Tuesday, 11 May 2021
I preserve my bread-and-butter pickles in a syrup made of equal parts
by volume of 5% cider vinegar and white sugar. When I ate the
pickles, I strained the syrup into a quart jar. With the minerals
leached out of the vegetables, that would seem to make it a perfect
switchel concentrate -- just add water.
But during various processes, some of the acetic acid evaporated, and
the syrup is too sweet.
One morning I looked out the kitchen window, reflected that the
rhubarb needed to be picked, and the dime dropped: I could boil some
rhubarb in the syrup.
But oxalic acid isn't a preservative, and the juice would dilute the
sugar -- I couldn't expect the concentrate to keep until hot weather.
Making ice cubes to drop into my water bottle sounds like a good idea,
but I've learned by experience that the non-water components of a
beverage get squeezed out by the forming ice and end up irretrievably
stuck to the ice-cube trays.
Hmm . . . there's that one-pint honey bottle I saved so I could carry
switchel concentrate next to a bag of ice in my insulated pannier. If
you add liquid to a bottle a little at a time, and turn the bottle to
an angle that doesn't allow the expanding ice to get a square push,
you can freeze a beverage without breaking the bottle.
So I got up just now to check my supply of half-pint can-or-freeze
jars, and discovered that I also have a twelve-ounce ketchup bottle
that wouldn't take up much more room in a pannier than the
sixteen-ounce honey bottle. And there are plenty of can-or-freeze
jars. I'll have to check the Ball Blue book to see whether the taper
is enough to stop the ice from pushing on the walls, or whether only
food can be frozen without precautions.
Meanwhile, I've been cogitating for days on how much starch to add.
I put two tablespoons of whole-wheat flour into one cup of milk to
make gravy; surely half as much flour in four times as much liquid
wouldn't be too much. But the rec.food.cooking FAQ and conversion
file doesn't comment on the thickening power of oat flour. Corn
starch is twice as thick as wheat flour, and I think that there are
some flours that don't thicken at all.
I thought about adding one serving of rolled oats, then remembered
that I have some real oatmeal, aka steel-cut oats. Perfect!
But I once made barley water by the same method (boil the grain, drink
the liquid) and when frozen, it curdled: the ice squished the barley
into lumps that had to be chewed.
On the other hand, I'm not trying to add calories here, just a touch
of starch to get it across the intestinal wall faster. Perhaps traces
of starch wouldn't curdle.
Okay, one tablespoon of oatmeal to a quart of syrup and a random
amount of rhubarb juice.
Time to grab a knife and head for the garden.
Turned out to be hedge clippers -- trimming the tall grass beside the
railroad ties was more urgent. This exposed a rock that would wreck
the lawn mower if hit, so it was even more urgent than I'd thought.
We dug up some railroad ties -- literally; they had been the
foundation for a pier before the lake filled in and buried them -- and
used them to raise the garden above the spring floods. I've pried
them up and put more sand under them more than once.
Whenever I dig a hole, I scatter the excavated dirt around and haul
dirt from under the compost heap to fill the hole. I also hill up the
potatoes by hauling in dirt instead of hoeing dirt from between the
rows. A few years back, my neighbor dumped a bucket of beach
cleanings on the garden.
Saturday, 15 May 2021
On Wednesday I got my skin examined, on Friday I simmered beans in the
pot I want to use for the switchel. I don't know what I did with
Tuesday, 18 May 2021
Busy Sunday and Monday. Washing clothes today. And the bean soup is
still in my six-quart cooking pot. The rhubarb is overdue for
A while back I had a ginger root that was starting to rot, so I sliced
up the good parts and put them in vinegar brine off some pickles. I
have decided to chop up the remaining slices and put them into the
switchel concentrate. For a time I thought I'd buy a fresh ginger
root, since the pickled ginger isn't near enough, but I forgot to stop
at Carniceria San Jose last Saturday, and don't want to wait until
next Saturday. I have plenty of gengibre molido, however.
After deciding to throw the spoonful of vinegar brine in too, I
realized that the dispenser bottle the pickled ginger is in is just
right to hold switchel concentrate for one ride.
We had bean soup for supper, and I put the remaining soup into the
casserole that the seasoned buttermilk had been in before I made
cornbread. (checks calendar) And I've got nothing on for tomorrow.
Fat and Skinny is this coming weekend. I have no plans to
participate. I usually attended both days of the September Century
before the League Against Bike-riding scuttled it. I may read the Fat
and Skinny schedule, if I can find it, before going to the Farmers'
Markets. The countryside tours appear to be all that are mentioned on
the Web site, but the historic tour has always been pretty much "You
may go if you happen to pass by when it is starting up, or happen to
see the only posted schedule in the county before the ride starts."
Wednesday, 19 May 2021
seven stalks of rhubarb, cut into quarter-inch slices.
a bit more than two tablespoons of vinegar brine
(includes some mustard seed)
nine slices of pickled ginger, minced
two slightly-rounded teaspoons of gengibre molido
a quarter cup of rolled oats
a few cranks of black pepper
one quart of PBL syrup
Covered tightly and set over very low heat. An hour or three later, I
noticed that it was boiling, put the tight lid back on, turned the
heat to high for a moment, turned the fire out, and left it to cool
over the pilot light.
I'll strain and bottle it after my nap.
The rhubarb is definitely past its prime. I cut out another flowering
stalk while picking the seven leaves.
Should have picked a few more leaves: I put thirty-two ounces of
syrup into the pot, and got twenty-eight out -- almost exactly; there
are marks on the jar, and the syrup ends at the one cup from the top
It isn't noticably thickened. Oat flakes are visible in the compote
strained out of the syrup. The compote is tasty; I presume the
diluted syrup will be too.
Probably be another month before I know how it works. But it's
predicted to be pretty warm this week, then June will bust out all
PBL is the initials of the woman who gave me the recipe for
joy beeson at centurylink dot net