Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday April 3
Call it beginner's luck! One day into this blogging thing and whammo, someone named Betty (?) picks up my latest book, the Vegan Cook's Bible and publishes a recipe. How exciting.

Dress it Green- Part One: The Acid
As noted yesterday, nothing green poking up here in Bruce County, but in anticipation for the long-awaited arrival of all those tender spring things, I thought I would get my pantry ready to dress them.
So, what exactly does one want to use to complement those tangy, astringent and often very lemony spring tastes? Certainly not an overpowering Caesar or cheesy Blue [sorry, I do love those dressings, just not in the spring].
It has to be a Vinaigrette. Subtle, supporting and with just the right balance between nutty oil [not olive here] and plant acid [as opposed to acetic acid or white vinegar, good only for washing windows, but that's just my humble opinion]
But, just like my life, can't do that till I do this. So my first step will be to make a Sweet Raspberry Vinegar. This one is inspired from the preserving spirit of Canadian bush pioneers who braved black flies and mosquitoes to pick wild raspberries and transform them into a silky sweet, brilliant red sauce with one heck of a kick. Those people really used their wits to survive. They mixed a tablespoon [15 mL if you live in Canada now, not then of course. Heck, they probably used a soupspoon wiped off on the back of an apron or just poured it out of the bottle, but don't let my little peeve destroy the nice little intro] of the [I would call] tonic blend with a glass of water for a refreshing summer ade [or aid depending on how you look at it].

Sweet Raspberry Vinegar...a Pat Crocker original 
6 cups raspberries [use fresh or frozen but try to get the whole, flash-frozen ones that aren't clumped together in a solid block, but that will work as well]
1-3/4 cups red or white wine vinegar [remember, use real vinegar, not the white window cleaner]
2-1/2 cups granulated sugar [I know, it's the white death: you could try a cup of honey, I haven't tried that in this recipe]

In a large, non-reactive bowl or crock [I used an antique crock but you can use a glass or stainless steel bowl], combine 3 cups raspberries with 1-1/4 cups of the vinegar. Cover with a clean tea towel and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.

The smell will drive you crazy as the raspberries macerate and then it will be time to go to the next step, which is to mash the raspberries into the vinegar once they have soaked for a day. Strain the mixture through a coarse sieve set over a large, non-reactive bowl or crock [this time I set the strainer over an 8-cup glass batter bowl]. Press on the solids with the back of a wooden spoon to release as much juice as possible. Discard pulp and seeds. Return strained juices to the original crock or bowl.

Add the remaining 3 cups of raspberries and the remaining 1/2 cup wine vinegar to the strained juice. Cover with a clean tea towel and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Mash with a potato masher and strain the mixture through a coarse sieve into a Maslin pan or saucepan, pressing on solids with the back of a wooden spoon to release as much juice as possible. Discard pulp and seeds.

Meanwhile sterilize 3 1-cup canning jars and pour boiling water over the lid and screw band. [You don't have to do this, but if you want to save this delicious elixir, you will start with clean and sterilized jars. for more sterilizing how-to go here.]

Bring the strained juice to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Add sugar, one cup at a time, stirring until the sugar has been dissolved before adding the next cup. Lightly boil, stirring occasionally, for about 9 to 12 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened. [If you hard boil it for too long, it will reach the gel stage and set up into a squishy jelly, which isn't a bad thing- you can use it as a topping for ice cream, yogurt, crepes...but it won't be pourable and useable as a vinegar.]

Fill hot jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims, top with flat lids and screw on metal rings. Let cool on a towel or wire rack. Label and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months [If you have sterilized those jars. Don'tchawishyadid?] 

OK We got through that first real post. Phew. I would really really like to put the photos beside the actual step that they illustrate, but don't know how to do that. Sure like to know if it is possible and how to do that.

Watch for...Dress it Green Part Two: The Oil 

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All photographs and recipes are original and copyrighted to Pat Crocker. Pat invites you to use her recipes and share with family and friends. Please contact Pat Crocker for express permission for commercial, internet, or other use of her photographs and recipes.