Green Tomato Jam Recipe

Grilled Cheddar with Tomato Jam

I enjoyed a merry weekend filled with new grad school friends, costumes, dance parties, and baking. I often look ahead or dwell behind instead of being present. After a week of feeling disconnected and anxious for no good reason, it was fun to dance around to soul music with a bison and a bookworm, drinking keg beer and feeling happy.

Jackson Falls Climbers

Last weekend I traveled to the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois for camping and hiking with a lovely woman in my program. She took part in a climbing workshop all day Saturday and I had the opportunity to hike through Jackson Falls and enjoy the fall colors, fresh air, and solitude.

Shawnee Fungi

When I returned to work after the camping trip, the kind and knowledgable faculty librarian I work under handed me a large bag of green tomatoes from her garden. I decided to preserve this bounty by making green tomato jam. I'm not the first to prepare green tomatoes this way, but I still felt a bit brilliant as I savored one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten: sharp cheddar and green tomato jam grilled between slices of marble rye. 

Green Tomato Jam


2 lbs of green tomatoes, rinsed
3 C sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice


(Note: I bypassed the formal canning process and split my jam between a refrigerator and a freezer container. Can if you please, of course.)

Cut the tomatoes into eighths, trimming off the stem. (The green tomatoes I used were small to medium sized and fairly firm.  If your tomatoes are juicier, consider squeezing out the seeds and juice so your jam can properly thicken.) Combine the tomatoes with the rest of the ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-high heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often. Reduce the heat to medium and allow the mixture to gently simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. When the mixture has thickened and darkened, remove from the heat. Allow to cool before transferring to storage containers. The jam will keep for two weeks in the refrigerator. 


Rhubarb Ginger Jam & News

June 25, 2010

I have some big news! After several years in nonprofit development, I am leaving my job at the end of this month for graduate school. I'll be moving to Champaign, Illinois and attending the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science. I am really looking forward to this opportunity, but I'm a bit nervous about uprooting my life. 

I've learned a lot in my current position, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I am very ready to move on. I am really proud of the work our two-person department has been able to achieve with virtually no resources -- in fact, I'm astounded when I sit back and reflect on our accomplishments. I truly wish the agency the best in the future, but I am really ready for a change and a more positive environment. 

I love Chicago and it will be sad to leave -- especially not knowing when I might be back as a resident rather than a visitor. Nick will be staying in the city, and my closest friends and various family members are here. I expect to visit often and I'm crossing my fingers for exciting local employment prospects next year. (Let me know if you need a librarian or information professional!) Champaign-Urbana has a few things that I am looking forward to, and I imagine I will quickly discover even more that the area has to offer, but right now my list includes: 

  • Purchasing a bike to use in a city without scary traffic.
  • Spending time with my friends Andy and Sarah.
  • Having access to a nice gym.
  • The Blind Pig, Mirabelle Bakery and Prairie Fruits Farm.
  • Meeting a few running and food friends in person. (Any local food blogs I should follow besides Champaign Taste?)
  • Getting to know my two new roommates, Greg and Michelle, and having my own room. 

I am also ecstatic that I earned a Graduate Assistantship!  This position will provide me with work experience, cover my tuition, and earn me a small monthly income. The work sounds like a great fit for me -- a cross between my interest in food and my interest in information collection and organization.  I'll be employed by the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. The collection includes current and historical communications related to agriculture, food, natural resources and rural affairs.  I'll be working to build and manage this collection, further customize the relational databases, improve the website, and put in a few hours a week at the library reference desk. 

Rhubarb Ginger Jam

I'm not sure how many of you will make it all the way through that long post, but thank you for letting me share it with you. Please let me know if you have any favorite places in the area that I should check out (though, I am without a car) -- or if you are in the area, email me (underneath my photo) and we can plan a picnic!  I am also interest in getting to know more men and women in the library field, so don't hesitate to send me a note if you would like to start a conversation about the profession.  

Now, on to the delicious stuff. My favorite rhubarb recipe of the season is this very simple "refrigerator" jam. This jam is prepared without pectin and is not canned, but rather stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. The ginger in this recipe balances the sugar quite nicely.  Jam is usually too sweet for me on its own, but I love a few spoonfuls of this spread over toasted sourdough with cream cheese, or served warm over ice cream.   

Rhubarb Ginger Jam
Loosely adapted from Bon Appetit


1 lb rhubarb, washed, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 C sugar
3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Tbl lemon juice


Combine all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture achieves your desired thickness (keeping in mind that it will be a bit thicker once it cools).  Remove the ginger root and transfer to a clean jar -- I used a squat glass, swing-top jar with a wide mouth-- and allow to cool at room temperature before covering. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

(I've been participating in Project 365 - Take a gander at my first 6 months of 2010.)

Citrus Vinaigrette

Sky 3

As the seasons change, so do my eating habits.  A winter of braising and baking has given way to fresh fruits and vegetables and an interest in a personal salad spinner for my work desk. Add some sunshine to your plate with this bright and simple vinaigrette. I've been using it to dress spinach and fennel salads with freshly grated Parmesan.

Citrus Vinaigrette

Citrus Vinaigrette


Zest of one Meyer lemon
Zest of one orange
Juice of one Meyer Lemon, about 2 Tbl
Juice of one orange, about 1/2 C
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbl honey
2 Tbl olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


In an 8 ounce jar (or larger) zest and juice the lemon and orange. I use my hands instead of a hand-held juicer because I think the pulp adds a nice element to the dressing. Add the remaining ingredients. Screw on the lid and shake to combine.  Taste the dressing and adjust as needed.  The amount of juice in the orange and lemon will vary.  You will likely need to balance the flavors by adjusting the salt, oil or vinegar.