09 June 2012

At the Farmer's Market

Who can resist?

Every Saturday, May through October, Oak Park hosts a grand Farmer's Market.  I usually go a handful of times a year, until our garden is ready; after that, I am so disgusted by the prices at the Market that I never want to see a fresh potato again ($3.00 for three teeny, tiny beets that aren't even organic?  Crazy!) But the funny thing is, the locals can't get enough- they are glassy-eyed and practically drooling as they line up, juggling babies, fresh doughnuts, and fistfuls of dollars to spend outrageous amounts of money on anything grown in Michigan.  Ah, well.  The stuff is usually quite good, anyway.

Typical Oak Park crowd.

I made some rhubarb jam this week, and it was so stinking delicious it was imperative that I make more.  I polished off nearly one jar already with my morning brioche, gave one to my neighbor, and have one in reserve.  Since I can not be without my daily tart/sweet fix, I headed down to the market today to buy some more rhubarb while it is still in season.  Like my neighbors, I too could not get enough, and in the blink of an eye (or the zip of my wallet), I had all of this:

Asparagus, spring garlic, spring onions, beets, new potatoes, and tasty rhubarb. 

Tonight for dinner, I plan to roast all of the above deliciousness (except the rhubarb) on the grill with olive oil, fresh thyme, salt, and pepper.  That, a glass (or two) of wine, and some grilled pugliese bread is all one needs for a delightful summer meal!

As for the rhubarb, here is my recipe for jam.  It is the perfect mix of sweet/tart.  I eat this with everything- all sorts of breads, mixed into Greek yogurt, etc... my neighbor likes it mixed into scrambled eggs!  If you prefer, you can substitute lemon or another citrus fruit for the orange.  I am rather non-specific with my recipes, but you are able to use your best judgement, aren't you?

Rhubarb Jam

3.5 pounds of fresh, cleaned, and washed rhubarb stalks
3 cups of sugar
1 medium orange, juice and zest
1 cup of water
3 one-quart canning jars and lids, washed and sterilized*

Chop the rhubarb into 1/2 inch chunks and place in a heavy-bottomed medium (about four-quart) stock pot.  Add sugar and water.  Using a micro-planer, zest the rind of the entire orange into the pot.  Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into the pot (be careful to avoid adding the seeds).  Cook on the stove top at a medium-high heat until the jam is bubbling larger, slower bubbles (or until you think that it is done).  On my stove, this takes about 15 minutes, give or take a few.**   Remove from the heat and ladle into the sterilized jars, filling to a half inch from the top.  Wipe the rims with a wet cloth and seal.  Immediately turn the filled jars upside down and let sit for 24 hours.  Make sure that each jar is sealed properly, and store in a cool place.

* I sterilize jars by washing them well in hot, soapy water, then placing them in boiling water or a 225 degree F oven for 5 minutes.  You can use your own method, if desired.
**You will know when it is finished- trust your instinct!

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