I picked up making stewed rhubarb because my mom always liked using the rhubarb grown in her garden to make stewed rhubarb and rhubarb chutney. (Ironically, for this post, and often enough, I use rhubarb purchased from the grocery store!)
Note that this recipe effectively needs to be done over two days, or at least with a pause of several hours (roughly equivalent to a minimum of “overnight” ) between preparing the rhubarb, and beginning to stew the rhurbarb.
Note that I also am using the “packing in mason jars and heat-processing” method to preserve the stewed rhubarb, and to allow for the making of larger amounts of stewed rhubarb at once; once the heat-processed jars have cooled, the stewed rhubarb is ready to eat.
Making the Stewed Rhubarb:
After buying some rhubarb at the grocery store, some mise-en-place was done by taking out a cutting board, a mixing bowl, a measuring cup, a kitchen knife, and a kitchen scale:
To avoid confusion a bit later on, the tare weight of the mixing bowl was measured and noted (instead of using the tare function on the kitchen scale):
The rhubarb purchased earlier was taken out (yes, it is a bit shabby!)
The elastics and labels were removed from the rhubarb bunches:
I began to wash and rinse the rhubarb:
The rinsed rhubarb stalks were brought to the cutting board:
The rhubarb stalks were trimmed:
The trimmings were placed in a kitchen waste bucket for later disposal in a municipal composting programme:
If the rhubarb isn’t completely fresh, or especially typical (in my experience) for commercial rhubarb purchased at the grocery store, sometimes there is some minor damage to the stalks to be removed:
The stalk damage was removed (and while my name can be found on my — this — website in several places, I have blacked it out from my knife, on which I had inscribed my name years ago):
The trimmed rhubarb stalks were piled up …
… and the rhubarb stalks were rinsed again to remove the last of the bits:
Some stalks were laid on the cutting board for chopping:
The rhubarb stalks were chopped using a slicing motion against the grain:
As chopped rhubarb started piling up on the chopping board, it was transferred to the mixing bowl:
The rest of the rhubarb was chopped, and transferred to the mixing bowl as it was produced:
The bowl of chopped rhubarb was placed on the kitchen scale and weighed:
The weight was noted, to be used in a moment:
A large pot and wooden mixing spoon were taken out:
The chopped rhubarb was transferred to the pot:
A calculator app was started, and the net weight of chopped rhubarb was calculated by subtracting the bowl tare weight from the weight of the bowl filled with the chopped rhubarb:
Since my recipe is based on the Imperial system, the weight of 0.895kg (above) was converted to pounds, giving a result just barely shy of two pounds of chopped rhubarb:
Next, a multiplication factor for how many “recipe units” was calculated by dividing the weight of the chopped rhubarb by the base amount of three quarters of a pound:
The multiplication factor was multiplied by the required amount of sugar and lemon juice for per “recipe unit” of 3/4 lb of chopped rhubarb: Half a cup of sugar, and half an ounce of lemon juice, resulting in 1-1/3 cups of sugar, and 1-1/3 ounces of lemon juice:
Sugar and a measuring cup were taken out:
Sugar was measured out:
The sugar was poured onto the chopped rhubarb:
The chopped rhubarb and sugar were mixed with the wooden spoon:
Lemon juice was measured out:
Extra sugar was added to the lemon juice:
The lemon juice and extra sugar were mixed:
The lemon juice and sugar mix were added to the chopped rhubarb and sugar:
The chopped rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice were mixed some more:
A lid was placed on the pot of rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice:
The pot of chopped rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice was placed in a fridge overnight:
Early the next morning, I checked on the pot of chopped rhubarb:
As can be sort of be seen above and better in the following photo, a good amount of liquid had been drawn by the sugar from the pieces of chopped rhubarb:
The chopped rhubarb was mixed again with a spoon:
The pot of chopped rhubarb was returned to the fridge until later that evening (after coming home from work.)
That evening, a jar wrench, a jar funnel, tongs, a ladle, and a stainless steel flipper were taken out:
Mason jars, a few more than I expected to need, and new lids and lid rings, were taken out, but kept aside for the moment:
A pot and trivet were taken out, to act as a boiling water bath soon:
The trivet was placed in the bottom of the pot:
The pot was filled with water:
The pot of water was placed on a burner on the stove:
The stove was turned on:
… and the lid was placed back on the pot:
Since I had placed the pot of water on a smaller burner, which proved to be a mistake, I still waited a bit before taking out the pot of chopped rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice, and placing it on the stove:
After waiting a bit more, having gauged the heating up of the pot of water, the burner under the chopped rhubarb mix was turned on:
The lid on the pot of chopped rhubarb mix was removed:
As the rhubarb mix was heating up, I of course mixed it to avoid burning:
The rhubarb mix began to boil:
At this point, the rhubarb mix was taken off the burner, and since the water bath had not yet reached the boiling point, I brought it forward to the larger burner to bring it to a boil more quickly:
Fortunately, it was obvious that the water bath was “hot enough” to dip the (clean) bottle funnel to sanitize it:
The bottle funnel was placed in the neck of a jar:
The ladle was dipped in the hot water to sanitize it:
I started ladling the boiled rhubarb mix into the jar until it was filled:
A lid and ring were brought to the jar, and screwed onto the jar (oops, I forgot to take a picture of this second part):
The rest of the boiled rhubarb mix was transferred into jars, and lids were screwed onto the jars:
At this point, the water in the water bath was finally starting to boil:
Using the jar wrench, the filled jars were transferred to the water bath:
Once the water had come to a rolling boil …
… a timer was set to 15 minutes …
… and the lid was placed back on the pot with the water bath and filled jars:
At this point, the water was boiling so vigorously, that water was splashing out of the pot!
After 15 minutes had elapsed, the filled jars were removed from the water bath using the jar wrench:
The now heat-processed jars were placed on the the cutting board:
Hot water collecting on the jars was soaked up with a towel:
The jars were moved apart from each other to allow for some ambient cooling for a few moments:
Then, the still-warm jars were moved to a fridge to complete cooling.
At this point, I changed tack a bit and printed out some labels for the jars, modifying another label template I have for my pickled eggs:
Scissors, a hole punch, and some elastics were taken out:
Four labels were cut from the sheet:
A date code (in this case for 09 August, 2023, the day I filled and processed the jars) was written on the back / inside of each label:
The labels were folded over onto themselves:
I should note at this point at which the print is more legible, that I live in Montreal, where French predominates, hence the labels are in both English and French. As it happened in the picture above, the folded labels with the English showing were upside down because that’s how I inadvertently happened to flip them over. 🙂
I then picked up the labels, piled them one on another, and crimped the folds:
A hole was punched through the labels on the end opposite to the fold:
On each individual label, the end near the hole was folded over:
Ah here, the English labels are right side up. 🙂
An elastic was threaded through the hole of a label:
The elastic was looped into itself, and loosely tightened to allow for it to at once hold the label, as well as have a loop to use to go around a jar’s neck:
… which was repeated for the other three labels:
The following morning, the cooled (and fully sealed) jars were removed from the fridge, and brought to the workspace where the labels were:
Labels were looped around the jars:
These jars will be kept to be donated to my church’s fall fair, along with a few jars of my pickled eggs! (And, Mom will receive any which don’t sell. 🙂 )
This post is a bit of a gratuitous post to pass the time during my holidays, while showing a bit how I leverage freezers as useful tools for day to day cooking and eating, and highlight how, beyond the strictly obvious (or conversely, as an example of the obvious, whichever you prefer 🙂 ), my cooking efforts actually do fit into and serve everyday life — literally!
Yes, the breakfast shown at the end of this post is a very typical daily breakfast for me these days, barring the days, often on weekends or holidays, when I might choose to make other breakfast foods from my collection of recipes (or of course, something else completely.)
Incidentally, while this page follows the preparation of beer from beer concentrate kits, the process is almost identical for making wine from wine concentrate kits.
The photos shown below cover a period of nine weeks, starting in early March, 2023, through to bottling the beer three weeks later at the very end of March, and taste testing the beer about six weeks after that — nine weeks total — in mid May, 2023. Normally, my “official” answer to “How long does it take to make beer?” is “A minimum of six weeks. Don’t believe the instructions when they say two, or three, or four weeks. Just don’t.” (Wine from kits takes about eight to nine weeks minimum.)
Making the beer:
The following is showing a very detailed progression of making beer using two kinds of beer concentrates, a blonde beer, and a brown ale. The narrative of this page will be primarily following the preparation of the blonde beer.
First, a couple of kinds of beer concentrate kits were purchased, for a brown ale, and for a blonde beer.
Since beer concentrate kits often do not contain fermentable sugars, 1kg bags of dextrose were also purchased at the same time; in this case, about a bag per batch will be used, to produce a bit less than 5% alc/vol given the amount of beer I will be making (although I am not particular at all on this point beyond not wanting the alcohol content to be significantly different either way.)
Having brought the beer concentrates and dextrose home, the first thing I did was take out a beer from a previously brewed batch of beer:
The beer was poured into the glass:
… and the beer was enjoyed:
On to making new beer:
The aerator on the tap in the laundry tub was removed:
A five (imperial) gallon water jug was placed under the tap:
The water was turned on, and the jug filled with water …
While the jug was filling with water, a plastic cloth was laid out on the floor:
A fermentation bin was taken out (incidentally, the original bin I bought back in late 1990 when I started making wine):
A large stirring spoon, pliers, a large spoon, and a can opener, were taken out:
The now-filled water container was brought out to the plastic cloth:
A kettle was filled with water …
… the kettle was plugged in …
… and finally the kettle was turned on:
A jet washer was taken out …
… and the jet washer was attached to the tap in the laundry tub:
The tap was turned on again:
The aforementioned fermentation bin was brought to the laundry tub …
… then the fermentation bin was placed over the jet washer …
… and I used a finger to activate the jet washer to rinse out the (previously cleaned) fermentation bin:
At this point, I took advantage of the moment to jetwash the emptied beer bottle from earlier:
… which was then placed in the dishwasher along with my other dishes, to clean for future bottling purposes (see later on).
Scissors were taken out:
The scissors were used to open a bag of dextrose:
The full contents of a bag of dextrose were poured into the fermentation bin, which was brought back to the plastic cloth:
A can of beer concentrate, for the blonde beer, and the can opener, were taken out.
The plastic top was removed from the can, revealing a yeast packet and the kit’s instructions.
The yeast packet was taken out …
… as were the instructions:
Note that while I generally follow the instructions, I apply my own fine tuned procedures. 🙂
The can opener was used to open the can of beer concentrate:
A spoon was used to remove the top of the can:
… and the top of the can was finally properly removed:
The viscous beer concentrate was poured into the fermentation bin:
The spoon was used to scrape out the rest of the concentrate from the can:
The kettle of water, while still hot, was reboiled, and boiling water was poured into the can:
The hot can was picked up with the pliers …
The hot water was swirled around in the can to dissolved the last of the concentrate from the can walls, and the water was poured out and into the fermentation bin:
The rest of the boiling water was poured into the fermentation bin:
The large plastic stirring spoon was quickly rinsed under the tap at the laundry tub:
The spoon was brought to the fermentation bin:
… and the hot water, beer concentrate, and dextrose were thoroughly mixed:
The plastic tap placed on the water jug was removed:
The water in the jug was poured into the fermentation bin with the other ingredients:
At this point, all the ingredients are called wort (pronounced “wurt”), and the wort was mixed with the big plastic spoon:
The temperature on the thermometer stuck onto the side of the fermentation bin was checked, and the wort temperature had not yet risen come up to fermentation range (one of the temperature ranges would be highlighted were it the case):
Despite this, and knowing that the water temperature was below optimum range, as opposed to too warm and dangerous to yeast, the yeast packet was taken out:
The yeast packet was cut open with scissors:
The yeast was pitched into the wort (ie. sprinkled onto the surface of the unfermented beer):
The wort with the yeast was lightly stirred, in order to moisten the yeast and reactivate it:
A plastic shopping bag — in fact, one of the bags I’d received when the beer kits had been purchased earlier in the afternoon — was taken out:
The bag was partially cut so as to allow it to be used as a cover for the fermentation bin:
Elastics and paper clips were taken out:
Elastics were looped together:
The ends of the looped elastics were joined together with a paper clip to make a “belt”:
The plastic bag was placed on top of the fermentation bin, covering the wort:
The elastic loop was wrapped around the plastic sheet to keep it in place on the top of fermentation bin:
At this point, I had to clear the bar so that I could place the fermentation bin, full of wort, on it:
A chair was placed beside the bar, so as to help in raising the heavy fermentation bin full of wort:
The heavy fermentation bin full of wort was lifted off the floor and onto the chair, in order to allow me to get a better hold on the bin while lifting it up to the level of the bar:
The fermentation bin full of wort was then lifted up to the level of the bar:
… and finally, the fermentation bin full of wort was moved to the end of the bar, against the wall:
The instructions, principally used as piece of paper on which to identify the type of beer in the fermentation bin, were placed within the elastic loop:
The whole process was repeated for the brown ale beer kit, and producing a second identified fermentation bin filled with wort, placed beside the first bin:
Fourteen hours later (the following morning), I peeked into the fermentation bins, and could see signs of the beginnings of fermentation:
That evening, after about 27 hours had passed, the wort temperature was checked again, and it was barely up to 68F:
… and, at the same time, I peeked again at the wort, noticing more yeast growth:
After about 39 hours, I peeked once again at the wort, and the yeast was bubbling away:
After six days, secondary fermentors were taken out; in this case, a large five gallon plastic bottle, a one gallon jar, and, just in case, a soda bottle for last little bits:
The jet washer was again installed on the tap in the laundry tub:
The secondary fermentors were rinsed out with the jet washer:
Racking equipment — items used to transfer the now-fermenting liquid easily — were taken out: Plastic tubing, a stiff plastic racking cane, a cone shaped holder to hold the racking cane (including this item was an oops, since I wouldn’t be needing it on this day), and a clip to hold the plastic tubing in place on the edge of the secondary fermentor:
The racking tubes were rinsed with water:
The secondary fermentors were placed on the floor of the bar next to where the fermenting beer was located:
The racking tube was placed in the fermentation bin with the fermenting beer, and leading all the way down to the floor where the secondary fermentors were placed:
The flow of liquid beer was started by sucking on the end of the flexible section of the racking tubing (avoiding to leave any spit!), which was then secured in the neck of the secondary fermentor using the black clip, allowing for the flow of beer from above down below:
Here is the neck of the racking tube in the fermentation bin, with beer flowing through down to the secondary fermentor:
And here’s a photo of the secondary fermentor as it was filling with fermenting beer:
At a certain point when the secondary fermentor was almost full, foam formed up to the top of the secondary fermentor …
… and the racking tubing was transferred to the gallon jug:
At this point, I should explain that during the primary fermentation, the fermentation was sufficiently vigorous to avoid air getting back in, while during secondary fermentation and the following period during which solids drop to the bottom of the secondary fermentor, the rate of gas production is insufficient to protect the beer from oxidation and contamination from the air outside the fermentor.
Therefore, airlocks, plugs for the secondary fermentors which allow gas — in this case, carbon dioxide produced by the yeast fermenting the dextrose into alcohol — to escape the secondary fermentors while keeping air from getting back in, were taken out:
Airlocks were filled with water:
Water-filled airlocks were fitted onto the now-filled secondary fermentors, which were raised up to the level of the bar:
At the bottom of the fermentation bin, there was a sediment of dead and dying yeast:
The fermentation bin was brought to the laundry tub, and the sediment was drained out:
The fermentation bin was washed and rinsed with the jetwasher and a rag (not shown):
The airlock was already bubbling at this point:
The whole process was repeated for the other beer, the brown ale, and at this point, a second set of identified secondary fermentors filled with beer was placed beside the first set of secondary fermentors:
At this point, sediments had formed in the secondary fermentors:
You should start this now if you haven’t already:
Normally, I have a collection of cleaned and de-labeled beer bottles in storage. Should you not have an adequate number of bottles for bottling your beer — 23 litres requires about 66 or thereabouts 341mL bottles, or equivalent — by now you should begin collecting them.
Normally, I get beer bottles from city streets; as I am walking about in the streets, I am continuously on the lookout for empty beer bottles to reuse for my beer; fortunately for brewers like myself, but in more general terms unfortunately, in the general area where I live, they are far more common and abundant than I might want to admit, and, surprisingly, most are in excellent condition! In the following few pictures, I show the cleaning of larger 1.18 litre bottles, since I use them as well as regular 341 mL bottles for beers I produce sometimes.
Other places to get beer bottles are to buy beer at stores, consume the beer, and then clean the bottles; or, ask friends and family to save beer bottles for you; and, be really nice with the bottle return clerk at the store and politely ask them if you may pay the bottle deposits on empty returned beer bottles.
Hence, an empty bottle was taken out:
The cap was unscrewed from the bottle, and kept:
The bottle was inspected for chips, cracks, and any other defects:
A plastic bucket was partly filled with water for soaking off the labels:
The bottle was placed in the bucket and filled with water …
Once filled, the bottle was turned over (in order to properly soak the label on the neck), and the bucket was almost fully filled with water:
After a while, the label was carefully removed from the bottle:
An old vegetable scraping brush was taken out:
The brush and partially delabeled bottle were brought together …
… and the vestiges of the label were removed …
… including the glue:
Yet again, the jet washer was installed onto the tap in the laundry tub:
… and the bottle’s interior was rinsed with the jet washer:
The bottle’s cap, which for these bottles and cap model can be reused if in good condition, was removed from the soaking water:
The cap was jet washed:
The bottle and cap were placed in the dishwasher with other dishes, to be washed and sanitized before storing for bottling day:
After the dishwasher had been run, the clean bottle was taken out, ready to be stored in anticipation of bottling day:
After three weeks:
On bottling day, clean bottles were taken out to bottle the beer:
The dishwasher had been previously run to clean dishes, and then the clean dishes were all taken out, leaving an empty and clean dishwasher:
Large, 1.18 litre beer bottles were placed in the dishwasher:
Small, 341 mL beer bottles were placed in the lower rack of the dishwasher alongside the larger beer bottles …
… as well in the dishwasher’s upper rack:
The dishwasher racks were rolled into the dishwashwer …
The dishswasher door was closed, and the dial set to start running the dishwashwer (without any soaps):
At this point, with the dishwasher running, I took out another beer and glass:
The beer was poured into the glass:
And the beer was enjoyed:
Various supplies and equipment were taken out for bottling, such as more dextrose to mix into the beer (to carbonate the beer once bottled), a racking tube, a large plastic mixing spoon, a measuring cup, a cone used to hold the racking cane in place in the secondary fermentors, a measuring cup to measure out the dextrose, some bottle caps for the smaller bottles, and the bottle capper for securing the caps on the smaller bottles. Missing: Caps used for larger bottles.
The racking tube and cane were rinsed with water:
The long plastic spoon was rinsed:
The jet washer was installed again:
The original fermentation bin was taken out:
The fermentation bin was rinsed with the jet washer:
The rinsed fermentation bin was brought over to the bar:
Dextrose was measured out:
The dextrose was brought to the fermentation bin:
The dextrose was poured into the fermentation bin:
The conical cane holder was placed on the racking cane:
The airlock was removed from the secondary fermentor whose beer was going to be racked:
The racking cane was carefully placed in the secondary fermentor whose beer was about to be racked:
I sucked a bit on the end of the tubing to start the transfer of the beer from the secondary fermentor …
… which allowed for the beer to be siphoned off and transferred to the primary fermentor with the dextrose, which was on the floor of the bar:
As the beer was transferring to the fermentation bin at floor level, I stirred the beer a bit to dissolve the dextrose:
As the beer was being transferred, the level in the secondary fermentor kept on dropping:
Once the liquid had been fully transferred from the secondary fermentor, I transferred the racking tube to the gallon jug:
… until it too was empty:
The large secondary fermentor was jetwashed …
… as was the gallon jug:
At this point, the original fermentation bin was filled with the beer, and was thoroughly mixed again:
While the beer was still being racked, a section of the bar was cleared again …
… the plastic cloth was placed on the floor beside the cleared section of the bar …
… and the fermentation bin with the beer was raised up to the bar again, with the racking cane and tubing having been placed in the bucket and draping down to floor level:
At this point, the dishwasher had finished operating, so the bottom rack with the large 1.18 litre and some 341 mL bottles were brought downstairs to the bottling area:
Large 1.18 litre bottles were taken out of the rack and stood upright for filling:
The racking tube was primed (flow started) and used to fill bottles one by one:
The clean caps were taken out:
… and the bottles were capped, and moved out of the bottling area. And here is my cat helping out with the beer bottling!
Smaller 341 mL and a single 750 mL bottles were taken out of the dishwasher rack and stood upright for bottling:
The regular-sized beer bottles were filled with the racking tube:
The filled beer bottles were moved out of the filling area as they were filled:
At this point, the level of beer in the fermentation bin had gotten low, however it still contained several bottles of beer:
Also at this point, all the bottles from the lower rack of the dishwasher had been filled with beer:
The upper rack from the dishwasher was brought down to the bottling area:
The rest of the beer was bottled, and the uncapped bottles were placed in beer cases in order to facilitate moving them over to where I capped the bottles:
At this point, I had set up my capping station, and had moved the cases of filled beer bottles there:
My beer bottle capper was taken out, along with a wooden booster to accomodate “modern” beer bottles, which are shorter than the tall bottles for which the capper seems to have been designed:
Uncrimped beer bottle caps were placed on bottles one at a time …
Bottles with caps were placed in the bottle capper, starting with a tall bottle not needing the wooden booster …
… and the plunger was pushed down over the cap, in order to crimp it onto the bottle:
… producing a capped and sealed bottle of beer:
The wooden booster was placed back on the base of the capper:
The bottles of beer were all capped:
A permanent marker was taken out:
The tops of the bottles were identified, in this case with “BL” for the blonde beer, and 2023 … for the year 2023. 🙂
The bottles were placed back in beer cases:
Here are all the bottles of beer of the blonde beer:
The bottling process was repeated for the brown ale:
After nine weeks:
Of course, the beer had to be taste tested, so a bottle of the blonde beer, as well as a glass, were taken out:
The bottle was held up to the light of a window to check that it had cleared on its own:
The blonde beer was poured into the glass …
… and the beer was enjoyed:
The beer is now ready to be consumed on … well, poor weather postponed the Canada Day festivities where I live, so it will be ready when Canada Day is rescheduled!
www.malak.ca is hosted by myself on an old desktop computer in my bedroom, using my home internet connection. The general specs are:
Dell Vostro 420 Series (64bits) — BIOS date of October 24, 2008
Intel(R) Core(TM) 2 Quad CPU @ 2.66GHz (with hyperthreading), with a clock speed of 333MHz; L1d cache 128KiB (4 instances); L1i cache 128KiB (4 instances); L2 cache 6MiB
8GB (4 x 2GB) memory, clock speed 800MHz
HD: 240GB SSD (OS and blog)
External USB hard drive: 1TB (static website data and other stuff)
Currently, it is running Fedora Linux version 37 Workstation Edition. Using the Server Edition for such a small, home-grown vanity project seemed unnecessary given a comfort level with the Workstation Edition and, since at its core, the two editions are subsets of the same OS. Ultimately, missing packages from one edition compared to the other are a “dnf install” command away. (As for a longer-term distro, I have always been a Red Hat user, so Debian or an Ubuntu LTS release aren’t interesting to me, while the new community respins of RHEL have neither captured my imagination, nor do they hold sufficient appeal anymore on a technical level.) Hence, I started from the Edition with which I and my brother (the technical heavy-lifter) are familiar, which allows for the (admittedly rare) use of a GUI as needed.
The filesystems are with ext4 on the boot partition of the SSD, as well as on the external USB hard drive; I use ext4 because I’m used to it, but can’t truly say I know, or can recommend, one filesystem from or over the next. UPDATE: I checked the filesystems and … the boot partition is ext4, and the SSD’s data portion seems to have defaulted to BTRFS; there you go, proof I don’t know much about the differences between various filesystems and their comparative advantages and disadvantages. 🙂
But to wit, since hosting www.malak.ca myself, it has always been on my home internet service, a DSL line with a (now-)paltry 6.05MBit-ish down and, what, 0.67MBit-ish up capacity, which for reasons beyond the scope of this post had not been upgraded for (best I can remember) over 20 years.
Time marching on and the increase of devices in the household meant that while still minimally usable and just functional, the internet connection regularly became inadequate for daily use, and barely usable for things like weekly simultaneous videoconferences (and with slightly-more-than-tacit rules of “no other internet usage during said weekly dual videoconferences” and the like.) The slow internet access, especially the slow uplink, affected a blogging project started in late 2020 showing pictures of the preparation of my recipes from my collection by limiting photo sizes not only as a good idea for reasons of netiquette, page layout and formatting, but as an outright necessity given the limited upload capacity (thank you WordPress for lazy-loading!)
Well, last week we finally upgraded the internet package to cable with 120MBit down and 20MBit up. Interestingly, we had had a cable modem for a few years in the late 1990’s until it became quite unusable and made a switch to DSL; as a side note, a box, some equipment inside it, and some cable wiring from that period were still attached to the outside of the house, not having been removed at the time, and were still compatible and usable when we got the install last week.
As such, www.malak.ca now has decent upload speeds!
This is a relatively new addition to my collection of recipes, after having looked through an old community cookbook given to me by a neighbour. It is based on a near-identical recipe obviously (and expressly) intended to use up leftovers from a roast pork Sunday dinner; however, after trying the original recipe, which called for the use of brown sugar and apple slices, I decided to omit the sugar, which made the dish too sweet, and the apples, which didn’t suit us, and replaced them with cooked carrots.
This cooking session occurred in early April, 2023; for a variety of reasons, including the sheer number of photos to organize and prepare for this post — I went into overdrive! — it has taken a bit more than three weeks for me to build this blog post. Also, for the sake of the narrative, the photo progression presented here occasionally differs from the precise progression of when the photos were taken, either because of some mise-en-place activities, actual progression of the food preparation, photo shooting (and occasionally its impact on progression), several operations occurring concurrently, and the like.
Preparing the dish:
Firstly, a countertop convection oven was turned on:
A roasting tray was taken out:
A package of (frozen) pork loin, defrosted prior to the cooking session, was taken out:
Scissors were taken out to open the vacuum pack sealing the pork:
The pork loin’s vacuum pack was cut open:
The pork loin, removed from the vacuum pack, was placed in the roasting tray:
Garlic salt was taken out:
Garlic salt was liberally shaken on top of the pork loin:
The pork loin was placed in the countertop convection oven:
A timer was set for an hour as a reminder for how long to cook the pork loin:
A pot was taken out for boiling carrots:
A scale was taken out to know roughly measure out the right amount of carrot:
Carrots were taken out:
About a quarter pound of carrot — in this case, a single carrot — was taken out of the bag:
The carrot was cleaned and rinsed:
The cleaned carrot was placed on a cutting board:
The carrot was trimmed:
The carrot was sliced lengthwise:
… and again sliced a few more times to make carrot spears:
The carrot spears were chopped:
The chopped carrots were transferred to the pot:
Water was added to the pot of chopped carrots until the carrots were covered:
Salt was added to the carrots and water:
A stove burner was turned on:
The carrots were brought to a boil …
Once the carrots were boiled for about ten minutes, the boiling water was drained off:
A mixing bowl was taken out in which to transfer the carrots:
The boiled carrots were transferred to the mixing bowl:
The carrots were put aside for a bit.
A microwave-safe cooking vessel was taken out, ready for a few moments later when the sweet potatoes would be peeled:
A bowl was placed on the scale, and the scale set to zero:
A bit more than four pounds of sweet potatoes were measured out:
A potato peeler was taken out:
The sweet potatoes were peeled, with the peels placed in a bucket to keep for later disposal in a municipal composting programme:
Peeled sweet potatoes were placed in the microwave-safe cooking vessel:
A kitchen knife was taken out:
The sweet potatoes were sliced and quartered:
… and placed back in the microwave-safe cooking vessel:
Water was added to the cooking vessel …
… to about a bit below the surface of the sweet potatoes:
The vessel was covered …
… and placed in the microwave oven:
The microwave oven (1200 watts) was set to 18 minutes:
… and the microwave oven was turned on:
While the sweet potatoes were cooking, a package of dried gravy mix — turkey gravy, which is what I had on hand, and in a package that makes a cup’s worth of gravy, as called for in the recipe, was taken out:
The gravy packet was opened and its contents transferred to another pot that was taken out:
A measuring cup was taken out:
A cup of water was measured out:
The water was added to the pot:
The gravy mix and water were mixed with a spoon:
The gravy was put aside, since the time on the roast pork ran out:
A meat thermometer was taken out …
… and stuck into the pork, giving a temperature reading just right for fully cooked pork:
The pork was removed from the roasting pan:
… and the juices in the roasting pan were drained into the bowl with the cooked carrots
The roast pork was sliced thickly:
The roast pork was cut into cubes:
A small blender with chopping blades was taken out …
… and the blender was plugged in:
Cubes of roast pork were placed in the blender …
… and the lid placed on top of the blender:
The pork was ground finely without creating a mush:
The chopped pork was transferred to the bowl with the cooked carrots and pork juices:
Larger bits of pork which did not get ground finely enough were removed from the bowl, to be ground again with more pork cubes:
The rest of the pork was ground and transferred to the mixing bowl.
Returning to the gravy, a burner on the stove was turned on, in this case, the smaller inner part of a larger burner which has two settings:
The gravy was constantly mixed while being heated, to avoid burning:
Once the gravy came to a boil, the timer was set to a minute …
… while the burner setting was reduced to just about minimum to only allow for simmering:
Once the minute ran out, the gravy was poured over the ground pork and carrots:
The gravy, ground pork, and carrots were mixed with the spoon:
At this point, oven-proof dishes were taken out, for filling:
The meat mix was spooned into containers to about half full, and spread out evenly:
At this point, I came back to the sweet potatoes, which had long since finished cooking in the microwave oven:
The sweet potatoes were checked with a fork to see if they were properly cooked through, which they were:
The water was drained off of the sweet potatoes:
A container of margarine was taken out and opened:
A dollop of margarine was taken from the margarine container with a spoon:
The margarine was added to the sweet potatoes:
A measuring cup and milk were taken out:
Milk was measured out:
The milk was added to the sweet potatoes and margarine:
Measuring spoons were taken out:
Salt was taken out:
Salt was measured out:
The salt was added to the sweet potatoes:
An electric mixer was taken out, to mash the sweet potatoes:
The electric mixer was plugged in:
The sweet potatoes were mashed with the electric mixer:
A plastic icing spreader was taken out:
Mashed sweet potatoes were picked up with the icing spreader …
… and, back to the containers with the pork, gravy, and carrots mix, the mashed sweet potatoes were spread on top of the meat mix :
Plastic bags were taken out and identified and dated:
The dishes were placed in the individual bags:
And finally, the bagged dishes were placed in the freezer:
I bought a food dehydrator in early 1997 while I was still involved as an adult member in Scouting, and began by drying (mostly) various fruits for Scout Troop camping trips; Troop members were eager to test out the results of my efforts. While I am no longer involved in Scouting, I have continued drying fruits; I quickly decided that my favourite by far was dried pineapple, which comes out like candy to me.
A short overview of my very early experiences with drying food, from a Scouting perspective, is at what would have been a blog back in the late 1990’s before blogs were a thing at https://www.malak.ca/super.html#dried.
Drying the pineapples:
I keep an eye out for sales on pineapples, and brought home six pineapples last week:
I brought my cutting board, knife, and corer down to the bar area downstairs, where I normally do my fruit drying:
A bucket for the compostable trimmings was also set out:
My food dehydrator was of course taken out, with all its extra trays …
… and the unit was plugged into an extension cord caddy that was plugged into an outlet in an adjoining room, since the bar has an old outlet that doesn’t accept polarized plugs:
The food dehydrator was set to 135F for drying fruits and vegetables:
Now to the pineapples: The labels and their plastic tags were removed from the pineapples:
A pineapple was placed on its side in order to trim off the top:
The top of the pineapple was sliced off:
The top of the pineapple was placed in the scraps bucket:
The pineapple was rotated so as to slice off the bottom:
The bottom of the pineapple was placed in the scraps bucket:
The pineapple is now ready for the rest of the trimming:
I started trimming the skin off the pineapple:
As part of trimming the skin off the pineapple, sometimes the bottoms have to be trimmed too because of the somewhat rounded shape of pineapples, making it tricky sometimes to trim off the skin in full slices:
The trimmed pineapple skins …
… were placed in the scraps bucket:
The trimmed pineapple was again placed on its side …
… and sliced into two halves roughly at its centre, essentially to accommodate the length of my corer, although the resulting slices tend to be of a convenient size as well:
An apple corer was used to remove the pineapple cores:
I began slicing pieces off the cored pineapple half, roughly two milimetres thick:
The slices were placed on a drying tray:
More slices were sliced off the pineapple, to about half of the pineapple half:
… until the tray was filled:
The filled tray was placed on the food dehydrator base:
The top of the dehydrator was placed on the tray:
Oh and here’s my cat to help me out:
I continued trimming and slicing the pineapples, filling twelve trays; as can be surmised from the following picture, in 2012, I added an additional eight trays to the original four I’d bought in 1997!)
The twelve trays were filled with a bit more than four and a half of the pineapples I’d purchased, leaving at this point a little less than one and a half pineapples to slice up later as the slices in the dehydrator dried and made space:
At this point, the breaker on the extension cord carrying case decided to trip (in my experience, unusual for a single device with a peak draw of only about 550 watts, although I do suspect that the caddy does have a lower trip level than a normal household circuit breaker):
Quickly, a new extension cord was taken out:
… which was plugged into an outlet, and the dehydrator plugged into the new extension cord:
Back to the pineapples, the scraps were placed in the scrap bucket, which was ultimately emptied into my municipal compostable waste bin:
At this point, Mom asked for some mashed pineapple, and got a total of six containers, which were placed in the freezer:
After about six hours, here’s what a tray of partly dried pineapple slices looked like, including the size shrinkage:
The partly dried pineapple slices were shifted around to make space:
After space was made on all the trays, four trays were emptied:
… and the first few pineapple slices dried to my liking were removed from the trays. Allowed to completely dry, pineapple will become crispy like potato chips; I like dried pineapple that is still a bit chewy and flexible, while there is still a very small amount of humidity left in the slices. As such, I remove slices when they have a leathery feel, and after the surface of the slices are no longer sticky.
A zipper style sandwich bag was taken out to store the dried pineapple:
… and the dried pineapple slices were stacked and placed in the bag:
At this point — seven hours in — I finished slicing the rest of the pineapples, spread them on a couple of the emptied trays, and inserted the filled trays back in the dehydrator stack, for a total of ten trays:
After nine hours, here’s what the pineapple looked like:
… and a few more slices of dried pineapple were taken out for bagging:
… and my dehydrator was down to seven trays after nine hours:
After twelve hours, the dehydrator was checked again:
… and more dried pineapple was taken out after twelve hours:
… and stacked for bagging:
… and bagged:
… and after all the shifting around and bagging, I was down to five trays in the dehydrator:
At this point, I had gone to bed, but I woke up after a couple of hours at midnight, and checked on the dehydrator, shifting pineapple slices around and removing dried sliced pineapple. Here’s the bagged cumulative production after fourteen hours:
… and I was down to four trays after fourteen hours:
Finally, after seventeen hours — in this case, three in the morning! (yes, I had set my alarm) — I emptied the dehydrator and bagged the last of the dried pineapple slices, for a total of five bags of dried pineapple slices, from a bit over five pineapples:
After a couple of days, I started eating the dried pineapple — yes, like a kid in a candy shop! 🙂
I picked up making omelettes for Mom a few months ago out of the blue, because they’re easy to make, and Mom seemed to appreciate them right off the bat. As of this post’s writing, I don’t have a formal recipe written up, but I imagine I could soon; hence for the moment, this post *is* the recipe.
Making the omelette:
I normally keep ground ham in the freezer, divided into serving sizes in small containers, so I took some out, about 15g to 20g (about half to three quarters of an ounce):
Should you not have ground ham on hand, here’s how I make the ground ham:
Deli-style sliced “old-fashioned smoked ham”, in this case purchased at the grocery store in the pre-packaged deli meats counter, was taken out:
… and a coffee grinder was taken out:
The package was opened up, and a couple of slices of ham were placed in the coffee grinder …
… the coffee grinder was closed …
… and the ham was coarsely ground (though not turned to mush!) a few pulses at a time:
(… and, the rest of the ham in the package was similarly ground and placed in a couple of containers, divided up into individual serving sizes, and frozen.)
The frozen ham taken out earlier was placed in the microwave oven to defrost it:
… and the microwave oven (1100 watts) was set to about 30 seconds, just enough to mostly defrost the ham:
The microwave oven was turned on:
Finally, the defrosted chopped ham was broken up with a fork:
The chopped ham was put aside for a few moments.
Again, normally, I keep cheddar cheese sliced off the block in the fridge, so I took some out:
Should you not have sliced cheese on hand, here’s how I slice the cheese: A block of cheddar cheese and a cheese slicer in the form of a slotted lifter, where were the slot has an edge intended for slicing the likes of cheese off of a block, were taken out; normally we like mild cheddar, but you can choose any kind of cheese you like that will slice, shred, or crumble nicely:
The block of cheese was unwrapped:
Cheese was sliced off the block:
… and as the cheese was sliced, it was placed in a container:
The cheese slices which were produced for this demonstration were put away in the fridge, while the cheese slices taken out earlier were put aside on the counter for a few moments.
Back to the omelette, a mixing bowl was taken out:
Two eggs were taken out:
Two eggs were cracked in the mixing bowl:
Milk was taken out, and about an ounce of milk was measured out:
The milk was added to the eggs:
A bit of salt was added to the eggs and milk:
The mixture was beaten with a fork:
For this amount of egg mixture, I use a 6 inch / 15 centimetre non-stick frypan:
Also, an aluminum pie plate was taken out:
The stove was turned on to a low setting, but, crucially, given that I was using a larger burner and that this burner can be set to only use a smaller, inner circle, I should have only set it to that smaller, inner circle.
Cooking oil, in this case olive oil, was taken out and added to the frypan:
The olive oil was spread over the cooking surface of the frypan:
The beaten egg mixture was poured into the frypan:
The aluminum pie plate was placed over the frypan as a means to cook the top of the egg mixture somewhat more quickly:
A few slices of the cheese was taken out of the container, about enough just to cover half the surface of the omelette, twice, with a not too thick layer of cheese, especially since there will be two layers (see below):
The aluminum pie plate was taken off the frypan, revealing that the egg mixture was cooking through:
About half the cheese slices were placed on half of the omelette (in this case, on the left hand half of the omelette!):
The ground ham was spread over the cheese on the omelette:
The rest of the cheese slices were placed on top of the ground ham:
The aluminum pie plate was again placed on top of the frypan, in order to help melt the cheese and warm the ham:
A few moments later, the pie plate was removed, and half the omelette was flipped over onto the other half:
A bit of water was drawn from a tap and into a glass …
Some water was poured into the frypan, in order to create some steam:
The aluminum pie plate was again placed on top of the frypan to capture the steam to continue cooking the omelette:
The aluminum pie plate was again removed from the frypan, and the omelette cut in two:
At this point, the two halves were quickly turned over (oops, I forgot to take a picture) and cooked for another very small moment.
Half the omelette was served on a plate for Mom to have right away, and the other half was placed in a container to place in the fridge, for Mom to have at a later time:
Ketchup was added, and the omelette was served to Mom:
To my pleasure, Mom yet again found it to be tasty!
This is a quick note (mostly to myself) to say that the computer hosting www.malak.ca — the website hosting this blog — has been switched out and replaced.
Last night, I was able to access the site normally and remotely while out to dinner at the home of some friends. This morning, in trying to ssh into the machine to do a routine manual software update, the connection kept timing out and disconnecting. Some quick diagnostics along the lines of “is the machine plugged in?” and a few reboots to watch was what happening — about as much as it would allow me to do, in fact — revealed that for reasons unknown, it was rebooting, going through a grub page, booting up, showing the Fedora logo, and, after the logo disappeared but before the login prompt appeared, a bios message came on the screen indicating a signal loss, and a reboot would begin again.
I tried a few past kernels in the grub menu, including the rescue kernel, and checking the bios, to no avail. Bringing up the text display of what was going on during the bootup was hard to access since I was scratching my head wondering “What’s the keystroke to do that again?”; same for getting the console. No matter, other things needed attending to in the moment, and I moved on.
Fortunately, my brother-in-the-know was coming within the hour, and I sent him some messages about it. He offered to bring an old junk-computer-which-wasn’t-quite-junk-yet I had given to him a while back and which he wasn’t using, at least not yet. After describing the problem to him and offering my rough diagnosis — either there was a corruption somewhere in the software, causing the reboots, or, during the reboots software commands invoke a (presumably faulty due to old age) physical hardware system or circuit, which caused a problem leading to the reboots — both of which, particularly the latter, he thought may have had merit.
My brother brought the old machine. Before installing anything, he first checked the OS SSD from the server (which also contains this blog’s database) in a USB caddy, then he checked the external data drive holding the rest of the static website and my backups, again by USB. Data on both units were in good condition. We finally went straight to replacing the machine by transferring the SSD and external drive to the new old machine, and here I am typing up this memo to myself.
The machine’s specs?
Dell Vostro 420 series; 8.0 GiB; Intel Core2 Quad Q9400 x 4; Mesa Intel G45/G43 (ELK) video card, with lots of USB ports, a networking card, and other things many people including myself take for granted.
And since the 240.1 GB SSD is the drive from the previous machine, it is still running the same instance of Fedora and the LAMP stack with WordPress, suffice it to say that I’m up to Fedora Linux 37 (Workstation Edition) 64-bit on it, and running up to date LAMP and WordPress software.
In fact, as I am finishing up this post, the machine is being updated!
In mid-2006, my employer at the time was acquired by another company, and my new employers required me – rightfully so – to take some basic training that I should have taken several years earlier. The training was after work hours, two evenings a week, for a few weeks.
Normally, my eating habits were (and still are) such that a given day’s lunch was composed of leftovers from the previous evening’s supper; in fact, normally supper meal plans at the time and still to this day usually intentionally include cooking for one more serving than the meal would call for, so that I would have a lunch the following day.
The training course, however, had the effect of not only requiring me to improvise for my supper plans, such as eating fast food, but also required me to improvise for the following day’s lunch too. My memory of this period is that there was a snowball effect on much of the week’s meals, although it probably was not quite as dramatic as what my mind has woven into my memory.
One of the solutions I came up with — but never quite fully implemented at the time — was the idea of a cooking weekend, targeted at being done at the cottage. My ambition at that point was to stock the freezer with a variety, as well as a large stock, of dishes and prepared meals, including lunches, so that the above situation wouldn’t be a problem moving forward. I had notions that were fairly ambitious, both in terms of the variety of meals to be made during the weekend, as well as the sheer amount of food that I suppose I expected to make over such a hypothetical weekend.
I developed the following planning table:
As can be seen, one of the goals was to make a number of dishes based on a common ingredient, my spaghetti sauce, which I had begun making in the early 1990’s.
As also can be seen, although there were a few numbers of dishes to produce, overall the list is rather vague in what I would end up with in terms of numbers. Among other things, while I did have rough ideas of how much of most of the items I would make (or at least envisioned making), for instance, I didn’t start planning out the required amounts of each of the ingredients and sub-ingredients needed to make the dishes and components.
Overall, it seemed — and still seems to this day — rather vague and all over the place, and overly ambitious to the point of being daunting. Critically, although I knew that I would be making about seven to eight quarts of my spaghetti sauce, I didn’t plan out its ingredients, determine just how many of each of the other dishes for which it would be used would be produced from the seven to eight quarts, or whether some of the “larger” dishes were to be prepared for their own sake and the freezer, or to be ultimately cooked and divided up into lunch containers. Except as an afterthought, I just about didn’t even insert the making of the spaghetti sauce into the weekend’s already ambitious cooking plans!
Before coming to this last realization, I realized that my plan would only produce two or three servings’ or meals’ worth of each, which might all be eaten in short order.
Unsurprisingly, the planned weekend was never executed, and after a few weeks, my evenings freed up, and my regular lunches returned.
Years later, I realized despite the usefulness of the intentions behind my plans for the cooking weekend, at least for me, it suffered from not only being too ambitious in its own right, but from being even more ambitious than I thought. At the same time, the overall plan suffered from being a bit too wide in its intended scope given what would be a limited amount of base (the spaghetti sauce). As such, the plan was likely to produce — should I accomplish it all in such a weekend — merely an amount of food, especially the lunches, that would be consumed far more quickly than I had hoped.
My spaghetti sauce — and what I do now for tomato sauce based dishes
My spaghetti sauce was a bit of a marathon sauce to make. Based on canned tomatoes, it also included an inordinate variety and amount of chopped vegetables for a spaghetti sauce, and — especially the end product — was not unlike my current vegetable soup recipe, which I have been making since about 2013. I had a prideful joy in making it, partly as a result of it being so chock-full of vegetables, but, to a degree than I didn’t care to admit at the time, also borne of a stubborn pride resulting from it being a showcase of all the vegetables it contained and a desire to show off a certain (naïve) cooking acumen.
However, one of the things I realized in looking at my big cooking weekend, both early on without realizing it, as well as more formally just recently, was that I just wanted to make, say, lasagna, chilli, beef rolls, pasta dishes, or my eggplant dish (as well as a few lunches not involving my sauce). The “without realizing it” part (early on) was overshadowed by the prideful notion that it made sense at the time to want to use my spaghetti sauce to then make all these other dishes.
Except … I have come to realize that the effort to make the sauce to begin with, as well as my pride in wanting to use it, was perhaps core to the difficulty in implementing the cooking weekend. While the dishes were meant to be a showcase to myself for my spaghetti sauce and as well as my cooking in general, I realized that all these dishes were about showcasing the whole dishes, and not so much meant to showcase my spaghetti sauce.
As such, for a long time now, many of the tomato sauce dishes I make call for commercially prepared tomato / spaghetti sauces, as opposed to, specifically, my home-made sauce.
(As a side thought, were to I make spaghetti sauce again, I have a few vague notions about simplifying it somewhat, as well as chopping the vegetables much more finely, to the point of grinding them, instead of the coarse chopping I favoured for the “sauce” in the 1990’s.)
How things have evolved to today:
Despite the fact that the above weekend plan never materialized, I soon took to often planning cooking weekends when I went to the cottage, especially during the off-season (it’s a family cottage, so there always have been occasional scheduling issues which haven’t always allowed me to do what I would like, when I would like. 🙂 )
However, the first thing that should be mentioned, since this post is at least partly predicated on a period of time in which having ready-made lunches handily available in the freezer was essential, but was not the case, is that … I haven’t since planned out cooking weekends dedicated to cooking ready-made lunches for the freezer, or form a cooking club with a few friends in which we fastidiously make a week’s worth (or more) of lunches and other meals every Saturday, or otherwise come up with a systematic method of stocking the freezer with ready-made lunches.
In the intervening years, the principal approach I have taken to rectify unforeseen needs for prepared lunches is to hoard lunches and leftovers in the freezer; in addition to routinely making extra food for the following day’s lunch, I would occasionally also, at random opportunities, zealously make an extra lunch to place in the freezer. As such, my supply of extra lunches at any given time ebbs and swells according to how many lunches I have managed to hoard at that point in time, versus how many I have needed to eat recently. Fortunately, some of my recipes somewhat ease mounting full lunches in the freezer by being pair-able with odds-and-ends leftovers, such as bacon wrapped chicken, meatballs, and stuffed potato skins.
What I do do is plan “big” cooking weekends many times while I am up at the cottage, including quite often during the off season in winter, incidentally without running water. This is done in conjunction with weekend afternoons in the city with similar objectives (including a cook-through-my-collection-of-recipes project I did mostly in 2021, accessible off my home page at https://www.malak.ca ). Depending on my desires and ambitions, I usually concentrate on single projects, per day anyway; during a week over Christmas to New Year’s, for instance, I usually plan for almost as many large cooking projects as there are days – to cook various large cooking projects to fill the freezer.
I had begun large, more focused, cooking weekends not too long after my above planned weekend should have taken place, continuing a certain tradition I had started years earlier of occasionally making large quantities of my recipes, from a then-limited recipe répertoire, typically focusing on large freezer quantities of one, or perhaps two, recipes from my collection.
Therefore, early on — at this point, exactly “when” being lost to the sands of time and the multiple computer upgrades over the years, during which dates of creation, or at least the last edit, have been lost several times over — I had put the following list together. I tried to write down what my aims and guidelines had become. Note that the text of the list has been slightly edited to fit the current narrative:
A dish needs to be just as easy to make several units of the recipe as one unit – if not easier, and as such not more difficult to make because it’s in quantity (barring the extra time and labour merely due to extra quantity – taking advantage of economies of scale);
A dish needs to be easy to make in large quantities, using a repetitive production line process;
A dish must be appropriate for freezing – for instance, my zucchini dish is not appropriate for freezing, although its sauce is appropriate for freezing!
A dish should be something that just needs to be defrosted and reheated / cooked in toaster oven or regular oven;
A dish should be “convenience food” — the operative notion being “convenient because it’s made in advance and ready to eat” (or brown and serve), not as in “junk food” or like industrially produced, store bought frozen lunches;
A dish should not be something at its core easy enough to make any day of the week fresh (looking back, I suppose that this is barring a notion to make multiple units of otherwise easy to make lunches to stock the freezer, were that have been a priority at the time);
A cooking project should not just be components for other dishes – ie. projects should be to make full meals, not just cooked hamburgers or burger meat, nor just cooked chicken pieces, etc.
Given that over the years, my objectives have evolved, changed, and widened, I have long since abandoned at least a part of the guideline regarding making meal components or single items, because I now regularly cook large quantities of breakfast sausages for freezing, have in the past cooked whole packages or more of bacon for my mom, and I regularly make bacon wrapped chicken, meatloaf, meatballs, stuffed potato skins, as well as cooked ground beef frozen in ice cube trays to keep in the freezer for other times calling for small amounts of cooked ground beef.
Of course, it would only be appropriate to show a recent planning table for a week’s stay at the cottage over Christmas , 2021 (regular meal planning blocked out):
Yes, there are still a lot of details missing here from this list, such as specific numbers, arguably allowing for somebody besides myself to look at both lists and wonder, beyond the more relaxed pace and the specific list of foods and ingredients to bring, what the difference between this 2021 table and the 2006 table are. However, each entry is based on, normally, the standard amounts in my various recipes, plus often slight excesses. And, according to my notes, I also made stuffed potato skins, bran muffins for my mom twice instead of once, and the chocolate buttercrunch twice, as well as, as intimated in the “bring” list, a container of cheese sliced off of the block for my mom to consume the following week.
These days, my freezers are usually full of many tasty dishes from my collection of recipes, individual servings of many foods both from and beyond my collection of recipes, and various lunches made up of leftovers, some consisting of components from multiple meals and cooking sessions. This is actually served by a certain hoarding instinct; I often fill containers with bits of leftovers from a given meal to freeze, and as possible I add to them with other little bits already in the freezer as they are produced.
And … do I run out of lunches? Usually not! However … managing the freezer is a work in progress and a continuous project, sometimes a daily project beyond simply preparing tomorrows lunch; I sometimes grab opportunities to make a second lunch or portion thereof!
My mom has been making a rhubarb chutney (of the British variety, not the Indian variety) since I was young, and she has loved it as long as I remember. Every year, she would harvest the rhubarb growing in her garden and make at least one batch per season, or two, or even three, depending on the yield.
I have been saying for years that I should learn how to make the chutney for her, although it has taken until this year before I finally consulted her recipe card and notes. The recipe I present here is adapted from (and very closely tracks) the recipe on my mom’s recipe card with several years’ worth of notes. The recipe on the card, if my recollection of her stories is accurate, is apparently derived from a recipe developed by her church ladies’ group in the early 1980’s, and which was possibly assigned to her after one of their canning sessions with a request to make some at home for an upcoming fall bazaar’s preserves’ table. It also incidentally is identical in ingredients and comparable in amounts to a recipe found on the internet for a barbecue sauce … so go figure.
Mom eats it as a condiment to various dishes, such as roast pork, chicken pot pies, shepherd’s pies, and many other dishes … basically, despite its sweet nature, it is also savoury, and pairs well with a number of savoury dishes.
Making the rhubarb chutney:
First, I took out two groupings of commercially grown rhubarb, in this case, about nine stalks each:
The individual stalks of rhubarb were washed:
The rhubarb stalks were trimmed of their ends, leaves, and as the case may be, torn or damaged parts:
A non-reactive stainless steel pot (yes, there are some cheap stainless steel pots which will react with acid contents!) was taken out, and put to the ready beside the cutting board:
The rhubarb was sliced into 1/4″ to 1/2″ slices:
The chopped rhubarb was transferred to the stainless steel pot as sufficient amounts accumulated on the chopping board:
Once all the rhubarb was chopped and transferred to the pot, to be sure of the amount of rhubarb I had chopped was enough for the recipe, I measured it out …
… and placed it in a bowl:
Once measured out, the rhubarb was placed back in the stainless steel pot.
Next, packed brown sugar was measured out:
The brown sugar was added to the chopped rhubarb:
The chopped rhubarb and brown sugar were mixed with a wooden spoon:
The chopped rhubarb and brown sugar mix was covered with the stainless steel pot lid:
The stainless steel pot with the rhubarb and brown sugar mix was placed in the refrigerator overnight:
Onions were taken out:
The onions were trimmed:
The onions were sliced into half-coins:
The onions were coarsely chopped:
The onions were transferred to a measuring cup to keep track of how much onions I had:
The chopped onions were transferred to a sealable container:
The container of onions was covered and placed in the fridge until the next day.
The next day, the first thing done was to fill a pot with water, for use later as a boiling water bath for the mason jars used to bottle the chutney:
A burner on the stove was turned on:
The pot of water was placed on the stove to bring it to a boil:
The pot of rhubarb and brown sugar was taken out of the fridge:
Another burner on the stove was turned on:
The pot of rhubarb and brown sugar was placed on the stove:
As the mix began heating up, it was mixed to loosen some brown sugar at the bottom of the pot:
Throughout the following process, the mix was constantly stirred in order to avoid burning at the bottom of the pot.
The chopped onions were added to the pot:
The ingredients were mixed together:
Vinegar was measured out:
The vinegar was added to the pot:
The ingredients were yet again mixed together:
Raisins were measured out:
The raisins were placed in a small blender, to coarsely chop them:
The raisins were chopped:
The chopped raisins were added to the pot:
The raisins were mixed in with the rest of the ingredients.
Ground cloves were measured out:
The ground cloves were added to the pot:
Ground cinnamon was measured out:
The ground cinnamon was added to the pot; as evidenced by the rising steam, the ingredients were heating up nicely:
Ground allspice was measured out:
The ground allspice was added to the pot:
At this point, the chutney was starting to boil, and, for reference, two hours was set on the stove timer (because the original recipe called for two hours of simmering):
The stove burner was turned down to a low setting:
The ingredients were constantly stirred in order to avoid burning and sticking on the bottom of the pot:
After about half an hour of simmering …
… this is what the chutney looked like:
At this point, the pot of water for sanitizing the jars came to a boil and its burner turned off:
After about an hour of simmering …
… this is what the chutney looked like, and was at the point of being syrupy:
As such, I knew I wasn’t going to need to continue simmering the chutney for another hour.
Canning tools were taken out: a ladle, a jar funnel, tongs, a large spoon, and a jar wrench:
Mason jars, rings, and lids were taken out — and yes, I used good condition used lids for this batch, since I had no intention of giving away any of the jars:
The water for the water bath was brought back to a boil, and mason jars were placed in the boiling water:
The canning funnel was quickly dipped in the boiling water to sanitize it:
Unfortunately, at this point, I could not take as many photos, in order to quickly fill the jars while the chutney and jars were still hot, and create a proper seal with the lids.
The chutney was taken off the stove; a mason jar was taken out of the boiling water, and the jar was filled with chutney:
A mason jar lid and ring were dipped in the boiling water:
The lid and ring were placed on the mason jar and the ring tightened.
The process was repeated until all the chutney was bottled, in this case, filling seven jars:
The jars were placed in the fridge to cool down a little more quickly:
Afterwards, labels were placed on the jars, and the jars were placed in the cupboard.
And … Mom loves it, and has even whispered “it’s better than when I make it!” … no doubt (at least) a mild exaggeration. 🙂