Dye Project #2: Rhubarb Leaves (plus Rhubarb Crisp recipe!)

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Massive rhubarb leaves. 1lb ball of wool for comparison.

As any Midwesterner worth their salt knows, rhubarb is the true sign of spring. Specifically a pie, crisp, or other culinary delight. My family has been blessed by the rhubarb gods – our plants are prolific, massive, and darn near impossible to kill. They may or may not have even emigrated to Utah (shhhh).

farm rhubarb
Be afraid.

In the reading I’ve been doing recently about natural and plant based dyeing, rhubarb has come up more than once. I’ve read the roots offer orange colors while the leaves can be used as a mordant (seriously, gotta do that nomenclature post), and maybe some green/yellow color? I already knew what to do with the stems.

So. Since we had some company visiting I had to be a little sneaky with my dye obsession. I decided to make a rhubarb crisp (scroll down for my favorite recipe!)… and just happened to toss some leaves into the dye pot. Roots would wait for another day!

IMG_7941I ended up with 13 oz of rhubarb leaves completely effortlessly since they are massive. Remember that the leaves are poisonous if eaten due to their high oxalic acid content (nephrotoxic to people, dogs, etc), so usually these guys end up in the compost bin. Today my leaves got roughly chopped and tossed in the dedicated aluminum dye pot (don’t cook and dye in the same pots kids). I low simmered them for 1/2 hour down in the dye lab while I made crisp* in the kitchen (recipe at the end of the post).

It was a busy day and I didn’t get back to my leaves until the next morning. By that timeIMG_7945 they were a gloppy, gooey, fragrant mess and the water had taken on a golden glow. Because I am never patient enough, I hadn’t yet prepared a whole bunch of fiber. What I had scoured were 2 ounces of Romney/Blackface blend I’d purchased a pound of from eBay… purely for experimenting with in the dye pot and on the wheel. I’d spun 1 ounce into a 2 ply and the other oz was roving. In went the damp wool, simmered low for 30 minutes, then cooled about 4 hours and out.

I also used a 1/2 tsp of baking soda in about 1.5C of dye water to modify a wisp of roving.

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Left: Undyed roving, Top: Rhubarb yarn, Middle: Rhubarb Roving, Right: Baking Soa Dip

I have to say, the results were… underwhelming. Kind of a murky, dull yellow. And the fiber felt harsh and was well on its way to felting – maybe due to the rhubarb leaves, but more likely due to my beginner’s technique. Too much swishing.**

I may try rhubarb leaves again – more as a mordant/pre-dye before working with other dyes. I bet it would look stellar overdyed with indigo! In the meantime I think I’ll stick to alum.


*My Rhubarb Crisp Recipe:

Crust and Topping:
1 1/4 C oatmeal
1 C brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 C flour (I use whole wheat)
2/3 C soft butter

Mix these 5 ingredients together until crumbly. Press 1/2 mixture into
9x13" pan

Mix in bowl and add to pan:
4-5 C rhubarb chopped into 1" pieces
1 1/4 C sugar
1/3 C water
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla

Press remaining 1/2 of topping over the filling.

Bake at 350 F for 1 hours or until golden and bubbling in the middle.

Best with ice cream!

**As an aside – several dye books I’ve read say to rotate your goods every 10 minutes in the dye bath. What??? How?? All I would have left would be dryer balls! Speaking of that, I know my next 2 steps: 1. Make dryer balls. 2. Buy some superwash wool!

pinterest rhubarb leaf post

Raspberry Tarts – All on a Summer’s Day

tart

Who likes raspberries? Who likes tarts? Good, that should be just about everybody. It certainly describes my family. We are very lucky in raspberries. Thank the previous owner of our suburban Twin Cities home. They thoughtfully provided a full raised bed of late summer bearing brambles tucked into the back of our secret (fenced) garden. This year I pruned, fertilized, and am now picking about 1 qt of berries per day.

But really, back to the tarts. Because raspberries should get hooked up with sugar, flour, butter and egg as quickly as possible. This recipe is originally from “The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook”. I’ve seen it floating around the internet in a few places and tweaked it into my own little delicious treat.

I am joined in this venture as usual by my trusty helper… who incidentally just turned 4! Four years old and baking like a champ…

Find the finished recipe below the fun pictures.

Summer’s Day Raspberry Tarts  

Gather ingredients – we will need more sugar than this but it didn’t all fit on the cutting board.IMG_2924Mix up your dry ingredients, cut in butter. We ended up doubling this recipe (again, we have a lot of raspberries) and used 1/2 butter, 1/2 shortening. I would recommend sticking with butter – they turned out almost TOO flakey (OMG, is that a thing??).

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Add egg yolk and lemon juice to the dough, give a little stir and pop in the fridge until ye olde berries are ready.

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Mix up the cornstarch, water, sugar, and fresh berries. I decreased the sugar a little from the original recipe… still plenty sweet!

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Give a little stir and heat on medium heat until everything starts to thicken. Keep stirring, otherwise the bottom of your saucepan will get sludgy. Trust me on this.

Once your filling is ready take it off the heat and let it cool a bit. Take out the dough and roll about 1/8 inch thick.

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I used a biscuit cutter at this point, but a clean cup or something else round would work too. Place into muffin pans… cause seriously, fancy tart pans are way beyond me. No need to spray the pan. Fill each little tart shell with raspberry filling – about 2/3 full.

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Bake as directed! Enjoy the smells!

And voila. So good. So flakey. Taste like summer. I think we will bring these with us for our annual Labor Day cabin trip Up North. Yes, around here we capitalize Up North. Enjoy!

Summer’s Day Raspberry Tarts

SERVINGS 8-10 YIELD 8-10 tarts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 14teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup fresh raspberry
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles tiny peas.
  3. Combine egg yolk and lemon juice with a fork.
  4. Sprinkle egg yolk mixture over flour mixture and stir together with a fork until it forms a ball. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Combine cornstarch and cold water in a small saucepan until smooth. Stir in sugar and raspberries. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Allow mixture to cool.
  6. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll 1/8″ thick. Cut tart shapes with biscuit cutter or top of cup.
  7. Spoon filling evenly into tart shells, filling each no more than 2/3 full.
  8. Bake at 425° F for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° F and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.
  9. Remove from oven and cool, in pans, for 15 minutes. Remove from pans to cooling racks and cool completely.

Best Ever Sourdough Biscuits

Last week I had a magical day. A sublime day. I still don’t know how it happened.

I made 3 separate recipes that were SPECTACULAR (if I do say so myself… but the family did agree, in my defense).

Number one was a sublime molasses cookie recipe. I feel like I’ve made this recipe before, but I don’t know, maybe the stars aligned or something. They turned out crisp/chewy, just the right amount of spice and sweet, and they lasted for a few days perfectly (until they all got chowed) in the TARDIS cookie jar. Yes, I have a TARDIS cookie jar. Find the recipe here: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/molasses-cookies/

Number two was a lovely wild rice cream of chicken soup. I’ll post the base recipe here but I may go back and write more about this later since I did change some things. http://www.food.com/recipe/minnesota-cream-of-chicken-wild-rice-soup-134627

And Number three. Number three turned out to be the Best Ever Sourdough Biscuits. I’ve made biscuits before… and sourdough biscuits before… but these were fantastic. Light, buttery, just a hint of tangy sourdough. I’ve made them again and wow. Just wow. The beginning of this recipe is from http://www.tasteofhome.com, but you should try mine instead.

So –>

– Best Ever Sourdough Biscuit Recipe –

Prep/Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Makes: 12 Biscuits
Oven: 425 degrees F (I used 400 with convection)

Ingredients
2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cold butter
1 cup sourdough starter
1/3 cup of plain yogurt
1/6 cup milk (just put your yogurt in the measuring cup first, then add enough milk to reach 1/2 cup. I used skim milk but I bet 2% or whole would be even better)
Melted butter for tops after cooking

Directions
1. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix. Cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Great kid activity. E can attest.
2. Combine sourdough starter, yogurt and milk. Stir into the crumb mixture until the dough just holds together.
3. Turn onto a well-floured surface and knead 8-10 times until the mix begins to behave like dough. Then STOP or your biscuits will be tough. Roll or pat to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a floured 2.5″ biscuit cutter. Place 2″ apart on a greased baking sheet
4. Bake at 425 (or 400 convection) for 12-15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Remove and brush tops with butter (if wished) and allow to cool on a wire rack. They taste best when still warm! With honey! Yummm….

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Happy cooking you guys. If you make this recipe feel free to post comments or photos here or my facebook (www.facebook.com/knittyvet) or instagram (@knittyvet) or twitter (@knittyvet).

And remember I have a Mother’s Day Shipping Sale at the KnittyVet Etsy shop right now – FREE SHIPPING on any order over $10! Just use the code MOMGIFT15 until Mother’s Day.

Ok folks, thanks for reading, and enjoy those biscuits! Man, I’m so hungry now!!!!