Foraging in my neighbor’s yard

I was chatting with my neighbor the other day about gardening matters, when my eyes spied an amazing sight – “sayyyyyyyy, that is one CRAZY looking plant over there….” and realized that my neighbor has a huge rhubarb plant growing in her yard. I’d never seen a giant rhubarb plant with a huge flower stem like that.

Of course, I had to inquire about what she was doing with the rhubarb, and she said that she doesn’t like the flavor of rhubarb. So then I asked, can I have some stalks? She said definitely, come over whenever and pick as much as you’d like.

Great!!! I can use the stalks for my ongoing food experiments. I feel like a crazy food doctor….

I’m getting greedy with the rhubarb. This conversation occurred after receiving rhubarb from one of my work colleagues, plus some more in my CSA box last week. I’ve been a rhubarb benefactress this week, doling it out to others like I’m the Godfather, er, fairy godmother.

Anyway, what did I do with the rhubarb, you ask? Well, I made cocktails with it, being that it is a holiday weekend, after all.

I chickened out on the straight rhubarb basil martinis, instead making a strawberry rhubarb basil martini. This recipe is a hybrid of two basil martini recipes I had seen on another website. You can make it with vodka and gin, or vodka only. I tried it both ways and liked both, but my companions preferred the vodka only version. (Depends on if you’re into the flavor of gin or not) I used Absolut Citron and Tanqueray Ten.

Strawberry Rhubarb Basil Martinis
(Makes 2 drinks)

6 stalks rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 cup water
1 quart strawberries
3 oz. vodka (or 1 1/2 oz each of vodka and gin)
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1 oz. lime juice
Basil leaves, thinly slivered
Club soda

1. Combine rhubarb, sugar and water in saucepan, and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until rhubarb is soft. This makes about 1 cup of rhubarb puree.
2. Puree the cooked rhubarb in a food processor or blender until smooth. Set aside in dish.
3. Puree the strawberries until smooth.
4. In a cocktail shaker, combine 1 oz. of strawberry puree, 1 oz of rhubarb puree and slivered basil. Muddle briefly to release the basil flavor. Add vodka, lime juice, and some club soda; add ice cubes and shake to chill the drink, then strain into two martini glasses. Garnish with a sprig of basil leaves if desired.

These measurements are all approximate, throw it together however you’d like. The fresh fruit makes this drink taste awesome, and the basil lends a note of sophistication.

You’ll have leftover strawberry and rhubarb purees when you’re done, so use your imagination for what to do with them. I think we’re going to try to make strawberry rhubarb ice cream.

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3 thoughts on “Foraging in my neighbor’s yard

  1. This is both a very yummy recipe as well as a beautiful one. Serve as is or add some booze.

    Rhubarb Lavender Lemonade

    1 large frozen lemonade container (pink or white)
    2 cups rhubarb
    2 cups water
    ¼ to 1/3 bottle of Golden Fig lavender buds (depending on your taste preference)
    Bacardi Limon (optional)

    Simmer the rhubarb and water together until the rhubarb is totally soft. Let cool, then strain the liquid.

    Put frozen lemonade in a large pitcher. Using the lemonade can, measure 2 cans of rhubarb liquid into the lemonade.

    In a small saucepan, put the remainder of the rhubarb liquid and water from another can and a half; heat to boiling. Put the lavender buds in a tea bag or tea infuser and add to the boiling liquid until it turns a lavender color and is highly aromatic. Add this water to the rest of the lemonade. Cool it down with ice cubes or by putting in the fridge for a while and you’re ready to go.

    Can be served as is or by adding Bacardi Limon, to taste.

  2. That recipe sounds awesome, Kris! Thanks for sharing it, I can’t wait to try it.

    I just bought dried lavender from Penzeys on Grand last week, I should have ambled down the street and checked out the Golden Fig too. Anything special about the Golden Fig’s lavender buds in particular?

  3. Pingback: Drink your strawberries | Green Your Plate

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