Except for salad greens, and family-size bags of carrots and frozen green beans, we buy almost no vegetables when we go food shopping. During the winter, we mostly eat the bounty from my garden that fills our freezer. At the supermarket, I often get a puzzled look from the cashier or the people in line behind me when I load those 5-pound bags on the conveyor belt. “Those are for our dog,” I say when someone asks.
We started feeding our previous dog green beans to replace some of the high-caloric dried dog food, and carrots for treats. The veggies filled him up and kept him lean and healthy until the age of almost fifteen-and-a-half.
Woody’s successor, Laszlo, is on the same diet. On his first visit to my garden as a pup, he was introduced to green beans and he immediately got the taste (which you can see here) . Note that I only grow beans for human consumption, I would not be able to keep up with the canine demand.
The funny thing was that when we dog-sat Laslzo’s brother over Christmas, he saw Laszlo being fed green beans and then refused to eat his own dry dog food. After checking with his master to make sure it was OK, we started feeding Brady green beans too, and he ate his food faster that a vacuum cleaner could suck up dust.Because we live in a rural area, we keep about a two-week supply of green beans in the freezer, and they constantly compete for space against all the veggies and fruits. The only fruits we buy in the wintertime, besides locally grown apples, are organic bananas, lemons, grapefruit and, occasionally, oranges.
When I saw that Marissa McClellan from Food in Jars is doing her Food in Jars Mastery Challenge again this year, kicking it off with citrus fruit in January, I started rethinking my two favorite jams, Rhubarb Pink Grapefruit Jam and Rhubarb Orange Jam. The latter serves as the filling for the challah recipe I contributed to The Immigrant Cookbook: Recipes that Make America Great, which raises funds for the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Right Project.I frequently catch myself eating those jams by the spoonful, thinking it would taste great as a dessert if only it didn’t contain so much sugar. So I turned it into a compote that can be eaten by itself or with a dollop of crème fraîche, or spooned onto plain yogurt, vanilla ice cream, rice pudding etc.
This month’s challenge on Marisa’s Calendar of Preserving Skills being about citrus fruit, I upped the amount of citrus. I did not bother preserving the compote in a boiling water bath since I know it will vanish quickly but if you wanted to process the jars in a boiling water bath, you certainly could, as the compote contains enough sugar and acidity for safe canning.Because the recipe uses the zest as well as the pulp, it’s important that the oranges and grapefruit be organic. Frozen rhubarb is commonly sold in 1-pound bags, which is enough to make both variations of the compote.
Processing the zest with the sugar makes a wonderfully fragrant citrus sugar that is also great in cakes such as in my Tunisian Orange Olive Oil Cake, and for flavoring desserts.
Orange Rhubarb Compote and Grapefruit Rhubarb Compote
4 to 6 organic oranges or grapefruit, enough to make 2 cups (500 g) pulp with juice
½ cup (100 g) sugar
8 ounces (225 g) fresh or frozen pink rhubarb
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (click here for my recipe), more to taste
1. Scrub the oranges or grapefruits under running water and dry well with paper towel. Zest 3 of them.
2. Process the zest with the sugar in the food processor until the sugar is fragrant and is lightly colored. Transfer to a large plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.
3. Peel and fillet the oranges or grapefruits, removing any white pith and seeds. Do this over a bowl to catch all of the juice. You should have about 2 cups (500 g) pulp with juice. Removing all the pith can be tedious, and a quicker though slightly wasteful way of getting all the pulp is to cut the fruit in half and use a grapefruit spoon to scoop it out. Add this to the sugar and stir to combine.
4. Add the rhubarb to the mixture and stir well to combine. If using frozen rhubarb, no need to thaw it first. Cover and let marinate in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.
5. Pour the mixture to a large saucepan. Cover and slowly bring it to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until the rhubarb is soft and start to fall apart, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla sugar, add more if you prefer it sweeter.
6. Transfer to a sterilized jar and let cool, then cover with a lid and refrigerate. Use within a couple of weeks. Or, fill the piping hot compote into a sterilized pint jar with a new unused lid (you will have about ¼ cup compote left over) and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Makes about 2¼ cups
Photos by Ted Rosen