I love rhubarb. I've loved rhubarb since I was a wee Stephanie who used to sit at our kitchen table every spring, dipping the end of a stalk from our backyard rhubarb patch in a little dish of sugar, gnawing on it, dipping again, and working my way up. I was utterly fascinated — still am, really, if I take the time to think about it — by the fact that the very same plant is both poisonous and delicious. My adult self loves the very strict seasonality of it, that it's not really popular enough for anyone to bother making it available year-round, and so its scarcity makes me appreciate it more fully. I also love the flavor; even more than a sweet or salt tooth, I have a pretty serious taste for all things tart and sour. I even like it raw, a few thin slices to whet my appetite if I'm chopping some up for another purpose.
Michelle and I had a bit of a get-out-of-my-head moment last week when she emailed to say that she was thinking about infusing some vodka with rhubarb and I had been thinking about the same thing. I didn't have any vodka at home and wasn't going to be anywhere where I could get the really cheap stuff — plastic jug and all — and I found this recipe for rhubarb syrup that I thought would be nice to have on hand for mixing with seltzer or making whatever the rhubarb equivalent of a kir royale is.
Also, it really couldn't be easier: boil some rhubarb with sugar and water for 20 minutes, then strain.
The solids that are left behind after straining were a little flat-tasting, I thought, though a splash of vanilla and the juice of half a lemon fixed that easily enough. You could use it anywhere you'd use jam or fruit butter, but I can't really imagine doing anything but pairing it with the rest of the ricotta ice cream in my freezer, because HOLY HAMMER OF THOR THIS WAS GOOD.
I haven't tried the syrup in anything yet (no seltzer in the house last night), so I can't really say anything about it other than it's super sweet and I'd probably halve the sugar next time, but look how gorgeous it is: