Minneapolis is looking an awful lot like Seattle this year. We’ve had 17 days of sun since April 1st. The rest of the days have been cloudy or rainy, heavy on the rain. My rhubarb could not be happier. The leaves are gigantic, the stalks, prolific. My rhubarb is tucked into the corner of my yard, surrounded by day lilies and hostas. It looks down right prehistoric in all it’s giant-leafedness. To bad I had to hack it down in the name of preservation.
“What exactly is rhubarb?” asked my young daughter at breakfast. “It’s a vegetable with big leaves and red stalks, and it’s very sour. But only eat the stalks. You use it like fruit and cook it with sugar for dessert,” I said. She gave me that “no way I’m eating that” look. “Mom, you should call it ‘Rhubarbarian’ not rhubarb. Like a Barbarian.” Clearly this was her opinion of eating rhubarb. But the name was fantastic.
Below are two recipes, one for preserved spiced rhubarb, and the other for a libation made with the poaching syrup. The rhubarb itself is perfect for tossing in a free-form crust for a quick dessert tart. The cocktail we’ve dubbed the “Rhubarbarian”, spiked with vodka and lime. You can also make a Rhubarbarian soda, just omit the vodka. It makes a perfect summer refresher, even in the rain.