Some of my favorite conversations have happened in the rhubarb patch. Tonight was with my mother: she pulled stalks into a heap and I hacked each end with a knife, leaving the leaves to smother the weeds.
I filled her in on office politics and she caught me up on her phone call with a cousin. When we were done I went home with a sackful of food that will turn into jam and pie and crunch, goodness that will last through winter.
This is really more like a chutney, a sweet chunky relish that can accompany meat or be poured over cream cheese and served with crackers as an appetizer. Unlike true jam it contains no pectin and although it’s thick, it's not meant to set up like jam.
This recipe grabbed my attention the first time I read through Lucie's recipes, but finding 3 hours to string together while it cooked was a challenge. When I spent a fall afternoon cooking my husband’s birthday dinner, it turned out to be the perfect time to try out the Tomato Jam.
I could watch it while working on other things-- otherwise I’d put it on the stove, take a nap, and scorch the whole thing. And we had tomatoes left over from canning-- not enough for another batch of quart jars, but too many to eat fresh—so everything sort of fell into place.
The toughest part of this recipe was figuring out how to tie up the spices. I thought I had cheesecloth but couldn't find it (of course, I stumbled over it a week later). Your kitchen MacGyver tip of the day: Teabags. Tear them open, dump out the tea, and tie with a bit of string you find in your junk drawer.
Besides that, it was super simple to make. When the jam was finished cooking I didn’t have time to can it up right away due to the birthday feast. Glenn stole some from the pot for his chicken tandoori, with tabbouleh and baba ganouj on the side. He claimed this accidental addition to the meal pulled it all together, and since then it’s been a staple condiment in our kitchen.
Tomato Jam by Irene McFadden, friend of Lucie's
5 lbs. ripe tomatoes
5 cups brown sugar
2 ½ cups cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. whole cloves
1 Tbsp. whole allspice
1 Tbsp. stick cinnamon
3 cups seedless raisins, chopped (I use organic Sunview raisins-- it really makes a difference in taste)
Blanch, peel, and chop tomatoes into 1” chunks. Tie spices in cheesecloth. Place all ingredients except raisins into a large saucepan and boil slowly for 2 hours. Add raisins and boil 1 hour longer. Remove spices, pour into hot jars, screw on lids, and hot water bath for 10 minutes to seal.
These recipes are magic, and this one proves it. I am cursed in the chocolate chip cookies department. No matter what I’ve tried, they come out like flat, crispy pancakes. But this recipe is the first one ever to break the curse. I’m not sure why—at first glance it doesn’t look much different than any other chocolate chip cookies recipe. But tucked into the instructions it calls for dissolving the baking soda first, something I’ve never seen. Is that the trick? Or is it the all-bran? Who knows. But my family is enjoying the change.
Straight from Lucie's collection:
Chocolate Chip Cookies
originally published in the Battle Creek Enquirer & News
½ pound semi sweet chocolate*
¾ cup shortening or softened butter
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbs. hot water
2 ½ cups flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup chopped nutmeats
½ cup all-bran (or wheat bran)
Chop chocolate coarsely. Blend shortening and sugar well. Add eggs and beat. Dissolve soda in hot water and add to mixture. Sift flour with salt. Add flavoring, chocolate, nut meats, and all-bran. Drop on baking sheet and bake 7-10 minutes at 375°.