Canning season is starting again!

The rhubarb and strawberries are coming in quickly, and as much as we’d like, we can’t possibly eat enough strawberry-rhubarb pie. So it’s time to fire up the canner and make a strawberry-rhubarb preserve.

Drooling at the mere thought– a way to get the strawberry-rhubarb awesomeness outsside of rhubarb season. Haven’t decided on a recipie yet, but when I pick one, I’ll post and let you know how it worked.

Mmmm, yummy!

In the Garden: Bay Laurel

Bay is well known to any student of Classsics, Mythology, or the culinary arts. An evergreen native to the Mediterranean, It is known to us in the west as one of the chief symbols of Apollo, ever since his pursuit of Daphne.

Illustration of Bay Laurel

Bay Laurel

Bay leaves adorned the heads of victors and Ceasars across the Roman Empire. In Biblical writings, Bay was symbolic of fame and prosperity, and in Christian symbolism, became symbolic of Christ’s Resurrection, and the resultant victory for all humanity.

Bay oil is often extracted and used for fragrance, but the common gardener will be familiar with it as the leaf they add to stews for flavoring, but do not eat. Bay is also often added to pickle jars for similar purpose. Gardeners are also fond of the plant because it is a fond host of the Eastern Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillar, among other catapillars. That said, it’s hardy in USDA zones 8-10, so will mostly be found in the southern parts of the US.

Bay is rarely used medicinally– Pregnant women should avoid the berries as they will cause miscarriage. Oil of Bay can be used externally as a pain reliver, but taking Bay internally in any amounts greater than extracted into stews and pickles tends to make people sick.

[Info from Botanical. com and Wikipedia.]

Halser has Bay associated with the Sun and Moon. In addition, I seem to recall a kitchen witch once associating Bay with Jupiter. I think it was Patricia Telesco, in her book Goddess in my Pocket but, as I haven’t got that availible to me at this time, I can’t check to be sure. But the assocaitions with fame, prosperity, and victory would tend to float in a Jovian direction . . .

Crushed like Grapes

So, I saw one of the re-airings of the Iron Chef Battle:  White House Garden. I love Iron Chef, I love Food Network, and I was vaguely curious as to what the WH Garden looked like, what they had growing, etc. . .

Now, from the ChiTrib (and reading via Michelle Malkin and Ace): The veggies picked weren’t the ones used in Kitchen Stadium. I understand that Kitchen Stadium is in NY, and so for freshness, they really needed fresher veggies. And, granted, they were the same veggies as those picked. But, the whole premise, was that they were cooking and eating the actual WH veggies. That the fennel picked in the garden was used in the salads.

I’m glad they donated the veggies to a local food pantry, so it wasn’t wasted. But it kinda undermines the point of the show, doesn’t it? The point, I thought, was: “See what you can do with your own backyard!”

Despite my general disapproval of most things this administration does, the message of growing one’s own food, of increasing one’s self-sufficiency is clearly one I support. Granted, the garden looked like it was cared for by professional round the clock gardeners. But to find out that they cooked with, essentially, store-bought food just turns the whole thing into Battle: Produce Aisle! Couldn’t Chairman-sama have set up a small, temporary Kitchen Stadium somewhere in DC? Was there no way to use the actual veggies? No way at all?

Understandable, I suppose, but essentially misleading. Everything used in that battle was essentially fake, except the chefs. And Alton Brown (because no matter his politics, he’s the sort of geek we like in the kitchen, or the potions lab). The only truly special thing was the selection of chefs– Two Iron Chefs (Batali and Flay), Emeril Lagasse and Exec. Chef Comerford.

In the Cauldron: Chocolate Covered Apricots

Struck with a craving, and with ingredients that needed using, I made chocolate covered apricots this afternoon. Half a bag of semi-sweet chips, melted with a little cream added to soften. Some apricots. Melt chocolate, dip, let cool. Semi-sweet or dark chocolate is best, since it stands up to the delightful tartness of dried apricots. Likewise, the apricots stand up to the strong flavor of the darker chocolate, where a milk chocolate would be far too sweet.