Strawberry-Rhubarb Balsamic Shrub

When you hear the phrase “drinking vinegar,” what comes to mind? Weird old-timey medicine? Something gross you’d drink if you were doing some sort of “cleanse”? It’s vinegar. And you drink it. That doesn’t sound delicious at all.

I decided to make a shrub purely out of curiosity. I had a bunch of strawberries and rhubarb leftover from making ice cream, and my eye on this post for a while now. I wanted to try it and I wanted to like it, but deep down, I was worried I’d hate it. It would be too vinegary for me, and I’d feel like a wimp. I’d wind up putting it in smoothies or trying to dilute it with seltzer and/or booze, all the while lamenting the waste of expensive balsamic. But now that I’ve finally tried it, I can honestly say that I don’t like it. I LOVE it.

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Asparagus & Caramelized Ramp Hand Pies

So as some of you may know, I have but one sworn food enemy. That sweaty-tasting, eye-stinging, vile orb of slimy-yet-crunchy layers: The Onion.

My dislike of onions has existed for as long as I can remember. My mother swears I used to eat them when I was very young, but I have no recollection of this. On occasion, she would accidentally add a bunch of onions to something before separating out an untainted portion for me, then try to pass it off as onion-free in the hopes that I wouldn’t notice. That never worked. I could spot them in food from 10 feet away. I could smell them from even farther. I’d smush my dinner all around the plate, pick out every onion I could find, then still refuse to eat it, igniting a dinner table standoff: Carey: Hater of Onions vs. Parents: Lords of After-Dinner TV Privileges. Even today, finding them in my food ignites a childish, fussy frustration within me. If I order a dish sans onions at a restaurant and the waiter asks if I have an allergy, my go-to response is, “I’m mentally allergic to them.” This is usually met with a somewhat bemused look, but it keeps them out of my food.

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Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Basil Ice Cream

Few things make me happier than the arrival of rhubarb season. Once I see it making an appearance at farmers’ markets and on store shelves, I know that winter really, truly is over. But even more exciting than the symbolic significance those strange red stalks hold is their amazing flavor — a unique tartness that plays well with others, like strawberries, citrus, and ginger. It’s darn tasty, and so versatile. It’s the pumpkin of the spring! And while the pumpkin supply is practically endless during fall in the northeast, rhubarb season seems to vanish all too quickly. And that is why I’ve developed a method for making sure I get my fill of rhubarb each year: If I see it, I buy it. And I buy most of it. The first day it showed up at the store, I’d stuffed about half of the pile in a bag when I realized people were waiting for me to quit being such a hog and get out of the way. The next week, no one was around, so I took all but three puny stalks. Yeah, I’m that jerk.

Looking through my archives, you wouldn’t really pick up on my rhubarb obsession. That, I’m sorry to say, is due to the fact that everything gets eaten before I have a chance to photograph it. Pies, sodas, fruit leather — it’s all gone. We ate it all. But I saved you some ice cream! Wasn’t that nice of me?

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Kombucha Berry Oat Smoothie

Lately, I’ve been feeling very, very lucky that I don’t experience spring allergies. This season seems to be especially hard on everyone in the Northeast, thanks to the mild winter. The boyfriend spent the past week suffering through what I concluded was hay fever, the symptoms of which seemed invulnerable to various allergy med cocktails. (He isn’t quite so sure about my diagnosis, but it doesn’t seem possible that I wouldn’t have caught whatever he had unless it was allergy-related. So if he wants to find fault in my 5-minutes-of-googling-say-this theory, the only other possible conclusion I can reach is that I have a superhuman immune system, which totally rules.)

While I may not be dealing with allergies, I do find myself experiencing another springtime affliction: zombie hunger. Each day, I am suddenly stricken with an all-consuming need to feed (on things of the non-human flesh variety), and god help anyone or anything that gets in my way. I attribute this to a spike in my metabolism, thanks to the spring crazies, which actually leaves me with a bit of a dilemma. This metabolism boost causes my body to start shedding its winter . . . *ahem* . . . insulation. And this year I am high-fiving myself for keeping up my daily workouts through the winter, because emerging from beneath this insulation are abs. Honest to goodness abs!

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