magic mix of rhubarb and strawberry

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I grew up in a house with a back yard and a small veggie garden and orchard as well. We grew strawberries, tomatoes and carrots and had the most beautiful apricot and cherry trees. It was an absolute heaven for all of us (the neighbours kids included). It was so thrilling playing in nature which went wild with different flowers during Spring and rich with fruits and vegetables during Summer. I still remember how I loved eating carrots straight from the earth but I also remember how I hated picking strawberries. I thought it wasn’t fair that that was especially my job, but being the youngest in the family made me pretty much in charge of it on a daily basis, during the strawberry season. I know that this isn’t a post about strawberry jam but every time strawberries are involved in any of my recipes I go back in time and see all this happening all over again.

This is to what I go back…It’s late May, beginning of June, the end of Spring almost beginning of Summer. The weather is just right to spend a whole day playing outside as often as we can. It’s the end of school as well, hurray! lets go to the gardens (yes we used to jump the gates and use all our garden as a play ground) and play until the inevitable call from the kitchen window will make us all rush back home to dinner. Those were the days of absolute freedom. Enjoying the sun, wind, play and laughter is all we did and it was magical. Being in contact with the soil, quite often with our bare feet and having our own duties was part of our days as well. One of mine was picking the strawberries. Being a very busy child (playing), I saw that almost as a punishment. I had to stop what I was doing and go back to the house for a dish (all a waste of time in my little head) and fill up the whole bowl with fresh strawberries. Oh, if I could only go back in time…

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caramelised rhubarb and cardamom upside down cake

caramelised upside down rhubarb cake

Rhubarb is one of my favourite ingredients to cook/bake with. It is as simple as that. If you want to make me smile, bake me a cake with rhubarb. I do that to myself quite often but feel free to indulge me more. Once the rhubarb was discovered, no other fruit/vegetable could compete with this one. I am not talking just about me here, at one point in its history rhubarb was more expensive than other valuable herbs, like saffron, for example.

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Rhubarb wasn’t one of the vegetables I grew up with. It was discovered later in my life and since then it is constantly present in my baking and cooking. There is a sour flavour I love, the texture and the colour, which are the winning attributes that keeps rhubarb on the list of top ingredients to work with. But the actual upside down cake is definitely something that was part of my childhood and something that will bring up precious memories. You see, my mum didn’t bake much and as far as I can remember my older sister was in charge of baking wonderful cakes. Except, there was one sweet that mum would always bake for us especially on lazy Sundays, reserved for long and slow family lunches – and that was the upside down cake. She used to say – “it’s easy to remember”, almost as an excuse for not being a keen baker in the house. She needn’t have said that, however, because that cake will forever remain special to me, even when I create something so different, that only has the same name. My mother used green apples for the cake and that is a wonderful combination and certainly one of those that can inspire a person to create other sweet goodies.
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