike saddles...



Let me share some other favorite pictures of the week with you, including

~ Steve and Luke building a bike ramp (can you tell why my heart is in my throat a lot of the day with Luke doing all these crazy potentially neck-breaking mountain bike jumps???)





~ A bonfire after pruning our orchard, and drinking hard apple cider that we made from our own apples last year... Heaven!



~ Taking my computer outside and working on the porch, as if it were summer!



~ Reading to Eva at night while she knits, after a long day of work. To be honest with you, some nights I just want to go hide and not interact with anyone, or space out on Netflix, and that’s OK. But when I can rally no matter how tired I am and really go the extra mile to spend quality time with my kids, it usually turns out to be very rewarding. I am aware of how fast they are growing up. 

It can be tricky to balance this desire to be the best mothers we can be with also taking care of our own needs, right, Mamas?



How are you doing? Is spring happening where you live? What are you doing in the garden? Please leave a comment below and share with us!



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