Saturday, May 19, 2012

Rhubarb Jam & Planning for TEOTWAWKI


The next Memento Supper Club is coming up in early June, hosted by our friends Gerald and Robyn.  As I may have mentioned in the past, Gerald is an avid hunter and charcutier - who's been known to stalk, kill, butcher, cure, smoke, cook and serve us amazing meats, like deer sausage or homemade bacon.  He's also a bit of a prepper, methinks, and a fan of zombie movies/tv.  All that came together in their invitation to the next dinner party.

Housed in a 30 caliber ammunition canister, the invite contained a can of sardines, a candle, an oatmeal cookie form an MRE (meal ready-to-eat), a fuel canister and matches with instructions in (perhaps) German, a fire starting tinder, dried 'Bee Cheng Hiang' pork, dried onion, beef, & spinach in a mason jar, and a couple items to help us catch something to serve: a rat trap and a wire squirrel snare.  Also in the canister was the fully laminated (of course) invite, with a list of things that survived the Zombie Apocolypse (like seeds & roots, canned & dried goods, and foraged & hunted items), and on the back was a description of the situation we find ourselves in as we plan our course for the dinner:



I'm sure we can all agree, The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) has been quite an inconvenience these past couple of years.  This flier is to inform you that the Zombies are pretty much gone, the provisional imperial government headed by Darth Vader has given the green light, and it is now safe to exit your super secret underground lair.  Which is good for you, because we heard you're running out of supplies.

We'd like to invite you to the Sexton Compound for a potluck dinner that will showcase all that post apocalyptic food has to offer.  We know you likely only have access to foods that have been preserved, vegetables that survived the Vegan Zombie hordes (or grow rapidly), and proteins you caught yourself or bartered with your neighbors for.  That's totally fine.

We should warn you that the electricity has been spotty here, and that our stove may not work when you arrive.  You should plan to cook/reheat what you have with one of our traditional means of cooking (camp stove, gas grill, charcoal grill, smoker, etc.)  We've been working on a solar oven, but not to much success.

It may also be a good idea for you to bring additional light sources in case your course is later in the evening.  I hear that headlamps are great to cook by).  We'll have a dozen or so oil lamps, candles, and various flashlights.  Can't wait to see you all on June 2nd, 4pm, at the address below.

Kilo Tango Foxtrot - 
Gerald n' Robyn."

As a zombie & post-apocalyptic film aficionado myself, I naturally began jumping with joy when I read the invite.  It's truly inspired me in ways I didn't anticipate as Dan & I began planning our course:  Dessert.  

On top of the books on foraging in the NW and living with less I've already read (e.g. The Moneyless Man, Fat of the Land, and Northwest Foraging), since getting the invite, I've read The Zombie Survival Guide and The Disaster Preparedness Handbook, and am half-way through When All Hell Breaks Loose, and have The Prepper's Pocket Guide  up next. They've all been very inspiring, even (perhaps surprisingly) the Zombie Survival Guide.

Not to reveal too much about our plans for the dinner party (our dish is a secret to everyone except the course preceeding us), but I find myself in the midst of planning a solid program for maintaining stock of food, water, and first aid supplies (with a FIFO inventory management system to ensure we use what we buy and replenish what we use).  I've been playing around with a solar oven prototype using mirror tiles, though resorted to using propane for one component of our dessert dish.  I've started a little home brew.  We've expanded our vegetable garden  by more than double.  I've been making use of items I can forage on our property and on our street.  I've been drying goods.  And I've begun 'putting up' food.

The Columbia City Farmers Market started back up this month, and on Wednesday Dan & I (and Hilo) returned for the first time.  Dan does the weekly meal planning, but I had a list of my own - including several pounds of something in season that I could preserve with the canning set my Mom loaned me.  I ended up getting about 2.5 lbs of rhubarb.  I had some frozen rhubarb left over from last year, so I was able to adapt a recipe and make a batch of homemade Rhubarb Jam.  Although I don't plan to use it for the dinner party (or do I?), I made 4 pints that will definitely brighten up some meals later this year, and come in handy should we find ourselves in an extended disaster situation.

Rhubarb Jam
4 cups chopped frozen rhubarb
2 lbs fresh rhubarb chopped
1/4 cup water
4 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 packages of No Sugar Pectin

Boil the jars and lids, then reduce heat to keep warm.

Wash the fruit, then dice into 1/2 inch pieces.  Combine water and rhubarb in a large pot, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes - until rhubarb is tender.  Turn off heat.

Measure the sugar.  Set aside 1/4 cup.  Mix the 1/4 cup sugar with the pectin and mix together thoroughly.  Stir sugar/pectin mixture into the fruit.  Add 1/4 cup lemon juice and continue stirring.

Bring mixture to a full boil.  Add remaining sugar and boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

Remove jars from water bath.

Fill jars, leaving 1/4 inch of space at the top.  Wipe rims and attach lids securely.  Return filled and sealed jars to the water bath, ensuring there is at least 2 inches of water above the jars.  Process at a full boil for 10 minutes

Remove jars and let cool.  Check seals.  Put any jars with lids that still pop up and down in the fridge and use in the next month or so.  Other jars can be stored for a year or more, though flavor reportedly suffers after about a year.

Makes 64 oz - enough to fill 4 pint-sized (16 oz) jars or 8 cup-sized (8 oz) jars.

Adapted from this recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Jam.

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