Rhubarbarita

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I’ve kind of left all of you hanging here for a while! I’ve been busy out of town for weddings, family visits, and a funeral – cooking and visiting, planting my sister’s garden, playing with my nephews and nieces. At home again, it’s that late Spring/early Summer season of long days, cool nights, thunderstorms. I’ve climbed out onto the fire escape to enjoy the view of the wisteria in bloom across the back yard a couple of times. I’ts a nice place to sit with a cool drink while I wait for something to finish cooking.

This drink is a little pink spin on my ideal margarita recipe – tart and limey and mildly sweet. The rhubarb syrup just works so well and it’s just a pretty drink. You can replace the syrup with lime juice for a more traditional margarita which is also pretty awesome on a warm summer afternoon.

Rhubarbarita

makes 1 drink

1 ounce lime juice,

1 ounce rhubarb syrup*

.5 ounce triple sec

1.5-2 oz tequila (to taste)

ice

 lime wedge

Mix the lime juice, rhubarb syrup, triple sec, and tequila. Pour over ice in a shaker or glass jar. Shake to combine and chill. Pour over crushed ice in glasses and serve with a lime wedge (in case you like it a little tarter).

*Rhubarb syrup

3 stalks rhubarb, cut into 1-2 inch pieces

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup water

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes over low heat until the rhubarb is soft and the syrup is infused with pink color. Strain the rhubarb pulp (save the pulp to mix with yogurt) and store the syrup in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

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Lemon(balm)ade

A neighboring gardener who grows mostly herbs and flowers in her plot was dividing  an exuberant lemon balm plant last year and offered me a piece. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a part of the mint family, so I should have been forewarned that it would spend the winter plotting its invasion and then as soon as the weather improved, start making incursions into the rest of the herbs. I’m going to have to dig it up and replant it in a bottomless flower pot to keep it in check. But it’s so pretty, and it smells wonderful, like a sweet herbal lemon scent, and the bees seem to love it.

The rain has caused an explosion of growth so I’ve been trying to keep it pruned until I can replant it. One of my favorite uses for it last year was infusing a quart jar of water with a generous handful in the fridge over night and then using the water to make lemonade. It adds a subtle, herbal, green flavor to sweet/sharp lemonade. It’s a nice variation on a classic.

Lemon balm-ade

1/2 cup lemon juice or a mixture of lemon and lime

1/2 cup simple syrup * since anyone who makes sweet tea knows sugar never dissolves in cold water

3 cups of lemon balm infused water.

Mix together and serve over ice.

Makes about 1 quart

*Simple syrup

Heat together 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water until it simmers and the sugar is completely dissolved.

Keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator.