Friggin’ April, friggin’ Robert Frost. I quoted that in a post a couple weeks ago, and becomes truer and truer with every passing day.
Last weekend in Vancouver it was utterly beautiful. Beach weather. Barbecue weather. The sunshine was intoxicating. I put on flowy maxi dresses, imbued with a totally false optimism that it would be sunny and warm forever now- that summer had indeed come early and was here to stay. It’s all sandals and sunglasses from here on out, guys. We made it.
It happens every year, and I never learn. As in life, when things are going really well, it’s hard to imagine them ever… not going well. Until, of course they do.
But, in the moment, all you can think are happy thoughts. Decked out in my flip flops and a wide brimmed hat, I headed to my local farm market. I sashayed though the market picking up and admiring the local spring harvest. The air smelled like fresh herbs and sunscreen. It was like a Nancy Meyers movie (except I am not effortlessly wealthy and wasn’t in the Hamptons- close enough).
As a kid, my parents used to drag my sister and I to nurseries when the weather got like this. Obviously, that was The Worst. For a kid, spending your Saturday looking at plants was right up there with Home Depot for the worst place ever imaginable. And so, it comes full circle- where can you find Megan and I on a sunny weekend these days? Looking at plants.
I wanted to spend the day in the garden. My woodier herbs had wintered well, but I had to start thinking of what I would plant for the summer harvest. Tomatoes and basil were a given. Summer just isn’t summer for me without unlimited caprese salads.
Leafy greens, lettuces, chard. Strawberries, squash, carrots. Melissa (lemon balm), a curious plant called bee balm, and a lemon verbena plant which I later found out would actually grow into a rather large tree/shrub (awesome).
Oh man, I love rhubarb. It’s got such a strong, fruity flavour- gets me every time. I mean, it tastes like sunshine, does it not? It doesn’t hurt that it’s hot pink so everything it touches turns a particularly sassy shade.
Without hacking away at toooooo much of my happy little rhubarb plant, I managed to steal a few stalks. What to do with it? Something to enjoy in the sunshine. Something refreshing. Something easy. Granita.
Granita is an Italian dessert originally from Sicily. It’s similar to sorbet, or Italian ice, but it requires no fancy equipment or machinery. No need to run out and buy an ice cream maker- yay! (although one day…)
Fruit, sugar, water. Freeze. Scrape up with a fork sporadically. Done.
Enough to satisfy your sweet tooth but also sublimely refreshing, it satisfies your ice cream craving on a sunny day, but is much, much lighter.
That afternoon, after planting my soon-to-be summer crops, I rewarded myself with some granita in the sunshine. Few things in this world could beat a cold beer on a hot day… but granita comes pretty darn close.
Later in the week, the rains came. The winds picked up. I had to make-shift a little tent around my poor little tomato plant. It will be sunny again soon. One of these days.
|Strawberry Rhubarb Granita|| |
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ lb. rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
- 1 cup strawberries, sliced
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp balsamic or raspberry vinegar
- Fresh mint (garnish)
- Add sugar and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir until all the sugar crystals have dissolved.
- Add rhubarb and cook over medium heat until the rhubarb has softened and is beginning to break apart, roughly 5 minutes. Add the strawberries and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the strawberries have softened. Add the lemon juice and vinegar and stir to combine.
- Strain mixture well through a fine mesh sieve then discard the solids. Pour mixture into a 9 inch pie plate or baking dish- the trick here is to get the mixture to lay about ¼-1/8 inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the freezer.
- Using the tines of a fork, remove the dish from the freezer every 30 minutes or so and scrape the granita into slush. Take particular care to break up any larger ice chunks and scrape down the sides, as they will freeze first. After 3 hours or so, the granita will be nice and slushy.* Serve with a garnish of fresh mint leaves.