suspicious smells from the kitchen :::
“It smells like marijuana!” my husband said, wide eyed, just up from a nap on the weekend. “Why does it smell like pot?”
“Um, I don’t know. The windows aren’t open,” I answered. None of the neighbors were toking up at the time. “I think you’re smelling the rhubarb I cooked.”
That’s what it was, in fact, the rhubarb. The more I sniffed, the more I understood why Eat was so concerned at first. It really did smell like marijuana, not actually a legal plant and a much better yogurt topping. If someone walked into our home at that point, they may have cast some suspicious glances around, looking for bong or a hastily misplaced baggie skirting the trash can.
I first discovered I liked rhubarb when I was 12 years old. A friend had given me a rhubarb and custard flavored hard candy and I was surprised that the tart, weedy flavor was actually better than I expected. For years, I had seen my mom and aunt gush over my aunt’s rhubarb garden. I never understood the appeal of rhubarb crisp, or pie, or the draw to the earthy, tart odor. Now it suddenly seemed so clear.
These days, I like it best in things like this, the strawberry-rhubarb pie my neighbor brought over last week (thanks, L!), and in the the following recipe to make drinks. A homemade rhubarb soda on an almost-summer’s day brings me back to my rhubarb-hating days, thinking I was scoring big with just the vanilla ice cream for dessert. Maybe ice cream floats with rhubarb soda are in order. Or rhubarb mojitos. Or rhubarb compote topping some steel-cut oatmeal. I’ve even had it in a savory dish of crab at the famed Alinea Restaurant. Rhubarb is truly a versatile green, and so under appreciated.
Be warned: if you smell something suspicious wafting from my house, it’s the rhubarb. Promise. Remember, the possibilities are endless.
- 4 cups rhubarb, chopped*
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups water
- Combine all in a medium sized pot and bring to boil.
- Simmer 10-15 minutes, until rhubarb is soft and loses its color.
- Strain through fine mesh strainer. Do not push on solids or you will create a sludgy syrup.
- FOR THE COMPOTE: The leftover solids in the strainer keep for about a month in the fridge. I use it as a wonderful topping for Greek yogurt.
- FOR THE SYRUP: Store the syrup in a tightly-capped jar for up to a 1 month in the fridge. Use to flavor sparkling water for a rhubarb soda or use for cocktails.