I have a thing for true stories and Q+A. When I worked at a café in San Francisco in the nineties, we had something called the Slam Book. Slam Books were popular among middle schoolers in the eighties. Ours were simple spiral notebooks where my co-workers and I would pose a question or write about an experience. Anyone in our group could write responses. Lunch breaks were often spent at an outside table with a pen and the Slam Book. It was a bit like today’s social media, but slower and, dare I say, better, because it was something you could in your hands, was handwritten, and was full of expletives and doodles. I loved those books and I wonder if they are still out there in the world, safely stored on a shelf or in a box, or if they have long decomposed.
I learned a lot of interesting things via this book (it was San Francisco in the early nineties). Some things I would like to forget! We were an unruly group of artists, students, musicians, actors, and scholars. One of my co-workers wrote about a patronizing exchange he had with now governor Jerry Brown. Apparently my co-worker was not preparing Mr. Brown's sandwiches quickly enough. I wish I could share (or even remember) some of the stories, but I need to protect my former co-workers. They are some of the finest folks I have known.
In a similar vein, I was glad to learn that this joy+ride was returning this spring after a 3-year hiatus. This joy+ride is a collaboration between Shari and Sheri. They have created an amazing collection of interviews and photographs from photographers all over the world. The interview questions remain the same (with minor updates), but change with the seasons. You can search artists by type and by name. What a wonderful collaboration. Welcome back!
It was a surprise when Shari asked me to contribute to their May relaunch. What an honor to be in such good company! I was asked to share a series of puddle photos and a cocktail/mocktail recipe. You can find them here.
So now that you know that I am a little obsessed with puddles, let's move on to rhubarb.
I tested a few rhubarb recipes for this joy+ride and I have some outtakes to share. Today I will share my recipe for rhubarb thyme margaritas. In the spring thyme can be a little timid in flavor, but it combines so nicely with rhubarb, I just had to include it. If you don't have thyme, you can just make a rhubarb syrup, it still makes a tasty margarita. The syrup makes a good soda too. You can follow my recipe on this joy+ride.
Rhubarb Thyme Margaritas
These drinks are a pretty pink. You can increase the recipe to make a big batch to serve in pitchers or in a punch bowl. Margaritas usually are made with a 3:2:1 ratio of tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice. This recipe plays with that ratio a bit: 3:2:2:1, tequila:dry curaçao:rhubarb syrup:lime juice. You can use these ratios to serve a crowd, but be sure to taste before you serve, because there is so much variation in orange liqueurs, lime juice flavor, and rhubarb tartness.
I like to make margaritas in a mason jar. You can shake or stir them. I also like to add a wee bit of water to open up the tequila a bit, but I am sure some folks would frown upon such an act. The most important thing is to experiment and find the way that you like them.
Makes two margaritas.
3 ounces tequila, we tend to use El Jimador
2 ounces orange liqueur, I prefer Creole Shrubb, Cointreau, or dry Curaçao
2-3 ounces rhubarb thyme syrup (see recipe below)
1 ounce fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
a small bunch of fresh thyme to muddle and some for garnish, esp. if you have some flowering in your garden
In a mason jar gently muddle the fresh thyme with the rhubarb syrup; add the tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice. I like to add a splash of water too. Add ice and shake or stir well. Taste and adjust, if necessary. Salt the rims of your glasses, if desired, by rubbing the outer rims with the spent limes and rolling the glass rim in a saucer of salt. Fill glasses with ice and pour in the margaritas. Garnish with thyme flowers, fresh thyme, or lime wheels.
Rhubarb Thyme Syrup
This syrup is easy to make and you also get a jar of rhubarb compote from the process. Don't you love recipes where you end up with more than one product and nothing is wasted? Yields vary, but expect almost a pint of syrup and a jam jar of compote.
3 cups chopped fresh rhubarb (use the rubiest red stems you can find for the prettiest syrup color)
a small bunch of fresh thyme (give it a gentle pounding with a wooden spoon to release its essential oils)
1 cup sugar (I use organic cane crystals, so my syrup ends up a little cloudier than if I used a more refined sugar, but please use what you prefer)
1 cup water
Add all to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Bring heat down to a simmer and cook until the rhubarb is barely tender, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth-lined strainer or colander. Place the strainer over a mason jar to collect the syrup. Do not squeeze the cheesecloth to extract more liquid, just let gravity do the work, or the syrup will be cloudy and a little too viscous. Feel free to give it a gentle stir or two with a spoon, but no more than that.
Be sure to save the rhubarb thyme mixture from the cheesecloth, as this is a tasty compote. The syrup will keep refrigerated in a jar for a week or two. The compote is good on scones, ice cream, yogurt, or oatmeal. If refrigerated, the compote should keep in a jar in for about a week.
Thank you Shari and Sheri! I really appreciate it.