Gooseberry Coffee Cake

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Gooseberry Coffee Cake

It’s been a while.

This blog and uncanny itself are never far from my mind and I continue to be inspired by the beautiful, local and seasonal dishes that show up on various news feeds. I want to immediately react, I want to try them and I want them to inspire in me a new spinoff recipe. It has been a humbling experience to watch as elements of your life that you have passion for slowly recede and make way for more pressing concerns, like two small children and two more on the way. I lumber and huff and waddle my way through the day and I count my blessings when it reaches 7 p.m. and I can collapse on the couch and not move an inch.

Sometimes though, you can find a way to combine function with creativity. Over the summer, I diligently froze strawberries, black currants, raspberries, rhubarb and gooseberries with the helpful advice from Hitchhiking to Heaven served us well throughout the winter, but there is still more that needs used up. I work hard at preparing freezer meals for when the twins arrive and life gets chaotic, but when my freezer is already stuffed with fruit, it’s time to take action.

This recipe is simple and completely not my own. It’s a recipe that is handed down and floating around everywhere and I’m not sure who to credit. My recipe is from my mother in law and is called Lunar Rhubarb Cake. Actually out of rhubarb, gooseberries are a wonderful replacement since they maintain that tart/sweet balance and it’s easy to use frozen fruit and easy enough an almost 4-year old can help!

My Sous Chef

Gooseberry Coffee Cake

Unknown credit, but here’s a great recipe from Canadian Living .

1/2 cup softened butter

1 1/2  cups sugar (I used 1 cup)

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups flour (I used a GF blend)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup butter milk

2 cups fresh or frozen gooseberries (tips and tails snipped)

Topping:

1 cup brown sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 cup softened butter

1. Grease a 9×13 pan and preheat oven to 350.

2. Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.

3. Combining your dry ingredients. Stir in your dry ingredients into your creamed sugar/butter mixture, alternating with the butter milk until combined.

4. Fold in your frozen gooseberries and pour into the pan and bake.

5. Combine brown sugar, cinnamon and butter until crumbly and dollop over the top of the cake. Bake for 45 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

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What Grows Together, Goes Together

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Uncanny has some exciting news: For the first time in our history, we’ll be available for retail outside of the Sackville Farmer’s Market! We’re very excited to be working with Cocagne River Orchard a family run apple orchard located in beautiful Cocagne, New Brunswick. Owners Denis and Nicole are long-time supporters of buying local and living gently on the land and uncanny is delighted to be working together, highlighting the best of South-East New Brunswick. The orchard is available as a u-pick, so when you’re done picking apples from their beautiful property, please visit their boutique where you’ll find a wide range of uncanny products and other interesting finds.

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On the theme of growing and going together is a really special preserve that has been crafted from the abundance of local and readily available ingredients. A helpful way to look at flavour combinations is to tour your garden and look at what’s in season and chances are, those flavours will compliment each other. Right now the rhubarb season is winding down, the strawberries are turning red on the vine and the roses are in full bloom. All the makings of a lovely, summery preserve!

If you’ve never preserved with rose petals before, as I hadn’t, give it a try! Here are just a few benefits:

1. They make your kitchen smell like a fairy tale.

2. They are easy to harvest. Nip them in the bud stage and  give them a 2 minute bath in cool, soapy water and a thorough rinse to ensure no bug friends join the party. They open during the day and the petals are ready to fall out by the evening. Super easy harvesting.

3. The flavour is really subtle. I was worried the preserve would taste like a funeral home, but it added just the right amount of floral note. Don’t worry, this is not a jam you’ll be dabbing behind your ears!

My strawberries weren’t perfectly ripe but I wanted them included in the preserve so I opted for my homemade Strawberry Liqueur. All together, you have three beautifully pink ingredients.

I went with a French style with this preserve, letting the rhubarb macerate for a couple of days before boiling the syrup and adding the remaining ingredients back in. I think it’s a darling of a preserve.

Rhubarb Rose Petal Preserve

2 3/4 pounds of chopped rhubarb

2 3/4 cups sugar

juice of 2 lemons

1/2 cup rose petals or petals from 2 small roses. Please make sure they’re unsprayed.

**Optional: 2 tbsp Strawberry Liqueur **

1. Slice the rhubarb and toss sugar and juice of one lemon together and pour into 9×13 pan. Cover with parchment paper and refrigerate overnight.

2. The next morning, strain rhubarb mixture and pour juices into a large pan. Add the juice of your second lemon with the strained rhubarb juices. Bring to a boil and reduce by about half. Stir in rhubarb and fresh rose petals and stir over low-medium heat until the preserve is cooked to your liking. I like a bit of texture, so I reduced my liquid to the setting point and added the fruit in. It didn’t take long to finish and the jam is chunky. If you want a smoother, more stewed-like jam, don’t boil the rhubarb juice as much and give your rhubarb extra time to cook and break down.

3. Remove from heat and stir in your strawberry liqueur. Pour into sterilized jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Perfect for Tea Time.

Rhubarb Rose Petal Preserve on Punk   Domestics

Hobo Rhubarb

I believe that one of the most important reasons to buy and eat local is to learn the narrative behind your food. It’s the story of how that food came to be, who grew or tended it, how hard they had to work and why that food must be enjoyed in its proper time and season. While grocery store food also has a narrative, you can bet it won’t have as much flare. It may be a story of food grown thousands of kilometers away, loss of diversity due to monocrops, undervalued and underpaid labour and poor stewardship of the land.

When I’m not growing it myself, I try to buy as much local produce as I can. Not only does it feel good to buy from friends and neighbours, but I also like learning the story behind the produce. It helps me value the product and delight in the end product and it fuels my passion for sharing my preserves with others. I have been on the receiving end of very generous gifts of fruit or offers to come help myself to leftover fruit and most times, those offers come with a story.

Like hobo rhubarb.

I was admiring the rhubarb patch at my local nursery, when the nursery owner mentioned I could help myself, warning me that it was the green, thicker stalks, which I find perfect for chutney. She called it “hobo rhubarb” as that patch was a gift from her neighbour who received that crown of rhubarb back in the 1920s during the Depression. The railway that runs from Montreal to Halifax goes through Sackville and when work was scarce, men would ride the rails looking for work. In exchange for a bit of work or bite to eat, they would offer whatever they could. In this instance, it was a crown of rhubarb.

I’m not exactly sure what I’ll make as there are plenty of great suggestions at Punk Domestics, but whatever shape it takes, that rhubarb will continue to tell stories and food becomes alive with meaning and celebration. That’s my kind of food!