Spring simplicity

It really isn't officially spring until I've snapped the bottoms off of the season's first asparagus and rolled them across the hot grill. Radishes, rhubarb, halibut, and a chilled rosé: these simple flavors set my expectations for the warmth that is to come and yank me out of winter's stupor of starch and heft. 

We trekked toward the sunshine last Saturday intent on foraging for the ingredients that launch our seasonal tasks. We required tomato and pepper plants, flowers, potting soil, and a grand assortment of herbs to plant. Across Minnesota millions of others had the same plan. We assembled en masse at the farmers market, the nursery, the hardware store, and Costco; merging with swarms of happy people lugging pots of bright peonies and phlox and finding our place in a line a block long, I heard a woman tell the man next to her, "It is a good thing that everyone is happy when they buy flowers."

T carefully balanced a tray loaded with tiny cartons of basil, sage, and tarragon while I toted bouquets of green onions, asparagus, and rhubarb. Our small car groaned with the weight of several 55-pound bags of potting soil and the bounty of our spring shopping spree.

At home I spread the edible loot across the butcher block and set to work on a rhubarb simple syrup while T travailed in the yard, mowing the lawn and raking unidentifiable foliage. Eventually we connected in the backyard and started filling pots with soil and green promises. When it was time for happy hour, we collapsed with relief from a job well done and opened a bottle of pink Pinot noir.

Rhubarb Simple Syrup
4 cups rhubarb, chopped
2 cups sugar

Place rhubarb and sugar in large stock pot and cover with water. Simmer 30 to 60 minutes. Use immersion blender to puree. Strain through wire mesh colander, pushing solids against mesh to extract liquid, and discard solids. Chill in glass jars.

Use rhubarb syrup in mixed drinks with soda water, and in cocktails. Add to vinaigrette and BBQ sauce.


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